I have seen a lot of articles lately pertaining to why representation matters in today’s society. From the Final Five in the Olympics to animated new princesses like Elena of Avalor, I am excited for the embracing of diversity so far. I think it’s truly a step in the right direction. Television shows, I believe, have become even more diverse in the past couple of years. Here are my thoughts and a few reasons as to why representation matters to me as a young black woman.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines representation as, “the description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way or being of a certain nature.” Now, based on this definition, I can think of some awesome examples, but also some bad examples of how this is used today. I believe that one of the main reasons why representation matters is because I was able to see myself.
I will never forget one of the first times I saw someone that looked like me on television. I was a little girl, sitting in front of the television and an episode of Moesha came on. Now, for those that don’t know, Moesha was a sitcom about a young black girl who was trying to navigate high school life, her social life with friends and family life after her father get married again. I saw a young girl with dark skin, long braids, and a cool 90’s outfit on the screen and I honestly cried. I cried because I didn’t see many shows like that growing up. For once, I saw someone like me on television. Moesha was a positive role model. It was glorious and Brandy (the actress who played Moesha), if you ever read this article, from the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
Secondly, representation matters is because you will be able to believe in yourself and your accomplishments. I remember the first time that I saw "Cinderella," (the version with Brandy and Whitney Houston in it, by the way). I truly couldn’t believe that I was seeing a young black princess. That image made me believe that I was a princess too and that I was worthy. It made me believe that my dreams can come true, just like hers did. In a similar fashion, I am so happy that Princess Elena of Avalor is on television right now. I am so happy to see that positive image portrayed for little girls and little boys to show that they can be leaders, no matter their age. With being able to see someone who looks like you, you start to believe that you can do anything and make a change in this world.
Thirdly, representation matters because you will be able to see complex sides of yourself. Let me just say, Thank God for Shonda Rhimes!! Shonda Rhimes is the writer and producer of "Scandal," "How to Get Away with Murder," "Grey’s Anatomy," and more. She is not afraid to write episodes that ‘go there” and make the audience think. With characters like Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating, she specifically shows the vulnerabilities of black women. We are not “angry” all the time. We are not ‘sassy” all the time. These characters show their emotional depth like broken hearts, confusion, and even being overwhelmed. We are very strong, but we are not strong 24/7. Olivia admitted to needing a shoulder to lean on as did Annalise. Through this, they are able to show sides of themselves that the audience can identify with.
So, there it is. There are many more reasons as to why representation matters, but here are a few. I hope you celebrate the diversity around you whether that is school, work, or even your group of friends. What are some reasons as to why representation matters to you?