Born on October 14, 2001, in Los Angeles, California, Rowan Blanchard is an outspoken activist in various areas such as feminism and racism. Although most of her views are posted on social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, Rowan has spoken in the UN Women and US National Committee’s annual conference as part of #TeamHeForShe, a feminist campaign. Rowan is best known for her role as the bubbly Riley Matthews in Girl Meets World, a widely popular television show on Disney Channel. She has also played various roles in Disney Junior Original Series Dance-A-Lot-Robot, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, and Disney Channel Original Movie: Invisible Sister. She has been named as one of the Most Influential Teens 2015 by Time magazine, and has been nominated for various Emmy awards and Teen Choice Awards.
Rowan Blanchard has always been a role model to me. Unlike other young female celebrities, Rowan does not clutter her Instagram feed with mindless photographs posing with other similar-aged celebrities, which have become overdone on all social media platforms. Instead, she fills her feed with photographs of the scenery, positivity posts, and makeup-less selfies, whereas most female celebrities about Rowan’s age would definitely not be caught without makeup on. This conveys the message that although she may be famous and influential, she still is a teenage girl with oily skin, acne, eye bags, and so on. Rowan has always believed that no one should ever “trivialize what you’re feeling” as “you must matter most to yourself”, emphasising that “you owe it to yourself to care for your truth”. I love Rowan as she does not abuse her fame and power and instead tries to bring joy to everyone’s lives, especially those who struggle with self-directed positivity and love. Although some may say that her Instagram feed has long become irrelevant to our generation, I highly disagree. One post that I particularly love is where Rowan wrote “go and make things you’ve dreamed about” on a piece of lined paper, with the caption “managed to crawl 10 feet from my bed today to write this message to put on my wall”. This shows that Rowan is not the energetic young lady that everyone perceives her to be, but instead is possibly as lazy and sleep-deprived as the rest of us.
On Twitter, Rowan has expressed high amounts of displeasure at people telling her to “smile” in her selfies on Instagram. She said that “(I) post on (my) Instagram what (I) like” and does not want people to keep reading too deep into things, with many commenters repeatedly asking if Rowan has depression. In my opinion, depression is a serious thing and it is not okay to keep asking depressed people if they really are depressed. Depression is not something to joke about and yet when people really are depressed, other people will label them as attention-seeking and say that they are overreacting. Just because girls don’t smile in their photographs doesn’t mean that they are depressed, Rowan reiterated.
Recently, Rowan opened up about her sexuality on Twitter. “In my life – only ever liked boys,” she wrote in a tweet draft that she screenshotted. “However I personally don’t wanna label myself as straight, gay or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with – just existing.” Beforehand, Rowan has expressed major support for the queer community on Instagram and there have been speculations about her sexuality, but there was no confirmation, not until now. I feel that Rowan is very courageous to have managed to open up about her sexuality in front of a world that is not filled with queer-supporting people. Rowan expressed surprise at the amount of backlash that she received, as she was attacked by many homophobic fans and various other users of the Twitter community. However, most of the tweets she received conveyed their support and appreciation for her bravery and finally discovering and understanding herself, which I am grateful for.
Lastly, Rowan claims that she has been a feminist since she was in preschool, when other children told her that she “threw like a girl”. In her UN Women speech, Rowan highlighted that educators of both genders have discouraged young school-age girls from pursuing careers in the science and technology industries, both of which are considered “male occupations”. Honestly, there is no such thing. Not only have we labelled ourselves with genders and associated males as the more dominating gender, we have even labelled occupations with genders to prove that women are not suited for certain jobs. Just how far are we going to get with gender inequality? Not only are we dissuading potential science geniuses from furthering their education, we are even instilling gender stereotypes in young children, as young as preschool. As Rowan was told, when “like a girl” is added behind a statement, it usually refers to the fact that females are weak. Young girls are taught “practically unconsciously” by their parents and other older authoritative figures in their lives to apologize to everyone, even if you believe that they are being unfair or unreasonable in their views, and to put others’ happiness before yours. Rowan believes that you cannot “live up to anyone and anything” because you are yourself and do not need to be sorry for that. As Rowan said, “equality of the sexes is not merely an idea, but a birth-given right”.
I feel that our generation is very fortunate to have people like Rowan, who spread positivity and important messages that most modern celebrities make light of – feminism being one of them. Most modern celebrities are perfectly fine with being perceived as sexual objects by their male counterparts, yet Rowan, despite being younger than most celebrities, has taken her stand and spoken up for every prejudiced female in the world. The world needs more people like Rowan – just, unafraid, and truthful to themselves.
Chua Wei Ting (2T)