Importance of representation in media

Diversity in media provides an accurate reflection of our world

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Photo by Henry Söderlund via Creative Commons

A boy reads a book. By having proper representation of minority and disadvantaged groups in media, individuals belonging to them can gain comfort in knowing they can relate to their favorite characters.

For the majority of individuals, relating to a fictional character brings forth feelings of comfort. Whether they are the protagonist of a fantasy novel or hero of an action packed film, representation in media leaves a lasting impact on readers and moviegoers alike. It provides a sense of belonging, empowerment, and, more importantly, confidence to aim for the goals we strive to achieve.

While numerous bestselling authors and influential figures in Hollywood have made strides toward promoting inclusivity, the overall lack of diverse characters remains a problem, and it is overwhelmingly evident.

People who are ethnically, racially, religiously, and sexually diverse exist, and their presence in our world largely contributes to its vibrancy.”

— Features co-Editor Ximena Bejarano

The impact of having proper representation in media on individuals is considerably large. In a society where media, ranging from television shows to websites, serves as a central aspect of our lives, the content that is presented to us through these mediums is more influential than we realize. Consequently, when there is a lack of diverse characters in media, those belonging to minority and marginalized groups will begin perceiving themselves as outsiders of their communities.

In a world as diverse as ours, this is anything but true.

From merely observing our surroundings, it can easily be concluded that our population does not fit into a single mold. People who are ethnically, racially, religiously, and sexually diverse exist, and their presence in our world largely contributes to its vibrancy.

As a result, meaningful efforts toward representing every individual in media will allow for exciting content that accurately depicts reality. “[Movies] are about imagination, about people making universes and worlds in which we want to explore. And within it has to be a reflection of our world, and unfortunately, our world is not one color,” “Star Wars” actor John Boyega said in an interview.

Aside from portraying our world through a realistic lens, representation in media also allows those belonging in minority and marginalized groups to feel validated for who they are. By being depicted in a positive light, they can distance themselves from stereotypes and other prejudices, allowing them to gain confidence in themselves.

Even by introducing characters that are not the epitome of perfection but still portrayed in a positive context, individuals can gain comfort knowing that they are not isolated in facing certain difficulties in life.

The benefits of increasing inclusivity in media substantially outweigh the disadvantages, if any disadvantages even exist. By actively making efforts to improve diversity in media, content creators will be successful in reproducing the world as it is. More importantly, they will give individuals the opportunity to find joy through characters they can relate to.