More Than An Icon

Image Source: Tom + Lorenzo

It should come as no shock that in history there have been hundreds of female heroines that have fought to give women the rights that they deserve. although they are often glossed over in history textbooks, they have shaped our perceptions of ourselves and others alike, and given power to voices silenced in the past. I believe that it is important to recognize current empowering women in today’s society, given the fact that although women have made a lot of progress, their story and part in this movement is far from over. A woman I believe to be an active fighter in this movement is Zendaya.

I don’t think many people expected a lot from Zendaya. She began her career on Disney, playing the role of Rocky Blue on Shake It Up, a TV show about two teenage girls from Chicago performing on a dance show. She was idolized by little girls everywhere when she was merely fourteen years old, an age when she didn’t truly know who she was or who she wanted to be. Being put on a pedestal like that, with so much pressure from the public, is absolutely exhausting, and can often spur an identity crisis, as the public has seen with several former Disney stars.

That being said, Zendaya never lost sight of herself throughout her career. Over the last ten years, Zendaya has grown from roles such as a quirky teenage girl worried about surface issues to a strong young woman, taking on roles involving intense addictions to drugs and confusion regarding sexual orientation and true love. She has also made major strides in the African American community, playing several roles that showcase her black heritage with pride. when the media attacked her for changing her hairstyle in 2015 because she felt it expressed her identity she looked them dead in the eye and marched forward, standing tall all the while.

I grew up watching Shake It Up. I wanted to be just like Rocky Blue: smart, kind, caring, talented, and beautiful as hell. To be able to watch the girl I aspired to be when I was a child grow up and become a striking, empowering, inspirational, independent, and strong female icon making major change in the film industry is genuinely incredible, and only makes me feel more in control of my life and the equality I must fight to have. I can’t thank Zendaya enough for all the progress she has made as an African American woman, in the film industry no less, and I sincerely cannot wait to see what she continues to do in this lifetime.