what's extreme is people like you not realizing that sometimes diversity can go too far. When characters are made black or disabled or gay for no reason it hurts the story and it hurts the cause of the people who are supposedly being represented.
I like how you sent me an ask claiming that no one says a thing except people rhetorically making fun of the position that no one actually holds, and then you send me an ask clarifying that you hold exactly the same position.
I’m kind tempted to just not address anything else you said and just marvel in the perfection of that.
What’s the reason for making a character white? What’s the reason for making a character straight? What’s the reason for making a character abled or neurotypical or cis?
When you assume that making a character Other relative to yourself weakens the narrative, you’re revealing a terrible thing about yourself: that you can’t imagine that those people have backstories and inner lives the way that you do.
Every single person in a fictional narrative is ultimately there because a writer decided they needed to be there, but when the person looks like you and matches your expectations, you accept that this person who was made up for the plot had a life full of events that led them to the point where they’re appearing on the screen or page.
But when your expectations aren’t met, you start saying it’s forced. You can’t accept that events led them here because you don’t grant them the kind of life that you know you have. Your empathy does not extend to them.
Look at how many white people think they can relate to a little girl in an industrial orphanage who falls in with a capitalist robber baron during the Great Depression more than they can relate to a little girl in the foster system in modern New York who falls in with a career politician, all because of a difference of race. The original Annie’s situation and world were only slightly less alien to us than the Victorian period, but making her white somehow makes her relatable in a way that a little girl who clearly exists in our world isn’t.
The fact is, empathy is linked to imagination and we can (and do!) relate to people who are literally alien beings in literally alien worlds. The choice not to relate to Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie—or a Black or gay or female or trans video game character—is a choice to shut off both imagination and empathy.
The failing is not with the narrative, it’s with you.
Just last week, a 7th grader with a curvy build came home upset about this. She had worn an outfit with a skirt and leggings, and in the morning, a teacher had said to her, “Cute outfit.” But then her homeroom teacher pulled her aside at the end of the day and said, “You know, another girl could get away with that outfit, but you should not be wearing that. I’m going to dress code you.” Juliet Bond and the child’s mom were discussing the incident, not certain if the message to the child was ‘you’re too sexy’ or ‘you’re too fat.’
The kids also report that the teachers have been discussing ‘appropriate body types for leggings and yoga pants and inappropriate body types for yoga pants and leggings.’
Bond says, “This is concerning because it is both slut shaming and fat shaming. If a girl is heavy or developed, the message is that she cannot wear certain clothes.” Neither is acceptable. We should not be sexualizing kids, nor should we be making them feel that they can wear leggings as long as they remain stick thin. Bond asks, “Why are the girls being pulled out of class to have assemblies on whether they are wearing the right clothes, while the boys remain in class, learning and studying?”
I don’t have a problem with a school having a dress code; in fact, I attended a school that didn’t allow jeans or shorts or shirts without collars, but I do have a problem when the dress code is discriminately based on gender and body type. There is a big difference between telling all students to dress respectfully and telling curvy girls to dress in a way that doesn’t distract boys.