Week 11 Secondary Post: Diverse Representation 

Mattel, the maker of the iconic plastic doll, said it will begin selling Barbie’s in three new body types — curvy, tall, and petite. She’ll also be available in seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles.

Joseph Pisani

It’s about time. 

Positive and diverse representation of people, especially women, should have happened ages ago. 

The same doll with the same features doesn’t do justice to the infinite differences among human beings. We don’t all look the same, do we? 

Instead of judging others for their appearance, we should accept that people look different. 

What’s more, the media tends to portray women in an unrealistic manner. Because of that, standards for women have been set increasingly high. Society pigeonholes girls by labelling them and regarding members of this sex through binaries. 

You’re kind. Or rude. You’re beautiful. Or unattractive. You’re successful. Or failing. 

And what’s with the limited portrayal of minority women in movies, TV shows, etc? 

American productions have been notorious for casting “thin” Cacuasian females with “good looks”. But that doesn’t mean Canadian companies are doing any better. 

Even though hair styles are easy to change, aspects such as skin colour aren’t. 

I hope these new dolls is a start in addressing issues with gender stereotyping and representation. 

Week 6 Main Post: Lack of Diversity in the Media  

David Baldacci. James Dashner. James Frey. Stephen King. James Patterson. Christopher Pike. Rick Yancey.

What do they have in common aside from being authors I’ve read in recent months? They’re all white men.

The only Asian female author I’ve read is Jenny Han. Despite that her book, The Summer I Turned Pretty, revolves around a Caucasian teenager. If my memory serves me correctly, there’s not a single character who isn’t Caucasian in that story.

Safe to say I’ve never encountered an Asian character written by an Asian author.

I do appreciate writers who try to include diversity in their stories. But often times people of colour are portrayed inaccurately. As a result they are in inferior roles while perpetuating negative stereotypes.

Try naming a book, movie, or TV show that features a Chinese female as the main character who was created by an Asian woman.

Does that sound like a feat? Well, it shouldn’t be.

I’ve also come to realize that there’s a fundamental problem with the way events are reported and the way stories are told.

Listening to one side of the story is one thing. But only hearing one side from one person is something else entirely.

We aren’t the same. We’re vastly different from one another. And because of our differences in race, socioeconomic status, etc., it’s important for everyone’s voices to be heard. All voices. Not just the typical voice we’re used to hearing. Not just the voice society has deemed to be the “majority”.

Individuals of other ethnicities tend to be pushed to the background. It sometimes feels as though their struggles aren’t as significant. But their stories are just as important, if not more so.

Fortunately Toronto is a very multicultural city. While Toronto isn’t terrible in respect to its diversity of individuals in the media, that isn’t to say the city doesn’t have room for improvement. Over these past few years, I have noticed the publishing industry and blogging community isn’t as diverse as I initially thought.

Society needs to stop discriminating against people of colour, people perceived to be part of a minority. If not we’ll continue to perpetuate these stereotypes and sustain all sorts of stigma, which ultimately leads to more discrimination and less diversity.

Week 2 Secondary Post: Bell Let’s Talk

I like the idea behind Bell Let’s Talk and everything that the day stands for. I completely support ending the stigma surrounding mental health. And I have to commend Bell for all they’ve done, all they are currently doing, and all the company will do in the future.

What I don’t like is that it’s easy to forget about mental health every other day of the year, especially if you aren’t directly affected by it. It’s easy to perpetuate the stereotypes, to prolong the stigma.

That’s because it’s not as easy to be aware, to be understanding, and to be helpful.

I think people need to pay more attention to their word choice. Words have power. More power than we think.

What bothers me is despite all the time I’ve spent in school, I don’t feel like I was properly educated about mental health. I don’t know the facts. I don’t know the statistics. I don’t know the numbers. But I know it’s real, I know it exists. Most importantly, I know a lot more can be done to help those suffering from mental illness.

This isn’t anyone’s fault.

But this is something everyone needs to help solve.

While the initiative is not new, it hasn’t been around for that long either. Today marks the sixth Bell Let’s Talk. It happens one day a year, which begs the question, what about the other three hundred and sixty-four days? Or since 2016 is a leap year, what about the other three hundred and sixty-five days?

Fortunately, for every tweet with #BellLetsTalk, for every text or call made by a Bell customer, the company donates 5 cents in support of mental health initiatives. Unfortunately, the donations stop after twenty four hours. And while I realize that they can’t possibly donate 5 cents for every tweet, text, etc., all year round, I hope we—as a society—are willing to do our part in raising awareness and generating change every second of every day.

I love that Bell Let’s Talk starts the conversation. All I ask is that we continue the conversation long after today is over.

Week 2 Main Post: Homelessness Myths and Misconceptions

Despite homelessness being on the rise, education and awareness about the issue isn’t.

Since we cannot solve a problem we don’t understand, it’s a good idea to define what being homeless actually means.

Having no home…shelter, or place of refuge owing to poverty or destitution; living on the streets.

Oxford English Dictionary

Unfortunately, there are more than just two reasons for an individual to find themselves without a home.

It’s hard to implement solutions when there’s so much stigma surrounding homeless people. Therefore, busting myths and misconceptions surrounding the issue is the first step in reducing and hopefully, ending it for good.

People choose to be homeless.

Most of the men, women, and children on the streets do not choose to be homeless. Many don’t have a choice. Reasons such as unemployment, domestic violence, along with (mental, emotional, and physical) health problems are some prevalent causes. Nobody wants to lose their job unexpectedly. No one decides they want to suffer from depression. Similarly, many individuals do not choose to be without shelter every day.

Other people will help the homeless so I don’t have to.

That’s exactly what Jack Layton, former city councillor of Toronto, thought while walking home one day with his wife. He “assumed, somehow, that others would step in” while writing on the death of a homeless man. In his book Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis, Layton describes the issue in more depth. The Globe and Mail also provided a book excerpt on their website, in which he tells his story of one particular January night in Toronto. During the walk home, Jack Layton doesn’t call for help or directly assist a homeless person who’s in need. He thinks someone else will do something for the people on the streets in the dead of winter. To be fair, he expresses earlier that he had no idea who to contact and how to reach legitimate help. If everyone thought someone else will lend a hand, no one ends up offering any assistance.

All homeless people are criminals.

Interestingly enough, some homeless people are victims of crimes. Since they live on the streets rather than in a shelter, they are at a greater risk.

In “Death on the streets of Canada“, the writer argues that:

…shelter is also a human right.

Cathy Crowe, Rabble