So often in children’s programming we are presented with the “Beautiful Female Archetype”. She’s got the looks! She’s popular! Everyone likes her!… but we, as an audience, are persuaded to either hate her or be annoyed by her, because she is mean, spiteful, and perhaps even ditzy.
The message this sends to young girls and boys is “If she is attractive, she is a challenge.” The pretty girl can never be your friend, never love you, never be anything but a rival. We should hate people we don’t even know if we perceive them as a attractive, because they are therefore a threat to us in some way. And by association, if a woman is interested in superficial things like fashion and beauty, she must be vain.
Except that isn’t true. We’re multidimensional people! We can be interested in fashion and human rights! And math! And geography! And sales at Sephora! And just because a person likes to get dressed up does not mean they’ll look down on you for choosing to do otherwise. A real friend would love you for who you are, not what you look like.
When I first started watching My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I was totally taken aback by Rarity. Here is a female character that I can finally relate to. Rarity is the element of Generosity. She is the fuel that makes the fire burn. She genuinely wants to see her friends do well, and she’s always happy help them reach their goals. She’s blunt, clever, and nothing makes her feel sweller than helping others learn to feel good about themselves. And it’s so rare that we see such a well-rounded character in so called children’s television. I’m so, so thankful for her.