A woman who is missing part of her arm became fed up with a lack of amputee representation in media, so she decided to create her own — and the result has warmed the hearts of thousands.
Mandy Pursley shared photos of herself all dressed up as Cinderella, adding an inventive twist on the classic Disney princess: Instead of the character's iconic glass slipper, Pursley is wearing a specially made glass prosthetic arm.
Pursley and her husband Ryan, who dressed as Prince Charming for the photoshoot, even recreated the scene where Cinderella loses her slipper at the ball — with Ryan chasing after her and waving the glass arm in the air.
In a post that has since been shared over 25,000 times, Pursley explained the motivation behind her creative cosplay.
"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!" she wrote on Facebook. "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."
Pursley also explained that she had been saving the photos to compete in a costume contest next summer after a "medical fiasco" prevented her from entering a competition this year. But she said was spurred to post them now instead, after a friend asked her if she had any pictures she could share with a little girl who was born with one arm.
"I realized that we never know what the future may hold... but we can still bring joy to people today!" she wrote.
After her post went viral, Pursley shared an update, saying she couldn't believe the overwhelming response her photos had received from strangers around the world.
Her favorite part, she added, was seeing photos of "little 'lucky fin' princesses and princes" in the comments, sharing their own stories and photos of their physical differences.
"Please shower these kids with all the love too because they are adorable and awesome exactly the way they are!" Pursley wrote. "I know they are going to write some great stories one day too!"
Pursley has now created a fan page called Be the Spark Cosplay, where she says she hopes to "use cosplay and art as a means to highlight the beauty of our differences" and celebrate "people who break out of the mold and create characters that inspire others to do the same."