The Power of Representation in Storytelling 

 May 7, 2023

By  Benecia Ponder

Do you ever feel like your voice isn’t heard or your story never gets told? 

I’ve been writing about how the world needs your story now – and part of that is that the world needs to see YOU in stories now. Let me go deep into this with you, hopefully inspiring you to tell your story sooner rather than later.

Have you ever felt different, unique and disconnected from the crowd—not quite able to explain why? 

Whether we’re talking about race, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion or any other type of social identity, many of us can relate to this feeling. 

The world of publishing has come a long way in recent years, acknowledging the importance of representation in creating a more equitable and inclusive society. However, there is still much work to be done.

The announcement that a Black actress, Halle Bailey, will play the lead role in the upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” sparked both excitement and controversy. While many celebrated the move towards greater diversity and representation in popular media, others responded with outrage, claiming that the casting decision was a form of “reverse racism.”  The enormous backlash and racist complaints from people who felt entitled to dictate the race of a fictional character illustrates just why greater representation is needed.

What Is Representation and Why It Matters

Representation is a term that’s been gaining traction in recent years, particularly within the context of media, literature, and art. Simply put, representation means the accurate, diverse, and authentic portrayal of different identities, backgrounds, and experiences in the stories we create and consume.

But why does it matter, you ask?

Let me answer that question with a personal story…

As a college sophomore, I went through an experience that changed my life forever. What started as simple headaches culminated in me losing the majority of my eyesight due to a pseudo brain tumor that damaged my optic nerves.

Initially, I was lost and hopeless, unable to conceive of a future where my dreams would not be limited by my disability. 

Without any examples of people with disabilities in my life at that time, I struggled to find a reference point for the life I now faced.

My comfort came from books.  I began to find hope by reading books about people like Hellen Keller, who despite being blind and deaf, authored numerous books and was celebrated around the world. Her story of perseverance in the face of adversity inspired me and made me believe that it was possible to be successful in spite of my circumstances.

Years later, as I continued to struggle, I read the story of Nick Vijucic in his book “Life Without Limits.” Born with no arms and legs, he traveled the world and inspired millions with his motivational speeches and inspirational books. His story showed me that anything is possible if you believe in yourself.

These stories represent the power of representation in storytelling. These stories were not only inspiring, but they gave me hope and showed me that people like myself can achieve great things. These examples provided me with the motivation and guidance to not only graduate from law school and pass the bar exam, but they still inspire me today as I now help others share their stories.

  • Representation matters because it provides a sense of belonging and inclusivity to people who may feel marginalized or isolated. 
  • Representation matters because it gives people a voice and recognition that their voice is valuable.
  • Representation matters because it empowers those who have traditionally been excluded or marginalized.
  • Representation matters because it allows us to see ourselves in others, and to imagine new possibilities for our own lives. 
  • Representation matters because it reminds us that no matter what we’re going through, someone else out there has faced the same challenges and come out the other side.
  • Representation matters because it validates our existence, shows us that we are not alone, and demonstrates that our experiences are just as worthy to be documented and shared as anyone else’s. 
  • Representation matters because it gives all of us the power to dream bigger, to aim higher, and to create the kind of world we want to live in. 

Your Story Creates Representation

If you’ve been holding onto your story, fearful that it wouldn’t make a difference in the world…

If you’ve convinced yourself that your experiences aren’t significant because they don’t fit into the mainstream narrative…

I am here today to tell you that your story is not only significant but it is crucial, and the world needs it now!

Your story has the power to shatter stereotypes, to connect individuals from diverse backgrounds, and to change the way society sees the world. 

You have the power to inspire and shape the narrative of our world with your story. 

Your Story Shows Others They Are Not Alone 

When you share your story, you show others that they are not alone. Whether you identify as a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, or someone with a disability or mental health issue, reading books from people who share similar experiences and struggles can be a powerful and affirming experience.

Take, for example, Angie Thomas’s best-selling novel “The Hate U Give,” which tells the story of a Black teenage girl who witnesses a police shooting of an unarmed Black boy. The novel resonated with readers of all backgrounds because it brought attention to the systemic issues of racism, police brutality, and social stratification in America. Readers saw themselves and their struggles captured in the book’s pages, inspiring them to share their own stories and create space for marginalized voices.

Your Story Creates Hope

When you share your story, you give hope. Think of Kamala Harris, who made history as the first Black and South Asian American woman to be elected Vice President of the United States. Harris’s story serves as a reminder that barriers can be broken, and that representation can inspire future generations to strive for excellence in their own lives, regardless of their background or circumstance. 

Similarly, Oprah Winfrey, whose own life story includes a journey from poverty and abuse to becoming a media mogul and philanthropist, has been a beacon of hope for women and people of color everywhere.

Your Story Lights The Way For Others

When you share your story, you give others permission to do the same. Book collaborations such as the Inspirational Devotionals and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have been instrumental in encouraging everyday people to share their own experiences in writing. Through these platforms, individuals can tell their own stories and inspire others to do the same.

Whether we’re writers, readers, or just everyday people, we have the power to shape the narratives around us- and in so doing, to change the world for the better.

So let us continue to celebrate and elevate the voices and stories of those who might otherwise go unheard. Let us commit to telling our own stories with honesty and authenticity, and to always seeking out new stories and perspectives in the world around us. And let us remember that representation matters- not just in the stories we read, but in the lives we lead.

Are you ready to represent yourself and others in a published story?

I invite you to join me for the Divine Storytelling Workshop series.

In this dynamic and interactive workshop series, you’ll discover how to harness the power of storytelling to inspire, engage, and create lasting impact. Through expert guidance and practical exercises, you’ll learn to overcome common challenges, refine your storytelling skills, and develop a captivating narrative that resonates with your audience.

Click here to get the access details


Get the Free Inspirational Story Blueprint

My Inspirational Story Blueprint will help you get your story ideas organized and get started impacting lives right away! Includes key insights for keeping your stories interesting and your readers engaged!

Benecia Ponder

Hi there! I'm Benecia Ponder, the Book Writing and Publishing Mentor for Inspirational Authors. My passion is helping faith-focused entrepreneurs, ministry leaders, influencers, and creators like you turn your powerful messages into impactful and compelling books. Together, we'll maximize both your impact and income as you navigate the writing and publishing journey. I even offer free workshops to ensure you perfect your craft without spending a fortune. Ready to bring your inspiring stories to life? Let's connect and make your dream of becoming a published author a reality!

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  1. Sharing can encourage other to believe. Giving them a belief to change and hope because we all have stories. Many of our stories comes from overcoming and hardships. I think by sharing my story is beneficial because as human beings we face challenges. Like I found the courage to be strong and so can others.

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