"I never saw amputee women being portrayed as normal, beautiful, or strong, so it took me a long time to realize that being different and unique can actually be a positive trait."
When someone talks of a fairytale ending, we know it's going to be perfect. People always get what they want in fairytales and end up living happily ever after. However, real life is a lot different from it. It's quite harsh and unfair, too. The representation in fairy tales is too perfect and not everyone really is. Mandy Pursley is just one among the many people that didn't grow up seeing amputees like her represented in fairy tales. But, does that mean she doesn't deserve her fairytale ending? Of course, not. Everyone deserves their fairytale ending and everyone needs to believe they are truly beautiful.
"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 realize that being different and unique can actually be a positive trait." It was only when her daughter started to study Cinderella in school that she saw an opportunity to become the kind of role model that she had been lacking and create her own happily ever after.
But, there was be a slight twist to this belle's version of Cinderella. Instead of those glass slippers, she got herself 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 achieve 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."
If that wasn't amazing enough, Pursley, who is a sewing enthusiast, made the fabulous Cinderella gown herself. She sought 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, but of course, with a twist.
She took to Facebook to share her fairytale moment, and of course, it went viral. There are more than 34k reactions on her post and it's been shared around 25k times. With her newfound audience, she started a Facebook page called Be the Spark Cosplay to continue sharing her creations. "My favorite 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."