Let's Talk About Representation

12:00 AM Serena 0 Comments

I've wanted to write about this for a while, but I've held off because there are so many more people who have talked about the importance of representation far more eloquently than I ever could (including the amazing Tehlor Kinney and Camryn Garrett on Twitter, who are always saying The Best Things). But the more talk about, the more I realized that I should put in my own two cents because it might be beneficial to me to put all my feels out into the world. So let me just sit down and tell y'all why I personally believe that the media needs better representation of marginalized peoples. 

It is frustrating and honestly kind of confusing that mainstream media is still dominated by cishet white people. Because that's not how the world is. And what's even more frustrating is that, when there are marginalized people being represented in media, they're usually characters that fulfill stereotypes, and it's toxic

That is a good question, Regina George. Why are we still pretending that marginalized people can't live normal lives? Why are we making Asian characters warriors or stuck-up smart kids? Why are black characters bad people? Why can't Mexican characters be successful? Why can't we keep queer characters in television alive? What is UP with that? 

When I was little, I loved Mulan and Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior and Avatar: The Last Airbender because they had characters who were Asian, like me...but they weren't like me. They all had strong Asian women, which was really cool, but at the same time, they all satisfied stereotypes of Asian people, which was less cool. I've had to search and search for representation that I could actually relate to because everywhere I looked, in everything I watched and read, there were white people living "normal" lives. Was I not normal? It was all a very strange and confusing time that could have possibly been made less so by positive representation, but HEY, the world will never know. 

Anyway, flash forward to years in the future when I was introduced to the first character that I could truly see myself in. I'll never forget it. That character was Vanessa, in Dahlia Adler's Under the Lights. Vanessa was raised in an Asian family and she was figuring out her sexuality, which may not seem like the norm to some people, but that was my normal. I didn't know it, but I needed her. She was important. It would've taken me forever to figure myself out without her. But I had her, and it was okay. 
So yeah. I think representation is important. People should be able to see themselves more widely represented. Kids should be able to. They shouldn't have to ask why there aren't people like them because there are. Nothing would make me happier than to see media expand beyond this white-washed, cishet era it's stuck in.