Seeing fictional, real women of color as role models opens a whole new world of possibilities for young girls


Photo courtesy of Olivia Navarro

Olivia Navarro is currently a senior and is looking forward to going to college next semester. As of now, she plans to major in leadership community engagement or political science. 2021 marks Navarro’s second year in the Student Leadership Team, this year taking on the role of Logistics Officer. Other than Student Leadership, Navarro is involved with cheer and Student Council. Navarro believes a huge part of her identity has been shaped by her Korean and Hispanic background. She hopes that through her writing, she can share a new perspective on mixed race issues and representation that often overlooked.

Olivia Navarro, guest columnist

When I discovered Princess Jasmine in Disney’s Aladdin, I immediately became obsessed. I dressed up as her for three years in a row for Halloween.

As a young girl, Princess Jasmine was the first representation of a brown girl who kinda sorta looked like me, being a princess. The discovery of Mulan and Pocahontas brought me the same joy.

Looking back on it, Princess Jasmine’s presence in my childhood was extremely important. For the first time in my young life, I saw a main character who resembled me. As an adult, when I watched Kamala Harris become vice president, I felt a surge of hope, pride and dignity. There sitting in the second highest position of power was a woman of color, someone I felt could represent me.

Growing up, I clung to any character who I felt could slightly resemble, me but was often left disappointed by the lack of representation in novels and movies.

I read frequently as a young child. If a description of the characters had not been given by the author, I would occasionally picture the female protagonist to resemble myself or my friends.

When film adaptations would come along, these same characters who I had imagined as BIPOC were cast as white, even if never specified in novels. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson–these are all unfortunate examples of the normalized white-washing in the media.

For BIPOC children, the experience of feeling underrepresented and unseen continues on with history textbooks, movies, media and even social media.

Seeing yourself in the media, in stories, in positions of power-all of it helps you shape a narrative of what someone like you can become.

Being able to picture yourself as the hero, the love interest, the leader; it’s vital. For BIPOC children, the experience of feeling underrepresented and unseen continues on with history textbooks, movies, media and even social media. Many BIPOC people have yet to see representation of themselves within the media. Instead, minorities are often portrayed as stereotypes, and many of these portrayals are sadly inaccurate and even harmful.