American Girl Petition Seeks Doll With Disability For 2015 "Girl of the Year"

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Melissa Shang, a 10-year-old fan of American Girl dollars, is is petitioning the brand to name a doll with a disability as its 2015 Girl of the Year.

Her simple, profound reasoning? "Disabled girls are American girls too," she says.

Melissa, who uses a wheelchair, recently launched a petition on Change (dot) org titled "American Girl: Release an American Girl with a disability."

The young girl has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which damages peripheral nerves and causes muscle weakness and decreased muscle size.

Melissa's favorite American Girl dolls are the "Girl of the Year" special editions, which highlight broad, overarching themes and issues of the year.

In the past, these dolls have promoted issues like community service and anti-bullying efforts. She'd like a doll with a disability to be added to that list.

Shang's petition says:

"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."

"Disabled girls might be different from normal kids on the outside. They might sit in a wheelchair like I do, or have some other difficulty that other kids don’t have."

"However, we are the same as other girls on the inside, with the same thoughts and feelings."

"American Girls are supposed to represent all the girls that make up American history, past and present. That includes disabled girls."

Given past efforts by the brand, her wish could come true.

American Girl, a subsidiary of Mattel, has made strides in bringing diversity to its products in selling dolls with a variety of racial, ethnic and religious back stories.

Last year it introduced bald dolls to represent girls experiencing hair loss, and it began offering "Special Sparkle" accessories like a hearing aid and a guide dog.

Spokeswoman Julie Parks said at the time to ABC News:

“We have a long history of speaking to diversity and making girls feel good about themselves, and this is just another way we are expanding on the idea."

Follow the link to sign Melissa's petition has received more than 300 signatures, but still needs more than 9,000 to reach its goal. Fingers crossed.

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