San Diego

Cinderella Trades Glass Slipper For Glass Arm in Viral Photo Shoot

Dressed as Cinderella and accompanied by her Prince Charming, a San Diego woman who could never completely identify with the princesses she grew up adoring saw her dreams come true with one magical photo shoot.

Like many girls, Mandy Pursley always dreamed about being a princess, but she could never quite settle on which one.

“None of them were exactly like me,” she said. “I had to identify with people who weren’t just like me,”

That’s because Pursley was born without her right forearm. Throughout her life she battled with the image of the perfect princess and what she saw in the mirror.

A couple of years ago when Pursley was reading with her daughter Cayleigh, she realized there are still no princesses like her. So the graphic designer decided to use her creativity and stage a photoshoot that would inspire little girls across the country.

For the shoot, Pursley settled on Cinderella, but with a twist. She designed her own gown and the uniform worn by her husband, but what took Pursley beyond the role and made her feel like a real life princess was her magical glass arm.

“I felt like a real princess and it really felt like a dream was coming true,” Pursley said. “Honestly, I cried because it was so beautiful and amazing to see this be a reality.”

She worked with an artist and a team of experts to fit her with a clear resin arm -- one suitable for a princess.

Pursley’s friend Kelly Anderson took the photos that turned out to be an instant hit on social media.

“I think it sends a really great message to little girls, especially,” Anderson said. “You can be creative. You can be beautiful. You can be the main character in your own story.”

Pursley and her husband originally planned to wear their costumes at Comic-Con but Pursley got sick and couldn’t attend. After some thought they decided to share the photos from the shoot online.

“Everybody deserves a happy ending,” Pursley said.

Purlsey says wearing a uniform was no big deal for her husband who is a Marine Staff Sergeant at MCAS Miramar, but posing for the pictures was tough.

“He’s not quite as excited about going viral for being a cartoon character,” she said.

For her next creative prosthetic Pursley is thinking about a Steampunk arm.

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