These Sisters Are Petitioning For American Girl Doll To Feature A Doll In A Wheelchair

Because every girl should be represented.

The American Girl doll has made its way into millions of children's homes since its introduction in 1986. 

Boasting a mission that celebrates girls and embraces "who they are today and "who they will become tomorrow," it would seems fair that American Girl actually represent all American girls. 

But despite the company's claim that "every girl can create the doll just right for her," not everyone necessarily feels this to be true...yet.   

11-year-old Melissa Shang can't find a featured American Girl doll that is disabled like her.

Melissa has a form of muscular dystrophy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth, a disease that causes the loss of muscle mass and prevents her from doing things others might take for granted, like running and ice-skating

Though Melissa has muscular dystrophy, in so many ways she is still just like her peers — and she loves the American Girl franchise, complete with its books, magazines, videos and unique backstories assigned to each doll. 

But sadly, there are no featured dolls with disabilities and stories akin to Melissa's. 

So in 2014, Melissa and her sister Eva, a Harvard undergraduate, tried to remedy that with a Change.org petition asking the President of American Girl and Executive Vice President of Mattel, Jean McKenzie, to make the 2015 Girl of the Year a doll in a wheelchair. 

Last year, Melissa made this video asking YOU to sign her Change.org petition.

The Girl of the Year is an annual featured doll who, according to the website, shows "girls how they can change the word 'impossible' to 'possible' by building confidence, connecting with others, and making a difference — whether big or small." 

Well, Melissa and her sister want to make a difference by creating inclusion for children with disabilities. 

"...I want to see an American Girl of the year who has a disability like me," Melissa says in the video above. "Disabled girls are American girls too! We face challenges and overcome them everyday."  

In her petition, Melissa writes:

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.

American Girl still has not agreed to feature a doll with a disability.

Since the petition went up last year, the sisters have received 145,182 supporters, 4,818 shy of the 150,000 signatures needed to reach their goal.

In an email, Eva told A+ that American Girl responded to the petition saying that, as of now, they will stick to their company policy of not taking individual requests.

Though a BuzzFeed article notes that the company does include a wheelchair accessory in their online store. 

But the girls have not given up, because they know their campaign is not just about them.

In their letter to the president of American Girl, Eva and Melissa point out the Girl of the Year is supposed to teach kids about overcoming obstacles, but that the biggest obstacle of all is being born with a disability. 

For that reason, their Change.org petition is not just for them, but for all American girls. 

"I want other girls to know what it's like to be me, through a disabled American Girl's story," Melissa writes on her petition. 

Eva and Melissa have worked tirelessly to promote their cause, sharing their story with outlets like BuzzFeed, Oprah Magazine, the International Business Times and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

They even did a Ted talk about it. 

And even if American Girl doesn't respond, the girls are planning on taking matters into their own hands.

Most recently, Eva and Melissa created a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a book they are writing called "Wheeling through Middle School." It is about a girl with muscular dystrophy who loves to sing. 

Fortunately, they already reached their funding goal within just 24 hours of creating the Kickstarter, and told A+ that, as of this week, they signed on to Martin Literary Agency. "Wheeling through Middle School" will hopefully be available to the public by the end of this year, empowering little girls with disabilities everywhere. 

If you believe in the Shang sisters' cause, and think American Girl should feature a doll with a disability for Girl of the Year, sign Melissa and Eva's Change.org petition

Melissa and Eva Shang
Melissa and Eva Shang

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