Italian artist Alexsandro Palombo is speaking out about the lack of amputees and disabled characters in pop culture with his latest series, portraying Disney princesses in wheelchairs or with missing limbs. Advocates say the message is much-needed.
From Snow White in a wheelchair to Pocahontas limping on crutches with only one leg, they’re Disney princesses like you’ve never seen them before.
Outspoken artist and fashion critic Alexsandro Palombo’s latest piece portrays the cartoon beauties as disabled women, a stark contrast from the Disney classics.
“I wanted to give visibility to a problem that affects a great amount of people in the world,” Palombo, 40, told the Daily News.
The Milan-based artist poses the question, “Do you still like us?” next to his series of reimagined princesses, some being carted in their wheelchairs by Prince Charmings, others posing alone as double amputees.
“Have you ever seen a disabled protagonist in a Disney movie?” he asks on his blog, Humor Chic. “You sure don’t because disability doesn’t match Disney standards!”
Experts say the artist’s campaign is much-needed.
“One out of every five Americans has a disability of some kind,” Carol Glazer, president of the National Disabilities Organization, told the Daily News.
“So when you portray popular iconic figures, like Disney princesses, without any of them having disabilities, you’re cutting out 20% of the population.”
Glazer applauds TV shows like “Push Girls” and “Glee,” which put stars who use wheelchairs in the spotlight, and slammed the suggestion the shows are exploitative.
“People who call that insensitive are not really seeing the whole picture of disability,” she said. “All you’re saying is that there’s a broad range of people in this world. And that’s an important message.”
Susan Stout, interim president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition, said she would love to see one of Palombo’s princesses on the big screen.
“We want everyone to know it is possible to live well with limb loss,” she told the Daily News. “A Disney Princess would help raise awareness and, in turn, acceptance of limb loss.”
Palombo, known for scandalous sketches of fashion bigs like Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld, explained he launched the campaign to speak out against his own discrimination as an amputee.
“Two years ago I had a rare form of cancer and I had to have it removed,” he said. “After the surgery, my upper limb and half lower limb on the left side are paralyzed.”
His earlier works feature Wintour clutching a butcher’s knife and a bunny’s head, wearing a blood-strained apron that says, “I love rabbit” — a dig at the angora-obsessed fashion industry. Another paints style star Victoria Beckham as a bikini-clad skeleton with an “Anorexic Fashion Icon” sash.