Mandy Pursely had her right arm amputated as a child and she says she struggled not seeing anyone who looked like her in the media. When she was contacted by a friend if she had any pictures she could share with a little girl who had one arm, she decided to show that girls with prosthetics could be princesses too. She posted pictures of herself in an amazing handmade Cinderella costume, with a glass arm instead of a glass slipper.
Mandy took the pictures earlier this summer for a costume competition but a medical problem meant she couldn’t compete in the end and she was going to save them for next year. But hearing about the little girl who was looking for someone like her, Mandy decided to show the world her take on the fairytale. She said: ‘When my daughter was studying Cinderella stories at school last year, I realized that even though there were so many beautiful tales from around the world, there were still no princesses who looked like me.
‘When I was growing up with a physical difference, I never saw girls like myself represented in the media, so it took me a long time to realize that what makes us different can also be the thing that makes us strong, beautiful, and unapologetically unique.
‘So what do you do when you can’t find a princess like you? You make up your own!’ Mandy spent hours making her ballgown and a prince’s uniform for the cosplay and she approached artist Gilbert Lozano to ask him to help her to design the glass arm. With the help of a construction company and a medical clinic, she was able to create a glass arm she could wear. She put the whole costume together and posed with her husband Ryan to create the amazing pictures, taken by photographer Kelly Anderson.
‘This costume is dedicated to all the little girls learning to navigate the world with their “lucky fins” or other challenges. ‘I hope you know you are beautiful, and that you are UNSTOPPABLE!!! Write your own story, and be your own kind of princess,’ she said. The post went viral with over 24,000 shares and 32,000 likes and Mandy said she was overwhelmed by the response.
She added: ‘I am literally just blown away by all the love and support. All of you fabulous people have created this beautiful corner of positivity and light and are just shooting it out there and it is amazing. ‘But my most favorite part is seeing all these little “lucky fin” princesses and princes in the comments. ‘Please shower these kids with all the love too because they are adorable and awesome exactly the way they are! I know they are going to write some great stories one day too.’
Mandy has even started a new cosplay page Be the Spark in response to the support she’s received. She hopes to create more costumes of more characters to show the beauty of differences. She said: ‘I want to create a space that celebrates people who break out of the mold and create characters that inspire others to do the same. We cosplay characters because they inspire us to be bold, to be kind, and to make a difference in the world. But the secret is that we had those powers inside us all along.’