Meet 10-year-old Melissa Shang. Like many girls, she is a fan of the American Girl doll/book series. But Melissa is making headlines because she is petitioning the popular brand to name a doll with a disability as its 2015 "Girl of the Year." Why? Because "disabled girls are American girls too."
Melissa Shang, 10, Petitions American Girl To Name Doll With Disability 'Girl Of The Year'
You see, Melissa herself as a disability. She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which damages the peripheral nerves, causing muscle weakness and decreased muscle size. She just wants to see a "Girl of the Year" doll that has a story like her own -- and maybe even uses a wheelchair like her.
The "Girl of the Year" dolls are special edition characters that highlight an overarching theme for the year with a back story focusing on a modern-day issue. These dolls have promoted issues like community service and anti-bullying, but so far, there hasn't been a doll with a disability. So Melissa spoke up:
From Melissa's petition:
As a girl with a disability, I’ve had to overcome obstacles since I was born.I am not a little girl, but I know that these American Girl dolls are insanely popular. Say what you will about the brand, I think what Melissa is doing is pretty darn awesome. If you want to help her out, sign the petition.
I’m ten years old, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve had Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a form of muscular dystrophy. When I was seven, like most of my classmates, I fell in love with American Girl dolls—historical and modern girls with stories about overcoming obstacles. I’ve read all of the books, seen all of the movies, and even visited the American Girl Place in New York City. For the past three years, I’ve asked for an American Girl doll for Christmas.
Of all the American Girl dolls, my favorites are the Girl of the Years. Every year, American Girl introduces a brand-new character with a story about finding success in the face of challenges today. Girls of the Year come from all different places, from Hawaii to New Mexico, and they help girls learn what it’s like to be someone else. Through Saige, I learned what it’s like to be an artist and horseback rider. Through McKenna, I learned what it’s like to be a gymnast. Girls of the Year have helped me understand how it feels to be someone else.
However, none of the American Girl Girls of the Year are like me. None of them have a disability.