YOUNG VOICES: The importance of proper representation

2014-05-12T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: The importance of proper representationBy Gina Twardosz nwitimes.com
May 12, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Representation: the description or portrayal of someone or something in a particular way or as being of a certain nature.

Teens are impressionable. They’re affected profoundly by what they see and hear through media. Of course bad influences in the media are rampant, but here’s another: wrong or lax representation.

In our society, we have few to no representatives of minorities, transgender or LGBPA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, asexual). Positive representation of races, genders and sexualities is important; if overlooked in mainstream media, a teen identifying with this may feel overlooked and underappreciated in real life. They may feel unsure of their self, and have issues on whether they belong.

Media needs less appropriation of minorities. By appropriating minorities, their culture is being disrespected. Also there is a huge need for minorities to represent minorities and minority protagonists. Lead characters who are superheroes or princes/princesses need to be represented by minorities too. This is important for the self-esteem of children and teens, and is realistic.

Society needs more representation of transgender individuals. There’s hardly any in the media. It takes so much courage to come out and speak about who you are; why can’t there be some representation of this? Why can’t transgender characters become the new normal?

Aren't we a society that promotes the shining through of inner beauty and personal strength? Then how hard is it to portray such characters in a positive light, in a normal atmosphere?

The media also need more positive media representation for LGBPA people. This is especially important considering the challenges these teens face and their fight for equality. What a great way to break ground toward their equality than to portray them proudly and prominently in a movie or TV show.

Of course, there can’t be misrepresentation either. Their sexuality should not be some defining characteristic; it should not be the only relevant and easily discernible thing about them. This is as bad as no representation at all; media are basically telling gay/lesbian teens that if they want to be noticed or respected at all, they have to behave a certain way.

This is not challenging. We should be aware of our differences, but showcase them in a spectacular array of positive representation. It’s a simple task, positively representing a minority, transgender or gay/lesbian character in a movie or TV show. Then why is it so hard?

Putting a transgender character in a show, positively representing a gay/lesbian character, or casting an African American to play an African American character, isn't hard. What is hard is feeling worth something in a society that ignores you. Our society and the media need to wake up and realize that there are all sorts of people in this world.

Gina Twardosz, of Valparaiso, is a sophomore at Valparaiso High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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