On International Women's Day, Garnier UK released an advert on Instagram of six women with the caption "We are strong, We are ambitious, We are awesome (and into double denim), We are women". All six women in the advert are white.
So why is it important that adverts are diverse?
Approximately 13% of the UK population is from a Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) background. What message does this kind of advert send to the 13% of the UK population that is not white? Are they not strong, ambitious, awesome (and into double denim), or women? Are Garnier products not for them to use or buy?
Not seeing yourself reflected in adverts, or on television and in films, can reinforce beliefs you have about your place in the world. Large portions of the world's population carry a common burden accumulated through their historic experiences of war, torture and slavery, to name a few. For example, Indians and Pakistani's may carry the burden of the British Empire rule and partition; African-Americans may carry the burden of slavery; women may carry the burden of exploitation, repression and violence inflicted against them as a gender; the crisis in Syria will likely affect generations of Syrians to come. Whilst people may not have a direct personal experience of these events, they will ultimately have been raised by those that did. What is also passed along with these events is the common burden of suffering rooted in history. Identifying with these experiences helps one identify with who they are and where they come from.
In addition to these common burdens, many people are affected in a similar way by a personal burden accumulated throughout their life of events that were experienced by them directly. Personal burdens affect anyone irrespective of ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation or religion. Both have the same effect when everyday situations, such as adverts not reflecting you, or anyone who is not white, trigger a thought pattern and reinforce a negative belief, such as feeling inferior, not being good enough, or as important as another. The suffering is kept alive, albeit misplaced. These cycles can be broken and advertising can play a small role.
When you see people who represent you, and that you can relate to, it can have a positive impact on your aspirations and what you consider as achievable. Seeing another woman in a senior role in your company can enhance your own career aspirations. Advertising is no different and has a far wider reach.
In addition to looking for a level of acceptance of our place in the world in adverts and on television, they also shape how we see others by reflecting a more accurate representation of the cultural diversity of the audience, and of the country. It leaves an unconscious imprint in our mind of what the norm is.
Companies in the beauty industry have a huge platform to shape the confidence levels of younger generations and with the reach and influence they have, comes a responsibility to accurately represent the demographic of the country - to be inclusive, not exclusive. It also makes good business sense - represent the population and more people will relate to your adverts and buy your products.
Born and Raised is an an ongoing series that shares the experiences of British people from the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) communities in Britain. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to tell your story email firstname.lastname@example.org or if there's an issue you'd like us to explore, email email@example.com