I love Disney, but I do not love Disney channel... their racial and gender stereotyping that is. For the moment, I would like to focus on a particular image of a recurring stereotype that is personally offensive... Blonde White Girls... as I am one.
I am blonde, Caucasian, and female but that by no means indicates that I am dumb and have a mind that is focused solely on friendships, clothing, boys, and all things self serving. My interests, believe it or not, expand far beyond those demeaning stereotypes that Disney is doing nothing to counteract in the minds of our youth.
Let's examine the current female blondes parading the Disney screen:
Liv- interested in acting, shopping, looking good, singing, boys, friends, and is portrayed as a ditz for the majority of the show
Maddie- interested in sports, friends, boys, doesn't care about appearances as much (which is totally refreshing as well as being openly active and competitive!), shows no major interest in academics as far as I can recall..... However, this is the besst female blonde character that Disney seemed to be able to come up with.
Marisa- dumb blonde and best friend to KC who provides comic relief out of her stupidity and self absorption and who's sole represented values are her appearance, clothing, shopping, gossip, boys and the maintenance of her friendships
Girl Meets World:
Maya Heart- does not care about school or grades, is artistic, cares about clothes and boys but not overly... she is mostly represented as being her own person, but kind of lacks a strong identity or backbone outside of her interest in art and her friendships (once again only creative talents are featured as a Caucasian female's strongest suit)
Emma- into fashion, started a blog, likes boys and her friends, is a ditz all of the time and jokes are made out of her naivety, she is the "pretty blonde" with the represented low self esteem
Best Friends Whenever:
Shelby- completely clueless and messes things up out of her stupidity, into clothing and appearances, superficial, there was one episode where she learned how to code a website for trading crafts (however the only person who is taken seriously for his brain is Barry, the socially challenged brainiac who turned Syd and Shelby into accidental time travelers). So Shelby is known for being a stupid, yet charismatic, friend.
Those are the main shows that seem to be airing, and there is not a single one that airs a female blonde for reasons beyond being the male interest, the comedic relief, etc. Maddie and Maya are the closest to positive female role models that we can see, but none show a strong independent mind that can show young girls that they can be more than a pretty face.
But there are girls like Tiffany (Bunk'd) and Smackle (Girl Meets World) who fit the stereotype of the girl who is struggling to socialize but is academically gifted. Both characters must be taught and assisted by their more socially aware friends to be more "normal" and less "weird." Tiffany is made a mockery of for using science jokes to try and flirt with a boy, and the fact that Smackle thinks that the main "attractive" boy character (Lucas Friar) is into her is represented as a joke. By showing that they are out of step socially it indicates that they are somehow "lesser" than other characters; yet their less academically gifted friends are not represented as that way because they are never "helped" by the smarter characters to be more "normal."
So blonde white girls are superficial and primarily only into their friends, the arts, clothing, friendships, and boys. "Typical White Girl."
Other girls who break out of this stereotype impressed upon girls are of other ethnicities and are portrayed as socially challenged and not well rounded individuals.
These are just the issues of Disney Channel's portrayal of girls..... I should add that I do think that there needs to be at least one Disney show with a male lead.who is not blonde and relatively clueless (Austin& Ally or I Didn't Do It). Boys need good role models as well!
I've also ignored the clear stereotyping of numerous characters like Ravi (Bunk'd and Jessie) based on race, or Willow (Liv & Madi) and Lou (Bunk'd) based on their body shape. Ravi is portrayed as the nerdy Indian boy who lacks social awareness, is awkward with girls, has an over dramatized accent, and has no skills in sports. Willow and Lou are the best friend comic relief to the blonde girl lead.... First off, why aren't their main characters who are smart and blonde, or curvy and get the guy, or racially diverse and sporty? "Diversity" should not simply be hiring actors and actresses of different races and then putting them into roles that fit unjust social stereotypes. Diversity should display beauty in all different kinds of people without societal restrictions and varying interests. It's appalling that this is being fed to our youth. How are we to bridge the gap towards racial and gender equality if we are still teaching our children to accept limitations based on the way we were born?
*This article or rant was prompted by this article that I saw linked on Facebook. Check it out.