Which narratives have space for you?
Being a child of the 80s, I was a huge She-Ra fan and had many of the toys as well as the He-Man crossover episode on video! As I grew up and started to understand my own identity, I also became more aware of the lack of inclusivity and limited representations that I would see in the media. So, imagine my delight when I came across the She-Ra reboot while procrastinating a couple of weeks ago and finding representations of LGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent characters. I enthusiastically described it to a friend as being like revisiting an idealised version of my childhood where who I was, was ok.
It reminded me of how important it can be to have those positive representations of all aspects of our identities. I can clearly remember searching for books, films and TV shows that had characters that I could relate to (in the days before the internet) as I tried to understand who I was and where I ‘fitted’ in society. When I grew up, easily accessible positive representations were scarce and when they did happen, they were often accompanied by moral outrage in the press. The narratives of my childhood did not have a place for me.
Sometimes when we cannot find a place that fits us, we end up squeezing ourselves into spaces that are the wrong shape in an attempt to ‘fit in’ and to keep ourselves safe despite the discomfort it causes. If we do it for long enough, we can even begin to believe that this is how it is supposed to feel. One of the common reasons for coming to therapy is to move away from discomfort, to find more peace. One of the ways we work on this is to figure out where the discomfort is coming from so, we know what might need to change. By working with self-acceptance and self-compassion, we often come to realise that the discomfort comes from not feeling able to be who we truly are, from forcing ourselves into the shape of someone else’s narrative.
As I am climbing out of the neurotypical space I had squeezed into for most of my life, I find myself once again looking for the alternative narratives, the ones that have spaces for people like me, the ones where who I am is ok. I think 7 year old me would love to know that one of those narratives is the new She-Ra.
I’d love to know where you found the narratives that have space for who you are.