On the Importance of Seeing Yourself

Monday Musings from Melinda by Melinda M.

So a funny thing just happened…I was sitting here writing this post, well not THIS post, but one for Living Hilo Style on a different topic, while my girls were watching the Oscars in the next room. I can hear Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s voice in the distance and it’s clear he’s leading up to the song from the movie Moana when my girls start getting all squealy, “Is she there? Is she THERE?!” they shriek at each other and the tv. Who are they talking about?

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Hilo girls dreaming the princess dream.

“Mom, come here! I think she’s there! I think she’s there!”

Who? I wonder. I know there’s no one we know that would be at the Oscars!

Then Lin-Manuel Miranda takes the stage and starts singing an intro. The girls deflate. Aw, she’s not there. No wait, she’s there! Ohmygodohmygod she’s THERE! They start screaming.

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Aulii Cravalho, local girl at the Oscars.  (pc:  Kevin Winter)

Lo and behold, it’s Aulii Cravalho they are screaming about. Aulii (who is the voice of Moana if you don’t already know) is a 16-year-old girl from Oahu (and born in Kohala on the Big Island) but they are screaming about her as though she’s their friend or family. They even grabbed their phones to Snapchat her appearance on the Oscars that probably most of their followers were already watching.

But that’s what it feels like when you’re from Hawaii – everyone feels like family.

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Hilo ladies who are real princesses to me.

They were so so happy for her, for Hawaii, for themselves as girls who are also from Hawaii. She feels like someone they feel like they already know. And that’s when I see it: the importance of seeing yourself – on the screen, in books, in positive news, in sport and in other places where role models are to be found. The sense of pride and of connection was palpable, even if in just a moment.

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Future Disney princesses.

But I hope for them that there are many more moments like that – when they see themselves in something they might have otherwise thought impossible and even better that they provide that moment for others who follow.

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