Why is representation important?
My name is Jason Clymo and I am a 22 year old model living with a disability. I am incredibly passionate about diversity and inclusion within the fashion industry and mainstream media/ advertising. I believe that the current lack of representation has horrible implications for the self-steem of excluded individuals, as well as negatively impacting society's perceptions of people living with disabilities (along with many other minority groups that are continually not represented).
These impacts on self-esteem and society's perceptions/ beliefs have a devastating ripple effect, resulting in (and continually fueling) the barriers that prevent people with disability to have equal opportunity in everyday life.
Most of the time these barriers are not deliberate, but are the result of a subconscious bias that many members of society hold. Bringing me back to my main point - this subconscious bias is most often fed by the media. An example: if there were no blonde-haired models, TV presenters, actors, singers etc. featured in the media, then society would subconsciously be fed the lie that blonde hair is not desirable. Or even scarier, that people with blonde hair are lesser. This is what is happening to people with disabilities right now. Every single day.
If that didn't make sense - essentially what I am saying is: excluding people with disability in the fashion industry and mainstream media/advertising results in society subconsciously lowering their expectations or thinking less of people with disability. This subconscious bias then results in very real barriers - in terms of employment, education, relationships and all other aspects of life.
Every business, company, agency etc. in these industries has such a great opportunity right now to make some real positive change.
Recently I saw the movie 'The Greatest Showman'. Not only was it a fantastic movie, there was also one particular quote that stuck with me - "a celebration of humanity".
It was so perfect. Celebrate humanity.
That is simply what I am asking for when I campaign for brands, designers, companies, businesses etc to be more inclusive and diverse in their campaigns and advertising.
Humanity is incredibly diverse. So to celebrate humanity, we must celebrate diversity.
CONSUMERS HAVE POWER
I have been asked many times how others could help me on my journey of creating change in the fashion and advertising industries.
Side note: You should also know that I'm not alone - there are plenty of amazing individuals in the world who are also campaigning for inclusion/representation. Many of which, I have learnt a lot from.
But to those who feel empowered to help, my answer to you is CONSUMERS HAVE POWER. More than ever, consumers are in control of the market. We just don't always realise it, and we definitely don't utilise that control enough. But it's there - companies, designers and brands are all constantly trying to appeal to their consumers in an extremely competitive market.
So, if you want to see some positive change in these industries, I ask you to accept some responsibility and use the power and privilege that you have as a consumer. Simply send an email (or DM, PM, call, send a letter - whatever works for you) to one or two of your favourite brands, designers, magazines, companies, businesses etc. and ask them to be more inclusive. Ask them to use and hire more diverse models/people... People with disability, people who wear larger sized clothing, people who are older than the average model, people of different cultures - the list goes on. Because the only way to make a real shift, is to create a movement.
You are a consumer. You are powerful. Ask for more and demand better.
Starting With Julius Ad-Inclusion Ambassador
Models of Diversity Ambassador