After many years of seeing only white, one size models on Irish magazine covers I’ve finally started a petition that has been on my mind a lot. I have names it Representation Matters Ireland https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/representation-matters-ireland
My friend and fellow blogger Emma Murphy is involved, she has 2 mixed race children like I am, and knows how important represention is.
I also have Anne Morgan, owner of Distinct Model Managment backing the movement and Dean McDaid of Not Another Agency.
‘For me, representation matters because already what we see on the catwalk has not been representative of women for years in terms of size, but this is also the same for skin colour. Fashion can’t sweep this under the carpet by using a token model of colour every so often, it’s important what’s put out in the media is representative of the reality of society now in 2019. It’s important for our kids to grow up to know there is no difference in skin colour or size, and it’s important for people to not feel isolated in a society that already has shortcomings when it comes to talking about mental health issues and how we can all make a difference individually and collectively”Anne Morgan – Distinct Model Managment
What really prompted me to start the petition and what was the last straw for me was by a very white “top 100 Irish stars” list I seen recently on an Irish “gossip” site a couple of weeks ago. Out of the 100 not one person on colour was included…not one! Let that sink in, not one out of 100. I was saddened but not overly shocked, Sadly this erasure of colour is very common in Irish media and advertisement, whether intentional or not it needs to change. Looking at newsstands the lack of representation is stark.
Representation of all colours, shapes, and sizes and abilities of people in Ireland matters.
I talk about it a lot (pretty sure people are sick of me talking about it, but that is their privilidge to ignore it and be sick of it, it doesn’t affect them directly) on my Instagram and a few months ago even took screenshots of all the top Irish magazine covers and most only featured one person of colour per year, don’t get me started on the lack of inclusion for disabled people and/or different body and hair types.
This is a video I made that I think really hits home what is lacking.
View this post on Instagram
<petition link in bio> I put this video together to show just how lacking representation people of colour are in this country. I honestly cried while putting this video together because it was so clear and so sad to see that only one type of skin colour is considered good enough to sell Irish magazines. And one type of body size. Out of these hundreds of magazine covers you can literally count on one hand how many women of colour there was 😞 This is one of the reasons I stopped buying magazines, they made me feel I was not good enough or pretty enough for society and I know many women of all shapes, sizes and colours feel the same. This has to change, for our kids sake and young girls seeing this. Imagine growing up thinking your skin colour or body type is not good enough to be on the front of magazines? It’s so damaging. A model agent I was talking to said so many young women don’t follow their dream of modelling because they don’t see people like them on covers. Wouldn’t it be nice if al kids grow up know all shapes abilities and skin colours are beautiful and worthy to be represented, seen and heard? Please join myself (@glitter_mama_) @emma_murphy_fitness & @notanotheragency by signing out petition to get Irish media to make a more conscious effort to include more diversity. It can be done. Ways you can help 1️⃣Sign the petition at https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/representation-matters-ireland 2️⃣ Use #representationmattersireland to bring this issue to the attention of media you feel could do a better job at inclusion. 3️⃣ share, tag your friends, influencers, bloggers, media anyone who can help and make a difference to how out media represents Ireland ❤️ 4️⃣Tell us why #representationmatters to you?! #representationmatters #representation #inclusionmatters #inclusion #diversity #diversitymatters
As you can see, the lack of diversity is very stark. This erasure of colour
Seeing only one type of race on magazines either unconsciously or consciously affects how we see ourselves and others.
I know myself and I know others who have immediately felt overlooked and unheard because of peoples snap judgements based on their skin colour and I
I remember being at a few events and someone who had now met me a few times said they remember when they first say me, they thought I was ‘going to talk all foreign’ so were surprised when I had a thick Dublin accent. I remember working in salon and a new male hairdresser came in, he talked down to me, talked slow because he immediately thought I was foreign and would not understand. Both times I’ve left feeling like an alien and patronised. So what if I did speak a different language, you shouldn’t treat people like they are incapable of understanding or not being spoken to in a polite manner.
I wonder how many opportunities I and others missed because of peoples snap judgments and immediate dismissal of people of colour because they are simply unused to the idea that people of colour live here, are born here and are members of society here too. How many times have I been at say an event and people don’t want to communicate with me in case I’m foreign and it’s awkward. From talking to people I’ve also heard that because lack of representation in
Tokenism is not enough, the industry needs to change at it’s core.
Also, yes, some people may say ‘Well such and such had a model of colour last year’ and that is great, really it is. But one or two times a year is editors (and lets face it all white editors of Irish magazines) just ticking a box to say they had ‘diversity’, so really it is just tokenism.
I have talked about this with magazine editors before and the main reason they give is that the market isn’t there. I don’t think that is a proper explanation for not giving space to women of colour. There is more than enough room for diversity on our covers, after all, our country is multicultural and the land of a thousand welcomes as they say. If showing diversity was the norm I don’t think sales would be affected. I also think there
It’s all well and good having one model of colour a year but what is being done at the core of the business? How many editors of colour are there? How many writers? I don’t think I know of any magazine editors of colour and very few writers of colour in the Irish media.
Another question posed to me is ‘But there
My answer to that to that is; trust me, there is plenty, but because only white people get the coverage and seemingly respected more, people of colour aren’t getting the same opportunities, that is white privilege. People of colour have to fight harder to for the same opportunities as white people, I wish it wasn’t that way but it is and there is no point ignoring that, we are still a pretty racist country.
Saying ‘I don’t see colour’ is a cop out and all it’s doing is ignoring extra layer of struggles people of colour have and that is not helping. That is
When people recognise their white privilege, people start to make a more conscious effort to include people of colour. Just as a conscious effort has to be made to include more women in certain areas such as the government for example because it was necessary and needed.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. I’m still trying to learn and be a better feminist and use better language; be more inclusive. The thing is I’m open to learning and open to change. That is where the Irish media can start, not just simply talk about “plans” to be more inclusive but actually do it, start a conversation about it, be active and not just ignore it.
I would love to see an Irish magazine actually do a feature on the topic of representation. We need to start a conversation. I cannot tell you how many people message me when I talk about lack of representation saying they never notice it because it doesn’t affect them, they feel bad but I always say it’s great you have recognised it now though and see why it’s a problem. Build on that and call out brands and media when you see lack of representation.
I have brought this issue up before over the years with Irish publications and I was mostly met with defensiveness and told I should have gone to them privately about the issue instead of publicly and “working against them”. That particular outlet said they featured loads of diversity inside the cover, which is great but evading the topic of representation on the cover of magazines.
Another outlet said it’s a matter of sales not being high enough when they have a woman of colour on their magazine which leaves a lot to ponder on how influenced Irish society has been on what is the norm for magazine covers and worthy of buying based on someone skin colour.
I don’t want Irish media to see this as an attack, but an opportunity to listen and learn about what their readers want. All we are asking is that a more conscious effort be made to include more people of colour on their magazines. Listen to the people who have lived experience of not feeling represented in Irish media. It is my hope that with a more diverse selection of models on Irish magazines that the younger generation will grow up used to seeing different races (and shapes and abilities too of course). There are plenty of talented models of colour to choose from. Plenty of talented Irish people of colour to choose from too if looking for celebs, if only they were given the same exposure as white people.
Everyone deserves to be represented, seen and heard. I think we can all agree to show more diversity on covers is not doing any harm or taking away from white people who already have a ton of representation everywhere you look; more diversity can only be a good thing for our generation and younger ones to see growing up and hopefully become the new norm. There is so much beauty in diversity.
Don’t forget to sign and share the petition here https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/representation-matters-ireland
Also, if you want to explore more about lack of representation I highly suggest having a look at the story highlights from Rida @beforeandagain_ and Aja @ajabarber.
Makiko also has a brilliant blog post that I really related to about being afraid to speak up about lack of representation, see here.
Another post about feeling ‘alien’ in her own country because of the issue of lack of representation is written by Atia here