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Is the image of black women in the media changing for the better or worse in 2016? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Vanessa De Luca, Editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine, on Quora:

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a significant shift in terms of inclusion; there are arguably more Black women featured in the media–on TV in particular–than ever before. The challenge is that the images are not necessarily balanced, or diverse in character.

Two years ago ESSENCE commissioned a study on images of Black women in media where we asked 3,000 women, including White and Latina women, to tell us about the images they see of Black women on the big and small screen and online, and how these images impact them.

What emerged is that the media does a poor to horrible job of representing Black women in balanced ways. We see more negative typologies (Angry Black Woman; Uneducated Black Woman; Jezebels; Baby Mamas; etc.) than positive.

Our respondents told us that they would like to see more balance that skews to the positive: more typologies like Modern Matriarchs such as Michelle Obama; Young Phenoms like Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles; Acculturated Girl Next Door types like Solange. In sum, we want to see images that present the fullness of who we are.

Thankfully there are a number of Black women in media–Shonda Rhimes, Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington, Mara Brock Akil, Issa Rae, and Viola Davis, just to name a few–who have taken it upon themselves to present broader, more complex, and more multidimensional images of Black women in media. It is their influence that has begun to tip the scales such that we are seeing more variety than ever before. But there is still so much more work to be done. We need more people of color in decision-making positions to greenlight projects that offer the balance our respondents told us they are seeking.

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