Many parents of little girls in Maryland know all about American Girl dolls. The dolls grace the birthday lists of a number of girls across the country, and they have for decades.
Although the dolls are more expensive than others, many parents and their children appreciate that American Girl dolls represent real American girls. They come in a variety of nationalities, and they all have back stories about their American experiences; this allows many girls to find a doll with whom they identify. However, American Girl dolls do not represent all little girls here in Maryland - there is no American Girl with a disability.
One 10-year-old girl has set out to change this. The fifth-grader, along with her teenage sister, has recently created a petition to ask the manufacturer of American Girl dolls to come out with a doll with a disability.
The girl wrote in her petition: “For once, I don’t want to be invisible or a side character that the main American Girl has to help: I want other girls to know what it’s like to be me, through a disabled American Girl’s story,” as quoted by Disability Scoop.
The girl has muscular dystrophy.
American Girl does make a number of injury and illness-related accessories for its dolls, but none of the dolls have a permanent disability.
The petition had more than 100,000 signatures as of Jan. 10.
This story is a reminder that although services for disabled Americans have improved greatly in recent decades, in many ways people with disabilities remain invisible. Those who do not have disabilities or who do not have loved ones with disabilities are often unaware of the unique challenges facing people with disabilities. Whether it is a doll or Social Security disability benefits, many things that should be available to people with disabilities do not come without a fight. It is important that people with disabilities have advocates, such as this young girl, to stand up for their rights.