I can’t tell you the specific moment in my life, when I realized my body (currently a size 3X) was absent from marketing campaigns.
It has felt like a culmination of omission, to scroll Instagram, to watch commercials, to flip through magazines and only ever seeing one body type. It is something I note whenever I follow a new Instagram page or scroll through a website, how much diversity is present and if it is lacking (as is most of the case) I find myself at a loss as to why.
Where are the bodies that look like mine, I will quietly wonder.
I see beautiful plus size bodies everywhere I look, and yet when it comes to so many businesses or brands unless they exclusively cater to plus size folks, fatness remains unseen. Why is there such a discrepancy with the people I see in my community, and who I see splashed on 10 ft tall on billboards?
Representation can feel like such a small consideration as a business or brand, but to me it is an invitation – it is a business saying we view all bodies as aspirational and as potential clients, who are valued here.
I would argue when it comes to stock photography the lack of body inclusive speaks volumes. If I do not see myself in your marketing, why would I see myself in your store or as a client; it’s clear you don’t see me that way either.
I hear from plus size folks all the time about how isolating that lack of representation is and how much it matters to us when we do in fact see ourselves reflected in marketing. My life often feels like a juxtaposition; existing in a large body means even though physically I take up more space, I often feel invisible. But (obviously) I am not.
I am the fat woman working long hours from home in a cute floral jumpsuit.
I am the fat woman who loves to put together an outfit that stands out, to look polished.
I am the fat woman who lounges in bed, coffee in hand.
And I am not unique.
The US average size was increased this year to a size 16-18, so plus size folks are now the majority. Our bodies and the lives we lead are everywhere.
We are beautiful, aspirational humans that deserve to be seen and celebrated, like every other body, and yes, that includes beautifully curated stock imagery. That includes in your marketing and online presence.
The fact that plus size bodies are the statistical norm only further highlights how deeply ingrained fatphobia is in our world when we look at the disparity of representation and reality. There is simply no other reason for the single heavily overrepresented norm.
This inequality is exemplified in every marginalized and oppressed group, whether that’s fat people, LGBTQIA+ folks (especially gender-non-binary folks), Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour, or disabled people.
It’s the 21st Century, surely it’s time to start ensuring marketing reflects the diverse world around us without apology, for all it’s glory.
I know that as a brand with so many other demands, especially now, this reflection on who is visually included in your brand, and what that tells your audience about who you want in your brand gives you a moment of pause.
Take five minutes and quickly audit your marketing:
Do you see the level of diversity you want reflected there?
And if not, what are you doing to change it?
Implied is simply not enough when it comes to calling people in, we need to see you thinking about us as your clients & customers too.
Finally, I hope when you flip through these images you think about the impact choosing diverse photography has on our culture, and how the more diversity we get to see, the more of an inclusive world we can carve out together.
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