When I was a little girl, I played with dolls, and my first Barbie had blonde hair and blue eyes. I expressed my sense of style by creating clothes for the doll and styling it. Additionally, I used to create a dream board in the form of a journal that I carried with me every day to play with and immerse myself in my own imaginary dream world. The images in my book never represented me, because I cut them out of glossy magazines and pasted them into my Dream Home Playbook. Psychologically, this concept of a future self is crucial for a child’s development, providing motivation, hope, and a sense of worth, all of which children begin to develop as young as two or three.

With my niece Vale, I resemble her exactly when I was a child.

Returning to my childhood narrative, the unfortunate truth was that Barbie dolls, Disney films, superheroes, and images of models or ordinary people endorsing various brands on television or in magazines did not depict individuals like me. Even the middle pages from magazines that I used to paste in my room did not feature people of colour. If a child never encounters someone resembling them in the media or on their toys, portrayed as beautiful, smart, or talented, how are they supposed to cultivate a healthy sense of self? My contention is that most children grow up with exposure to television, modelling, glossy magazines, deriving significant confidence from these sources. It is essential for all of us to see ourselves represented in magazines, television and in the mainstream media, .

It is crucial to acknowledge that representation fosters unity in society. The absence of representation establishes an unconscious divide, leading to superiority and segregation in society. For instance, a racially charged hashtag, #NotMyAriel, trended on Twitter, when Halle Bailey made history as the first Black actress to portray Ariel in The Little Mermaid. However, parents capturing the reactions of young Black children, who were astonished and overjoyed by this new Ariel, overshadowed the hate from cyberbullying. On a positive note, Barbie has embraced this change, featuring over 200 careers and counting, continuously inspiring the limitless potential in every little girl. They celebrate heroes like Katherine Johnson, a pioneer in math and science, who broke barriers by making critical calculations for the success of sending astronauts to the moon. Disney and various other branches of media are beginning to embrace diversity.

I am incredibly proud of women of colour such as Adwoa Aboah, Yara Shahidi, and Gabby Douglas for leveraging their platforms to impact the upcoming generation of women. They are demonstrating that girls can aspire to be anything they want, inspiring limitless potential and working to bridge the Dream Gap. Congratulations to Malenga Mulendema from Zambia for creating the first African children’s animated show for both TV and the movie streaming service Netflix. Titled “Mama Kโ€™s Team 4,” the show depicts the adventures of an all-girl spy team and is produced by Triggerfish Animation Studios in South Africa. This groundbreaking production provides a unique opportunity for a new generation of African children to witness characters they can relate to, portraying powerful and aspirational role models on-screen.