Everything about Rowan Blanchard says ‘sorry, not sorry’. Since writing a heartfelt essay about intersectional feminism on her Tumblr page last summer, the 14-year-old actress has become a champion for girls everywhere, taking on the implicit exclusivity of #SquadGoals to the everyday experience of depression. What’s more, speaking to an audience of dedicated pre-teen followers who first saw her on the Disney channel’s Girl Meets World, she’s an unprecedented force for educating a younger generation on issues too often ignored by school curriculums and parents.
Invited to interview Jazz Jennings for Dazed's spring 2016 issue, budding journalist Blanchard bonded with the LGBTQ activist over their shared decision to take their personal experiences public, in the hope of inspiring others who might feel isolated. “A lot of girls will silence their beliefs and individuality because they want to be with a more popular group,” she tells Dazed in another interview for the new issue. “I think that girls can overcome that by learning to pick things that they love about themselves, and then deciding they love those things more than being accepted by other people.”
In the age of clickbait feminism, Blanchard has been made to stand with other conveniently packaged celebrities with outspoken opinions. But, as she argues powerfully, she would rather use the world-wielding tools of her generation to speak to girls her own age – and flip the male-dominated, adult-world gaze on its head. “Girls are taking things that people use to make fun of them with and reclaiming them. Like make-up, pink, selfies, iPhones – all these things that we use to undermine teenage girls and make them feel embarrassed. Girls are saying, ‘Well, if that’s what you’re going to use against me, then I’m going to use them for me.’”
Text Claire Marie Healy