- Mandy Pursley created an amputee Cinderella costume with a glass arm to help broaden representations of people with physical differences.
- The photos of her and her “real-life Prince Charming” husband went viral.
- “My favourite part has been hearing from the parents of children with ‘lucky fins’ like mine, who shared how excited their kids were to finally see a princess who looked like them,” she told Insider.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Mandy Pursley didn’t grow up seeing amputees like her represented in fairy tales.
“I remember being enthralled watching Jim Abbott play baseball, because he was the only amputee I had ever seen on television,” she told Insider in an email. “But I still never saw amputee women being portrayed as normal, beautiful, or strong, so it took me a long time to realise that being different and unique can actually be a positive trait.”
When her daughter started studying Cinderella stories in school last year, she saw an opportunity to become the kind of role model that she had been lacking and create her own happily ever after. Instead of a glass slipper, the Disney princess could have a glass arm.
“Representation is so powerful,” Pursley said. “It is so much easier to believe in yourself when you are able to see people who look like you achieving the same dreams that you have. People who have differences really just want to feel included and accepted without feeling the need to hide what makes them unique.”
A sewing enthusiast, Pursley created Cinderella’s ball gown herself. She elisted the help of artist Gilbert Lozano to create the glass arm, and photographer Kelly Anderson to capture the ensemble in all its princess glory. Her husband Ryan also stood in as her “real-life Prince Charming.”
Together, they recreated Cinderella’s classic moment of leaving her glass slipper behind at the ball – with a twist.
When Pursley shared the finished look on Facebook, the response was overwhelming. The photos have since been shared over 24,000 times.
With her newfound audience, she started a Facebook page called Be the Spark Cosplay to continue sharing her creations.
“My favourite part has been hearing from the parents of children with ‘lucky fins’ like mine, who shared how excited their kids were to finally see a princess who looked like them,” she said. “I hope that people with all sorts of differences are encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response to this character who shows that beauty is so much deeper than physical perfection.”
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