Hannah Diviney, diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, is hoping Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) will create a princess character with disabilities, spearheading a campaign that has garnered support from Reese Witherspoon, Jameela Jamil and Mark Hamill.
Sydney resident Diviney said she believes her life, and journey towards self-love and acceptance, would have been different if she had seen positive representations of people with disabilities in movies while growing up.
“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 told Reuters in an 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 began an online campaign for Disney to create a princess character with disabilities in 2020 and the petition has now received 64,000 signatures.
The 23-year-old, who is an editor for an online news platform for women and recently starred in Australian TV series “Latecomers”, said it was hard growing up feeling different from the other kids.
Diviney last year called out Beyonce and Lizzo on Twitter for using ‘spaz’, a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, in their songs. Both artists later removed the ableist slur after her tweets went viral and recorded the songs again.
Cerebral palsy affects a person’s ability to move and maintain posture, affecting around 0.1% of Australia’s near 26 million population. The most common type is spastic diplegia, which Diviney is diagnosed with.
“‘Spaz’ has been popularised as a sort of slur or cultural shorthand to mean like someone losing control or being unintelligent or having no control of their emotions … it was definitely a word that kids use in the playground, sometimes at me, sometimes around me,” she said.