8 Ways Rowan Blanchard is Changing the Face of What It Means to Be a Disney Star

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Disney stars are just like us — they’re real people… except they’ve got really, really cool jobs. Still, when you’re thinking about your average Disney talent, you’re probably not picturing your junior high BFF. You’re imagining the Jonas Brothers‘ perfect hair and Ashley Tisdale‘s outrageously awesome outfits.

Being such a big star is an even bigger responsibility, so it’s not often that we see a young Disney kid rustling feathers while they’re still in the House of Mouse. Rowan Blanchard is the exception to the rule. The 14-year-old Girl Meets World actress is paving the way for a new kind of Disney star by using her massive platform to speak out for those who are marginalized and underprivileged, as well as spread awareness about a number of important issues.

Here are eight ways Rowan Blanchard is changing what it means to be a Disney star:

1. She’s trying to smash the patriarchy. Rowan may be young, but she’s not unaware. The young woman is an outspoken feminist who uses her fame to spread awareness of inequality among genders. In January, Blanchard penned a powerful and heartfelt essay in Rookie that detailed how she broke free from the internalized misogyny that lead her to constantly apologize for speaking her mind and taking up space.

“It has felt safer and less terrifying to silence myself to a degree than to actually engage with people, and make them take responsibility for their own actions,” She wrote. “I have treated, specifically, male feelings and ego as superior to and more fragile than my own. This practice dates back to elementary school, where it was first embedded in me and my female classmates, that our feelings, bodies, and minds would be used as weapons against us — mostly, but not exclusively — by our male peers.”

2. She tackled racism and transphobia in one fell swoop. In August, when a fan on Tumblr asked RB about if she thinks feminism often excludes women who aren’t white and cis-gendered, she let them know what was up. In a series of Instagram posts, she powerfully explained how important it is that feminism includes every single woman and not just the ones coming from a place of privilege:

3. She stands up for those with mental illness (and also does as she pleases without apology). In November, Row posted a gorgeous, fierce-faced selfie on Instagram:

Apparently, her lack of a smile sparked some concern among users who began asking if she was depressed. Rowan was having none of that and quickly took to Twitter to let people know that mental illness isn’t to be taken lightly (and she doesn’t have to smile if she doesn’t feel like it):

4. She calls out fellow Disney stars when they’re out of line. Rowan doesn’t fear the Mouse and doesn’t feel the need to be popular among her peers. If one of her fellow Disney stars is out of line, you better bet Rowan is calling them out.

In a now-deleted tweet, Dog with a Blog‘s Blake Michael urged girls to take off their makeup because he thought they looked like clowns. “TOO MUCH makeup… These girls looking like clowns…stop the madness Makeup company corporates are swimming in $55b. Plz go natural …” he wrote.

Rowan fired back, rightly saying that his tweet was inappropriate and women’s faces are none of his business:

This also caused Amanda Steele, the gorgeous beauty vlogger, to throw in her two-cents:

Feminists-2 | Blake-0

5. She wasn’t afraid to publicly come out as queer. Disney execs must have been clutching their pearls when Rowan opened up about her sexuality — a seemingly forbidden topic among Disney stars (until after they leave the network). Rowan publicly announced that she identifies as queer, stating that she’s definitely open to dating women if she ever finds one she feels that special way about:

6. She knows how important it is for all types of teens to be represented on her show, Girl Meets World. After the series tackled the often-overlooked subject of Autism, she expressed hopes that the show would add a bisexual character to increase LGBTQ visibility:

7. She’s not afraid to talk about sex. Or her period. Rowan doesn’t mind if people view her opinions as controversial or if she graces over taboo topics. The star has publicly voiced her support for Planned Parenthood numerous times, most notably by tweeting an informational pro-choice YouTube video (featuring everyone’s favorite science guy, Bill Nye).

She also had a Q&A with Planned Parenthood’s founder, Cecile Richards, and showed no fear when sharing her ideals about sexual health, masculinity and access to birth control.

“It does feel like when we talk about sexual health in girls, especially girls that are teens, that are still figuring out their bodies and all of these new things, it’s so shameful. People seriously shame them for it. Girls are getting their first periods, and immediately it’s an embarrassing thing that you just want to hide, rather than being a normal thing that you talk about,” she said, acknowledging that she hopes her outspokenness will help dispel other girls’ insecurity.

Bold move for a Disney star. You go, girl!

8. She’s made it her mission to help teens by just being herself. Perhaps the most admirable thing about Rowan is that she doesn’t use her fame haphazardly. She knows how important having a big platform is, and she’s made it her mission to use it for the better. Rather than just posting pictures of her drool-worthy style (which by the way, is definitely beyond Insta-worthy), she prefers helping teens gain knowledge and self-acceptance by covering difficult (and sometimes awkward) topics.

“I’m not afraid to tackle things, because I feel like I’ve read the news my whole life, and at one point it’s like, ‘I don’t really want this to be happening,'” she said, adding that “the new wave of women on social media who are allowing themselves to just be themselves is opening doors for a lot of young girls who wouldn’t otherwise have that kind of affirmation to be allowed to be themselves, which is cool.”

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