By CAROL LI
In today’s society, anyone can be anything.
Take a look at the modeling industry, for example. A trend has been growing for modeling companies to be inclusive and feature models outside of society’s “box of perfection.” And while society is quick to praise these attempts for inclusion, is this really true diversity?
True inclusion does not seem to be depicted, as having one “different” model does not accurately represent diversity. Inclusion is like a salad with a variety of vegetables and toppings. As of now, the fashion industry can be compared to a simple salad with the majority made of lettuce and a few out of place spinach leaves.
Currently, diverse representative models of a company are more object than human. By putting such a few number of non-white models in marketing campaigns, businesses are implying that these employees are defined by their race, not their individuality.
Although this is a huge improvement from decades ago, when there was less of an emphasis on individuality, one needs to realize that the marketing industry today is still far away from representing everyone, due to the negative connotation companies imply and its effect on society.
At the start of 2018, clothing company H&M faced huge backlash for featuring an African American child with a sweatshirt saying “coolest monkey in the jungle”. In a similar situation, Dove released an ad of a smiling African American turning into a white woman on October 2017. Another soap company in Germany named “Nivea” began a marketing campaign with the motto “White is Purity”.
These examples indicate that diversity is not being accurately represented in society. In essence, all these cases are indicators of a good idea gone horribly wrong; because of the misuse of racial diversity, companies have unknowingly repressed the fight for equality.
The racist connotations that marketing companies promote are simply stereotypes, but the ideals do not just affect marketing companies but also other institutions such as hospitals. For example, in August 2017, a doctor expressed on social media that several patients each year would refuse her service due to her race. The post went viral, and many in the medical community soon expressed that they have been in a similar situation before.
One’s race is simply not a correct judgement of skill, and patients should not be refusing service just because of that factor. While some may think that promoting an obscured view of inclusivity for the sake of diversity is harmless, a little goes a long way, and companies should think about the consequences before they recklessly plaster anything to receive attention.
However, there have been some signs that show that society as a whole is becoming less ignorant about this issue. To illustrate, “Aerie,” a woman clothing company featured 57 women of different backgrounds, ages and body shapes in one of their new campaigns. In addition, in this week’s New York Fashion Week, swimwear company “Chromat” prints the words “sample size” on their shirts to convey a message that designers use the phrase as an excuse to limit the diversity and body types pictured on a runway. In addition, the company has widened their range of sizes to “celebrate all different size bodies on the runway,” which shows that companies are slowly but surely coming to the realization that including a small range of sizes is not enough.
To improve, businesses should look at diversity with a better purpose other than simply a marketing factor. To truly depict diversity in the fashion industry, companies need to showcase the whole salad, with many different body sizes, races and religions. After all, consuming a variety of veggies is “heart healthy.”
As a result, the public should be cautious in the way people receive these marketing campaigns. Instead of gullibly swallowing every commercial that pops up on our screens or billboards, one should recognize that sometimes the whole reality is not depicted in picture perfect advertisements.