Two Winnipeg moms are pushing for change after being told their eight-year-old daughter is “too big” for a dress at the Princess for a Day charity event.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking actually,” mom Jennifer Carter said. “I fluctuate between being heartbroken and sad and just really, really angry.”
The event, brings together 120 young girls, many of whom are fighting life-threatening or chronic illness, and outfits them with jewels, sparkling tiaras and princess ball gowns.
For the past two years eight-year-old Eva has attended with her sister Cher, who has been going through cancer treatment for Lymphoma.
“It’s an amazing event the girls have done together for the past two years,” Carter said. “It makes her feel special and pretty and it’s exciting for her.”
Carter was hoping her daughter would have the same great experience this year, but that all changed.
“Last year her dress was a little snug on her, so this year we were asked to give measurements for her,” Carter told Global News.
“So I measured her waist and sent it to her step-mom and (she) forwarded that to the people in charge.”
The women were told Eva was too big.
“The largest dress they have is 26 inches,” step-mom Shaylene Blomme said. “Eva happened to be a 38 so they did not have a dress that would fit her.”
According to the registration page on the event’s website the princess dresses are only available in sizes small, medium, and large with dress maximum waist size of 26″.
All of the children attending are between the ages of six and nine.
“You cannot have an age range and a size range,” Blomme said. “That’s wrong.”
“How do you tell an eight-year-old she can’t go to an event because she’s too big to fit the dresses,” Carter said. “No eight-year-old should have to experience that.”
“What am I supposed to say to our daughter,” Blomme said. “What are you supposed to say to her that is not a damaging body image at 8-years-old?”
Blomme and Carter reached out to the organizer, Stella Mazza to try to find a fix.
“We were given the option of her not going or attending the event with no dress,” Carter said. “Shey offered to purchase a dress ourselves for the event so Eva wouldn’t feel left out and would have a dress for the event and they wouldn’t permit that.”
When contacted by Global News, Mazza reiterated the size restriction but said it’s because all of the dresses for the girls are the same.
“The website does say 26″ for the dresses that we supply to our guest princesses,” Mazza said in an emailed statement to Global News.
“These dresses are all the same and similar in sizing to what one would find at the Disney store in their child-size category.”
Mazza also said, “in the past we had received feedback that when wearing their own gowns some of the princesses felt out of place from the majority of dresses being the same.”
It’s for that reason both moms say they want to see change, so all children can feel comfortable and included.
Hours after being contacted by Global News, the event website was updated to include an extra line about dress sizing adding “if your child will be more comfortable in another dress please contact us so we are aware and can make arrangements.”
Eva’s parents said they are upset with the response they received from Mazza.
They don’t want to hinder the good work the event does, but said it needs to be more inclusive for children of all sizes.
“They’re children and this is a day that’s supposed to support and celebrate them and everything they’ve been through,” Carter said.
“They’ve already had struggles the last thing they need is to worry about what size dress they fit in.”
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