For hardcore Disney fans who follow news related to the Walt Disney Company — or the ongoing showdown between Florida’s governor and Walt Disney World Resort — the term “woke Disney” might ring plenty of bells.
Some Disney fans have applauded the Walt Disney Company for its well-publicized efforts to make Disney Parks, and Disney content in general (including Disney movies), more inclusive, whether that has involved changes to Cast Members’ training during certain Magic Kingdom services or the permanent removal of controversial Disney characters or films from the Disney library.
Even though some Disney fans have viewed Disney’s efforts to include everyone as a negative, Disney has made a bit of progress in that department anyway (according to this in-depth report). However, one influential Australian actress and activist has pointed out a crucial gap in Disney’s inclusivity — and she is not alone!
Latecomers star Hannah Diviney is an Australian actress, an editor of Missed Perspectives, and a changemaker who has garnered a significant following online. Diviney has started pushing Disney to expand its Disney princess lineup and make a new kind of Disney princess — i.e. a disabled Disney heroine.
As a woman with cerebral palsy, Diviney took it upon herself to call out Disney for its lack of disabled Disney princesses back in 2020, and the actress’s petition has gained serious traction with almost 70,000 people’s support.
“The campaign is basically to create a disabled Disney princess and the reason for that specifically is because Disney princesses are the ones that get the most visibility,” Diviney explained in a recent interview.
“They’re the ones you see on the bedspreads and the toys and the books and the birthday parties and the Halloween costumes and all of that, so kind of wanted to go for maximum visibility with my choice there,” Diviney continued.
Celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Jameela Jamil and Star Wars star Mark Hamill have all expressed support for Diviney’s campaign.
In the petition on Change.org, Hannah Diviney writes a letter to Disney, describing herself as “a young woman who has always loved Disney films but never seen herself in them”.
“Creating a disabled Princess (we know how influential those characters are) would give millions of children around the world the invaluable chance to see themselves having adventures, rich full lives and being the hero of their own stories. You’d be working to dispel the painful idea that many children subconsciously absorb life with a disability has to mean a life without joy, adventure, friendship or love,” Diviney added.
“Beyond that, you’d also be providing a powerful reference point for non-disabled children to understand us and our lives. You would actively be creating a culture of tolerance, acceptance, empathy and understanding to replace fear, confusion and the seeds of bigotry that are often unconsciously sowed when we are confronted with something different that is hard to understand,” Diviney went on to write.
“Walt Disney envisaged his empire as a place for children to dream and hope. These days, we know more than ever that hope is the most powerful thing we have,” Diviney concluded. “Children with disabilities don’t have that place of fantastical hopes and dreams. We’ve never seen the possibilities of our lives represented for us and the world. You have the chance to give us that magic”.
Diviney also created a video about the “Disabled Disney Princess” campaign, which can be seen below!
Diviney also made headlines in 2022, when she brought attention to the “ableist slur” ‘spaz’ after hearing both Beyoncé and Lizzo use the term in songs.
Both singers fixed their songs and removed the word, which is “a sort of slur or cultural shorthand to mean like someone losing control or being unintelligent or having no control of their emotions”. The term references spastic diplegia, which is a common type of cerebral palsy.
Would you like to see Disney create some disabled Disney princesses or heroines who embark on magical adventures and save the day?