Why Representation Matters for Children and Their Self Esteem
Representation matters for children. It really does. The old saying that “if you can see it, you can be it” is so true. When children see other kids on screen, online or anywhere in society who share similar attributes to them, they see themselves. They see potential. They see possibilities.
Children discover more about the world outside, but also about themselves when they see themselves represented. This article explores how representation improves children’s self esteem and why it is so important that we all strive to demand better representation based on background, gender, abilities and other factors.
Representation in the Media
We all consume media, and most of us watch television. Whether that is live TV on the main channels, catch-up programmes or streaming services.
Because it is such a massive presence in our lives, and the lives of our children, it makes sense that we want to see authentic stories told by a representative cross section of society. However, in the UK it seems that we are failing in this.
The latest figures show that, in 2021, ethnic minority representation behind the scenes in TV stood at 11.8% last year, down from 12.3% in 2019. This is below the UK workforce estimate of 13%. In addition, the workforce in TV includes 5.8% of people with disabilities off-screen and 8.2% on-screen, compared to a national average of 17%.
Representation matters, and lack of representation means that our children aren’t seeing the stories that they need to see on screen from the people who need to tell them.
Why Representation Matters in Media
When you don’t see your life represented in the places you consume media, it can affect your self esteem. It can make you feel ‘lesser’ or like an ‘other’. Every child deserves the same opportunities in life, but when you don’t see people like you doing the things you want to do, it can be easy to think those doors are closed to you.
If you do see your truth shown on screen or online, you feel part of a community, you feel validated. And that is really powerful for a child’s self esteem to understand this. They see there is someone like them who is doing something amazing. That means that they can do it too. It helps develop a positive mindset and a determination to achieve.
Being able to see yourself reflected in society helps inform a child about the challenges and opportunities they can take. It gives them guidance on handling the curveballs that life throws at them.
How Other People See You
The benefits of representation are not limited to how a child sees themself, though. It also helps other people learn about different cultures, views, abilities and more. It makes the unfamiliar familiar, which is important for battling prejudice.
By showing all types of different people in high profile places, it helps other children understand and accept a wider variety of people. It prevents them from forming potentially damaging views due to the fear of the unknown and helps them become more accepting and inclusive.
For children who have not always been represented, this reduces the number of obstacles that can stand in their way. They move away from being seen as just stereotypes, which happens when you do not represent real stories. Representation shows the humanity of the people being represented. You don’t define them by a few characteristics, you see them as real people with real feelings, hopes and dreams.
Representation really does matter!
How Fefus Designs Promotes Representation
At Fefus Designs, I make it my duty to create items that children of all colours love and which represent them. From clothing to greeting cards to keyrings and more, children see my designs and feel empowered, strong and beautiful. These are items that all children use, but which so often do not represent all children.
Children of all colours deserve to see themselves reflected in the things they love and now they can, through my art and designs. Representation matters and that is why I want to represent as many children as I can with my work. Browse the shop now to see the diverse products your kids will love.
Wow such a powerful blog.. everything said is 100, and also why I do what I do. Thank you for putting this out there, we need more.