Editor’s Note: Babble is a part of the Walt Disney Company.
We tell our kids every day that they can be “anything they want to be” when they grow up. But how can anyone really believe that anything is possible if they don’t see it before them? Now more than ever, the importance of seeing strong female role models — on TV, in social media, and in our everyday lives — is crucial for young girls. And that’s precisely what drives a recent photo project launched by Disney, as part of the #DreamBigPrincess campaign.
This past summer, Disney teamed up with 19 female photographers from 15 different countries in pursuit of one mission: To highlight the inspiring stories of young girls and women all over the world who are either breaking down barriers, or hoping to do so one day soon.
The goal? To prove to girls everywhere that the only limitations that truly stand in their way are the ones they place on themselves. Because seeing truly is believing — and it’s more apparent now than ever that our children need to believe they can be anything they want to be.
“The idea that stories, whether real life or fictional like those of Belle or Rapunzel, can inspire kids to follow their dreams is at the heart of the #DreamBigPrincess campaign,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, when speaking about the campaign. “We asked some of the most accomplished female photographers to help tell the stories of inspiring women and girls from around the world — and the results are incredible.”
They certainly are.
“Dreaming big is something kids are born with,” says photographer Annie Griffiths. “We all come into this world really not putting any limitations on ourselves. But if you continue to tell kids to dream big, to try big, to think big, it ignites that precious curiosity.”
Griffiths is just one of the 19 photographers Disney tapped for the #DreamBigPrincess campaign, who were drawn to the project because of the strong message it carried for young girls. Griffith herself is an inspiration to women everywhere: At just 25, she became one of National Geographic‘s first-ever female photographers, and in the years since, she’s traveled the globe in pursuit of stunning images — all while raising two children. Griffith is also the founder of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of photographers who document programs that are empowering girls and women throughout the developing world.
But it’s the stories of the young women in front of the lens that are truly inspiring in their own right. Just take the story of 14-year-old Grace Bunke of Marietta, Georgia, who was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer at just 11. Over the last few years, Grace has bravely underwent treatment and surgery. Today she continues her favorite activity, running — and dreams of being a future Paralympian.
“She’s making everyone believe in miracles, in finding strength where you thought there was none and hope when you didn’t see any,” say photographer Kate T. Parker.
A Brazilian-born junior athlete named Sol is also on a path towards beating some incredible odds. At just 11 years old — and after just one year of learning how to surf — she’s now regularly competing in regional championships, and is often the youngest in every competition she participates in. Her big dream? To become the first female world champion surfer from Brazil.
By the looks of things, it seems she’s well on her way.
Other subjects in the photo series include teen girls living in poverty-stricken sections of India, who are defying tradition by continuing to pursue their education, a teen Paralympian from China, and even the youngest-ever speaker at the U.N.
Yet as inspiring as these stories are, Disney wants to take things one step further: Now until October 11, 2017, like a public image with #DreamBigPrincess or post your own photo publicly using #DreamBigPrincess on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and Disney Worldwide Services will donate US$1 to Girl Up for each action, for a minimum donation of US$500,000 and a maximum of US$1 Million. Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s program supports adolescent girls’ leadership and empowerment.
Because every ceiling that was ever shattered, and every wall that was ever climbed, started first with a dream. And by showing our girls that those dreams can be a reality, maybe they really will believe one day that the sky’s the limit.