I love to read…a lot… specifically subject matters that concern social and political affairs. I believe that in order to develop and progress in life one must educate oneself. I have a keen interest in the arts, expressionism, humanitarianism, feminism and sex positivity, to name a few, I am always looking out for articles or discussion on subject matters that may be considered taboo or controversial. It is, for me, interesting to listen to comments, even the ones that I may disagree with, as it helps form an articulate understanding of how people experience these issues in the present time.
These are some of my own observations, that I consistently come across within the lingerie industry and no doubt may also reflect the fashion and beauty industry as well.
What is equality? The dictionary definition is the state of being equal in status, rights and opportunities. There are many branches of equality such as political, social, economic, racial, gender and the list goes on. This means that everyone should not be treated the same, that their needs and issues are understood and that we ensure that individuals are treated in a way that achieve the same outcome. For example, you are at work providing input for a project with other team members. The team members involved may not have the same abilities but in order to reach the final goal, you may segregate parts and provide the tools to assist each individual allocated to them which subsequently provides the final outcome once each part is brought together. This is one way how individuals can be treated fairly in the work/life atmosphere.
What is inclusivity? The dictionary definition is the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups. It is the ability to welcome comments, ideas and suggestions in an open manner to improve trust and respect between one another and not to be afraid to learn from others. To remove bias and have an open mind in order to have the ability to self-reflect and to know oneself – which is a life-long process. Next time you read comments on facebook where people exhibit opposition stop and think to yourself which comments are hurtful, bias, judgemental or are the most negative and how one can help that person turn a negative into a positive. I read comments where individuals argue over the slightest thing and wonder what irked this stream of expression and did that individual think before commenting and what can be said in order to articulate the conversation into an open discussion that can be met with empathy. That said, haters will always hate and in some circumstances safety must come first, so choose the battles wisely.
Whilst equality and inclusivity have their differences, the fundamental objectives are to achieve an outcome that is considered fair and respectful towards individuals. If we look back in time we can see that the 20th century has provided several examples of reform in the legal system to enhance social justice. Following on from two world wars we have also seen the development of Human and Civil Rights within Europe. We have achieved Universal Suffrage; the right for women to vote, the right to a fair trial, the right to an education. We have seen the implementation of same sex marriages and protections from discrimination on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, religion, disability and the list goes on.
You may be asking – what has this got to do with lingerie, fashion and beauty? Once upon a time, our magazines were filled with images of what was personified as perfection. The catwalks were a ground for only those concerning a particular height and/or measurements and there was a popularity of individuals pertaining to a specified preference based on a brands exclusive personality or the elite. Eventually, avenues of social media began to change and the voice of the public infiltrated into the industry becoming clear that we are more accepting of diversity.
We are more aware of our realities, we are more aware that our bodies are different, we are more aware that our looks are different and we are more aware that our personalities our different. Everyone has their own unique identity and people wish to have representation whether it is through fashion, beauty, justice, employment or other social interaction. We are living in a vocal era and everyone wants to be heard, understood and represented.
Progression is reflected in the positive in the following examples; the production of a range of make-up to meet the needs of all tones, some lingerie brands where the concept of nude is defined as having a colour that matches the wearer’s skin tone, the need for the transgender community to be accommodated with a selection of lingerie suited to their needs, brands have made functional clothing to assist those with disabilities and finally people with disabilities are now represented on the catwalks along with the body positivity movement.
Whilst the body positivity movement has provided inclusion of individuals from all walks of life, even age discrimination within the fashion industry has come to our attention, thanks to older models who have spoken out for the need for inclusivity. From the creativity of social media influencers to professional models, we are no longer limited to ‘one size fits all’. We all have our own concepts of decency and tolerance of what is acceptable, we must become a society where we live and let live and should fight against body shaming or sex shaming. Stretch marks are now seen as a normal part of the body as with cellulite, scars, body hair and any other natural part of our bodies. Instead of hiding what once may have been thought of as deformities or embarrassing, we are now emphasising these insecurities to slowly bring forth our own realities and to be accepted as we are.
However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, this does not exclude supermodels or the naturally thin. Whilst there has been severe backlash towards the modelling industry for the misrepresentation of women and other genders, that is not to say that those who are a certain height or size should no longer be represented and I see this attitude often from others and even myself through my own experience of growing up with this limited image of how a woman should look. My personal experience from a young age was that if you were not tall, thin and beautiful, you were not worthy of being a woman or even desired. I use to find myself making judgements upon others as a defence for my own excluded body image. I realised over time that my judgement was not hate for those who were glorified but a disagreement that one particular image was not the only personification of beauty. Having developed an open mind and through reflecting on my own experiences and now with the aid of diversity, I am able to accept that we are different and with self-love we can all find beauty within ourselves. Beauty is no longer defined by external sources and has become an inward process of self-acceptance, confidence and to love one self.
The journey does not end here, whilst equality has been strongly advocated by the legal system through various civil rights and activists, we also see that inclusivity plays roles in employment too. Inclusivity is not only about the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized in a sense from our own belief system or what appears to be the ‘’trend’’ of the season, but also of responsibility to ourselves and towards those we employ. Inclusivity, diversity and equality run parallel, so let us open our hearts and accept that our realities cannot be reflected only by our local views and concepts; we must look further and beyond our own experiences. Our neighbours globally bear influence on us as we do them and in order for all of us to live side by side we must rid ourselves of judgement and accept a positive image of all walks of life.
If you enjoyed reading my blog and felt that inclusivity is the new equality – be first to find more out about our news or special offers by signing up to our mailing list, or if you wish to contribute a story, suggestion or even collaborate with us, please send us an email, we would love to hear your views and experiences.