Growing up, my favorite Disney princess was Mulan. I loved the independence and strength she had in addition to the power she held when defending her country and family. But mostly, I love Mulan because she was the only Asian Disney character I had seen. Before her, I was used to seeing princesses such as Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, and Belle and I had only seen white princesses. I didn’t know that someone like me could be seen in the media. I thought that was reserved for the characters with blonde hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Now, I know that this is not true, but growing up I was discouraged and hurt by the lack of representation of myself and my culture in the media.
Currently, representation in the media for minorities has increased dramatically and for that I am grateful. However, it is still not enough. The fact that I am grateful for these diverse characters shows just how much we need to normalize the diversity seen on TV today. We shouldn’t be in awe of the media giving us representation. There should not have to be any gratitude given to them. The diversity in the media should be seen as normal, not special. We are all used to white characters in movies and TV shows. We are never surprised when a new TV show casts all White main characters. Although diversity in the media has risen in the past few years, it is not enough. Diversity in the media needs to be viewed as typical and should not be applauded when finally seen in one movie.
Currently, minorities are still being used as comic relief, stereotypes, and the supporting characters that guide the main leads through their troubled lives. In so many movies and TV shows, minorities are almost never cast as the lead, but the funny best friend, the evil boss, or the supporting characters who cheer when the main characters succeed. They are almost always placed into various stereotypes and cast because of their appearance. Many minorities are cast just for their race. This happens so that the movie can appear to be diverse and socially acceptable. These boundaries need to be broken down. Society has to normalize the main characters being of different races and tear down the stereotypes of certain races. This needs to be done so that America is accurately represented. True diversity and the melting pot of culture in America needs to be shown.
We need to be better as a society and make sure that future generations can look at the TV and say, “Wow! They look like me!”. If they don’t see anybody like them, they may grow discouraged and believe that they don’t deserve to be in the spotlight like the characters they love so much. The mindset of not being the “main character” in their lives leads them to believe that their role is reduced to the side character that helps everyone else. They need to know that they are special and are seen. Change needs to be made. America needs to diversify its media and correctly represent all of the cultures in our society without the harmful stereotypes. It’s time for us to do better.