Rowan Blanchard Is Starting A Teen Feminist Revolution
Rowan Blanchard is your average teen girl. She loves scrolling through Tumblr, listens to dope music, cites Rihanna and Audrey Hepburn as fashion icons, fights for important social causes and drops feminist truth bombs on Twitter to her 264,000+ followers on the daily. OK, so maybe her follower count isn't quite that average.
The "Girl Meets World" star made hearts swoon when her amazing Instagram essay on intersectional feminism went viral in August. She expertly addressed the complicated issue with grace and empathy -- and the world took notice. But the 13-year-old star isn't sweating her newfound role model status.
"You don't choose to become a role model. It's just something that happens to you," Blanchard told MTV News while promoting her upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie, "Invisible Sister."
For Blanchard, an interview with her role model, Emma Watson, instantly came to mind: "Tavi Gevinson was interviewing her, and she asked her if she embraced the title of a role model -- and I'm paraphrasing what [Emma] says -- but she said, 'Moms will come up to me and thank me for not stumbling out of clubs drunk, but in reality, it's just because I don't want to.'"
"At the end of the day, you're still doing it for yourself," Blanchard added. "I wrote that essay on intersectional feminism for myself, and it's really nice that other people were reading it and sharing it."
Blanchard is just one of the awesome teen ladies -- we're looking at you, Amandla Stenberg -- who constantly impress us with their intelligence and insightfulness whenever an important social issue comes up. She may *~only be 13~* but honestly, age is not an indicator of education.
"Personally, I think what I wrote stands out at any age," Blanchard said. "I don't think it gets more credit because of my age or less credit because of my age, and I don't think there's an age limit for education. I learned about feminism a year ago, and I've become passionate about it within this year. It was nice that people were acknowledging, like, 'Oh, it's good that she wrote this at 13,' but at the end of the day, I think it's good when anyone has this conversation, whether they're 10 or 45."
The media's depiction of teen girls is problematic, to say the least. Oftentimes, teen girls are either used to feed the narrative of the male protagonist (gross) or portrayed as vapid and boy-crazy (even grosser). Blanchard, however, is here to change that narrative. Armed with her hit Disney Channel show and an impressive social media following, the teen star wants to show the world that teen girls are so much more than the media portrays them to be.
"Look at the way that we're portrayed in a lot of kids' TV! That's why I'm very proud of my show because on so many shows, they portray teens, but especially teen girls, as these idiots," she said. "It's all about boys. 'I love boys, and I hate all of my best friends. They're all so mean.'"
She added: "Why would you want those kinds of girls to be representing us on television when I can name you 200,000 of my Twitter followers who are well-grounded, brave and strong girls?"
Amen, sister! Blanchard's feminist views have even impacted the writing on "Girl Meets World." The show, which started as pure nostalgia fuel for '90s kids, has continued to tackle important subjects -- from cultural appropriation, Asperger's, bullying and now, feminism.
"We're doing an episode about feminism, and it's called 'Girl Meets Sludge,'" Blanchard said. "The statistics of young girls in math and science is much lower than boys, so we did an episode about that, about the gender bias against girls in science. It's great that we can use our platform to talk about these issues because they're important and they're affecting young people."
Blanchard is also pushing for more representation at John Quincy Adams Middle School next season.
"We want as many kids represented on our show as possible, so I've talked to the writers about having a gay or lesbian character for next season because I really would love that," she said. "I also really want an episode about racism because that's a huge issue, and I just want our show to cover as many topics as we can because of the position that we're in. I think it's important."
It's important, and it's groundbreaking. Disney Channel stars now are not the stars of yore. Now, they're on social media, sharing their thoughts, ideas and passions with their fans. They're addressing larger, more important story lines -- for example, "Liv & Maddie" will air a very special Ask Her More episode with Kristen Bell this fall. There's a sisterhood forming in the House of Mouse, and Blanchard is leading the charge.
"There's a group of us -- me, Zendaya and few other people -- who have really embraced the fact that we're just trying to get our message across, and we're not allowing ourselves to be put in a box because we're on the Disney Channel," she said. "I think it's really nice because a lot of times Disney can get branded as generic, but we're breaking down these barriers of what it means to be on Disney."
As for her next project, the teen starlet and her best friend are currently working on building a community of teen voices, where all teens feel represented and included.
"My friend and I are trying to start and annual magazine-type thing that is by teens, for teens," Blanchard said. "All of my friends are so intelligent, but you would never know that because of the way the media portrays teens. They have so many views on everything -- from feminism to police brutality to Islamophobia. Just tons of things that are getting written about by people who are my age that aren't getting recognized because of their age."
"So we want to start with some kind of magazine that celebrates all women and all teenagers -- gay, straight, trans -- and make it by teens," she added. "We want all of that celebrated."
That may sound like a huge undertaking for anyone, let alone a 13-year-old, but if there's anyone who's equipped to start a teen feminist revolution, it's Blanchard. She's got a bright future ahead of her.
"I want to act, I want to write, I want to direct, I want to become a human rights lawyer, too," she said, excitedly. "So I'll do them all at the same time!"