Lifestyle & Human Interest

Woman Has 'Cinderella' Photo Shoot with Glass Prosthetic Arm To Teach Girls Different Is Beautiful


A real-life “princess” went viral after she uploaded pictures from a “Cinderella”-themed photo shoot with one very special twist.

Mandy Pursley, a graphic designer who has one arm, got the idea for her fairy tale photos last year when her daughter started studying Cinderella stories across various cultures in school.

It was then that the mom realized she had never seen a princess like herself onscreen or in a book — someone who didn’t look quite the same. Not only that, but she couldn’t remember seeing amputee women in the media while she was growing up.

“I remember being enthralled watching Jim Abbott play baseball, because he was the only amputee I had ever seen on television,” she told Insider. “But I still never saw amputee women being portrayed as normal, beautiful, or strong.”

“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,” she wrote on Facebook.

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The designer decided to partner with an artist to create something magical — something that would remind girls who had special needs that they are beautiful too.

“Representation is so powerful,” Pursley said to Insider. “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.”

She spent months sewing a costume, creating her own princess look — complete with an outfit for her own Prince Charming, her husband, Ryan.

The artist created the perfect final touch: instead of glass slippers, a prosthetic glass arm for Pursley to wear.

“Glass slippers are SO last year,” she wrote.

The designer and her husband dressed up for the photo shoot, posing in all the classic “Cinderella” stances. They even included a photo of Ryan chasing after Pursley with her glass arm in his hand.

The shoot was a fun and special way for Pursley to celebrate her differences — and that’s all she expected it to be, until several months later.

A friend ended up asking Pursley if she could offer some encouragement to a young girl who shared her disability.

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“A friend asked me today if I had any pictures I could share with a little girl who was born with one arm,” Pursley wrote. Of course, she had just the thing.

Sharing the photos from the Cinderella shoot, the mom wrote, “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.”

“Write your own story, and be your own kind of princess,” she added.

Immediately, the pictures garnered thousands of likes, shares and comments, as users called the idea inspiring and stunning.

Pursley was glad to have the opportunity to offer hope and encouragement to those who were struggling to embrace their uniqueness.

The post’s success even inspired Pursley to start a Facebook page called Be the Spark Cosplay, where people can share uplifting stories and support for one another through cosplay and art.

“My goal with this page is to use cosplay and art as a means to highlight the beauty of our differences!” the page’s About section reads. “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.”

“After reading thousands of comments, I am absolutely amazed that it has been nothing but uplifting, supportive, and inspirational messages!” Pursley wrote online.

“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,” she said.

The Western Journal reached out to Mandy Pursley but has not received a response. We will update this article if and when we do.

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Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Laura Stewart was an associate story editor and news and lifestyle contributor for The Western Journal.
Phoenix, AZ