The article,“Beauty is deep inside me”, by teenager Sisanda Ngacana (Sowetan, 02/03/09, p. 10) is one to be glad of. Written by a 17-year old girl, the article gives the opportunity for a young person herself to challenge discriminatory attitudes and act as a role model to others.
The article is an opinionated piece written by the teenager where she speaks about her experiences as an albino. The piece forms part of an initiative the National School Essays Competition on Albinism, which Sowetan is a partner in.
In writing her piece, Sisanda educates her fellow albinos about not being ashamed of who they are, as well as the wider community about not discriminating. She challenges what she sees as teenagers’ perception of beauty, as something that is on the outside, by giving her own views of beauty, as being something on the inside. The headline, “Beauty is deep inside me”, also challenges perceptions.
The fact that the piece is written by Sisanda, allows her to speak her mind and inform the reader of her feelings in her own words. Giving the 17-year old the opportunity to speak for herself not only breaks the trend in media reporting on children, but also shows respect for the child’s rights to participate and to express views and opinions on matters affecting her.
The photograph is good as it portrays Sisanda as a happy child. This contrasts with many of the other photographs of children that MMA has seen in the media, for example, of crying victims (Daya, B., Vreenegoor, B., Bird, W. & Harries, G, 2004 1).
The article tells the story of a child, like many others, who struggled with racial divide, and provides a voice for other children with similar experiences.
Sisanda is given fair representation in the article as she is portrayed as a pupil who, like any other, experiences difficulties with her appearance.
Giving children the opportunity to speak for themselves and portraying them as positive role models, breaks the trend in media reporting which Media Monitoring Africa has found. Through stories such as these, society can be reminded that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and one should not alienate someone because of the colour of their skin, or any other apparent differences.
1 Daya, B., Vreenegoor, B., Bird, W. & Harries, G. 2004. Children: Dying to Make the News: An analysis of children’s coverage in the South African news. Media Monitoring Project: Johannesburg.