Diversify Media With Women of Color: Representation Matters

Diversify Media. Women of color need more representation.

My illustrations in college were once called “distracting” because they had dark skin! The fashion industry must share this thought process. Across the board, they have failed to accommodate women of color. Can you name five black models from the last 10 years? In the plus size community, most models look exactly the same. Either “racially ambiguous” or Caucasian. I have yet to see an Asian or Indian plus size model. The only websites I’ve seen with models with chocolate skin tones are Lane Bryant, Ashley Stewart, Fashion to Figure, and Eloquii. Torrid used to work with Philomena Kwao, but even she’s missing from the website. I will give Torrid credit for having various shades of brown for their nude undergarments, though.

Here’s why companies should diversify:

It’s not good enough to only have one racially ambiguous woman in the ads.While they are beautiful, they don\’t represent all women. Dark skinned African and African Americans, Asians, Indians, and Latinas deserve to be represented in a consistent and meaningful way. Asian models only being used when the collection is inspired by Tokyo is not diversity. It’s fetishizing an ethnicity to fit your needs. If your campaign does not resemble a United Colors of Benetton ad, you have failed at marketing to people of color. The majority of consumers in the United States are Caucasian, but that should not permit companies to ignore other races.

How should they diversify?

The solution is to diversify corporate offices, more specifically, the marketing teams. If everyone looks the same in the office, the ads are going to reflect that. Make it a priority to diversify ads overall, not just ones placed in urban communities. Learn how to market to people of color. Not only will this improve the bottom line of the company, but it will also create more opportunities for women of color. I also hope all companies don’t use the same model of color to fulfill this need. There is room for more than one of us in the media. Maybe one day, dark skin won’t be seen as a “distraction” as a result.     

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