Umm, can you tell just how excited I am, friends?!?!?!? The Washington Post is a BIG deal for me, ever since I saw All The President’s Men, so I’m beyond thrilled to share my second piece for their On Parenting section!! I got to write about Mandy Mouse, the new character in a wheelchair on British import Peppa Pig, and how ordinary her introduction was. Spoiler alert: That’s a GOOD thing! Disability representation is having a moment in 2019 and I’m here for it!
Peppa Pig is incredibly popular with the under-5 set, as I learned during my interviews with experts and parents. And for good reason! The show presents wonderful, relevant lessons for children, and the lessons are subtly woven into the plot instead of just stated outright. Surprisingly, it was Ms. Bear who gave me the idea to write about Mandy Mouse, and I’m so glad she did. Mandy was presented as just another new character, not a new character in a wheelchair. She talked about her wheelchair, but it never felt forced or out of step with the rest of the episode.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece, and I’m extra happy because the editors chose the headline I suggested, which rarely happens in the freelance writing business…
It’s essential that children with disabilities see themselves represented on their favorite TV shows, and it’s just as important that able-bodied children see these disabilities as well. Mandy Mouse gives me hope for the future. She gives me hope that the next generation won’t have to wonder why there aren’t characters like them on TV. She gives me hope that children won’t be afraid when they meet someone with a disability — that meeting them is, like on “Peppa Pig,” no big deal. She gives me hope that when it comes to inclusion, real, lasting change is possible.
Yes, seeing the person (er, mouse) instead of the disability. This is what inclusion is all about. On TV and in real life.
You can read the full piece here and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat! And of course, feel free to share my essay on Facebook, Twitter or even your local refrigerator. If you share on Twitter, be sure to tag me @melissablake so we can connect! I can’t wait to hear from you! Love you all… xoxo