After two letters to my daughter and one towards black women, I really spent a lot of time thinking about what young women go through in our world. How can I prepare my daughter or at least make her feel as powerful as I believe she can be? Who do girls look up to and how can I make sure it’s right?
A few weeks ago, I was on a plane that had free Ted Talks and came across a truly interesting talk by Christopher Bell from University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.
I was stunned. I knew to some extent that Disney always had a slant towards a particular kind of marketing but I didn’t realize how seriously deep it went. I guess you never look at toy isles until you have a reason. I started to think about how marketing affects children. How entire series are boiled down into toy sales (Teen Titans vs. Teen Titans Go). How Mattel created the phrase Action Figures to capitalize on flipping marketing of the same products towards boys. Even with Moana, one of the best portrayal of female empowerment Disney ever made without hiding femininity, still had marketing curiously centered around the male character.
I knew that women characters, similar to minority heroes, always get shallow portrayals (I’m looking at you, Black Widow and Lois Lane). I am constantly dismayed by the customary “black sidekick” (Falcon, War Machine, numerous brown faces on Disney Shows) or “sassy minority woman” (Cristina Yang on Grey’s, Pepper Pots Iron Man) or just the poorly done (Storm, Catwoman…honestly… Halle Berry) as if we only can be boiled down to attitude, comedic timing, physical adeptness, or loyal servitude. Women go straight to sex symbol with no intermediate.
Added on to my Altar List (Things I want to do before or around the time I get married), I want to write an image positive comic for my daughter. I want the women to be full-fledged heroes where they may need everything in the world, except a savior. That’s not a new concept or it shouldn’t be. I straight up would want to design a hero for her to always look towards as a powerful, beautiful, and well-rounded woman who isn’t objectified for her body in character design. Batgirl of Burnside or Captain Marvel with Kamala Khan does a way better job than Powergirl or Harley Quinn.
So, I’ve been looking up comics dedicated to girls that really almost bring me to tears each time I read them. Devon Still (has the same birthday as me) of the Houston Texans (NFL) dedicated an animated book to his daughter struggling through stage four cancer. It helped raise $1.4 Million for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research. Two years later, she has been declared cancer free and now has her own superhero.
Another great example has been Yannick Vicente that didn’t make a superhero out of her but captured all the beautiful moments of single parenthood.
I’m not 100% sure how I will do it. I’m not sure what it will look like, but I want to let my daughter know she is loved and that she can be strong. Girls deserve to have positive images to look at. Representation matters and I’m not going to let a billion dollar corporation like Disney control how my daughter thinks about herself. She is already a hero in my eyes before she even exists.
What’s some ways you see yourself supporting the youth in a positive way? Any examples of personal struggles with seeking out representation? How can we support positive imagery in the media better? Where are all the women at?
Check Out I am Leah Strong to support the awesome book.
I also came across a great family comic series called Lovepot Magic Comic.