Why does inclusive design and diverse media representation matter?

The other day while scrolling on Tumblr, I stumbled upon a post in which the user wrote,

"I was watching Iron Man 3 with my 10 year old brother who has a severe anxiety disorder, and when Tony was having his anxiety attack my brother looks at me and goes 'I’m just like Iron Man!' and I’ve never seen him so happy."

These words stuck with me, tumbling within my brain like laundry on the wash cycle. Diverse representation in media matters--they have had a longer reach than we as a society can truly appreciate. They tell ten year old little boys struggling with a very present but often invisible disorder that even superheroes struggle with mental illnesses. They tell little girls who grow up in a world still ruled by patriarchy of their limitless potential as strong women. They tell us that it is okay to love and we deserved to be loved irregardless of our physical appearances, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

But the path to true diverse representation is not a linear one; it is jagged with rises and falls. For every Black Panther we praise, there is Motoko Kusanagi played by a Scarlett Johansson. For every Moana, there will be a Tiny Fey with a poor and distasteful Respectful Asian Portrayal in Entertainment (RAPE) joke. For every commitment to diversity big companies make, there is a new article with the headline that "diversity in tech has only gotten worse." For every Fenty Beauty foundation release, there is another Tarte Shape Tape foundation controversy. Even though we have recognized the importance of diversity and we are still struggling with how to truly be inclusive of all people.


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