The past friday I found myself at the pediatricians office waiting like everyone else to squeak in before they closed for the night with a sprained ankle that wouldn’t heal. There we sat, he and I, frustrated and patiently waiting for our name to be called. As I signed him in I grabbed a brochure sitting on the counter next to the list of names waiting to be seen. I am a photographer and beautiful imagery catches my eye. As I sat down next to my son I started flipping through the brochure, reading about how Tylenol would help my child get through pretty much any type of fever. There were gorgeous images of moms and babies, even Dads. There were babies of every ethnicity and they were thoughtfully placed throughout the whole brochure. It was beautiful but as I flipped to the back cover it was apparent to me that Tylenol had chosen their babies carefully. They took into consideration children with curly hair, thick hair and no hair. They had brown babies and white babies but they didn’t have my baby. They didn’t have one baby that looked like my baby. They didn’t have one baby with a difference.
I placed the brochure in my purse and grabbed the American Baby magazine and at this point I was on a mission to find my baby. I wanted to see a baby or a parent that would represent a visible difference so that I would feel my family actually exsisted. I took the magazine page by page and again marked off all the ethnicities, hair styles and sizes of the babies as well as parents, in the world but once again not one child with a difference to represent the largest minority in the world. My heart sunk. I frankly couldn’t believe my eyes. I work in this advertising world every day and on a day to day basis it honestly feels like we are making headway. But friday afternoon I was pretty sure we had a long way to go.
That night while watching my son play baseball I pulled my iPhone out and I wrote a proposition to all of you. I have been searching for creative ways to ask you all to donate to changing the face of beauty. To help kick start the organization and get it off the ground. I often feel like the mission itself is not good enough. That the hard work I did from the beginning is not valuable enough to build on. The facts are this. The community of people with disabilities are not seen, enough. I researched and there are approximately 125 million companies in our world. Having just a small handful of them represent this community is not enough. Right now Tylenol does not value the population of children that probably use their product the most, at least not enough to represent them in every Dr’s office in America. It is not right, and it is not ok.
Advertisers discard the 225 billion dollars people with disabilities spend every year. It is not communicated that money even matters if you look at their advertising campaigns. This needs to change and it will change with an organization like Changing the Face of Beauty committed to educating, promoting and reminding companies of how important their casting decisions are. This is not done through inspirational imagery, this is done through inclusion. Reminding companies it is OK to cast a person with a disability just as a person and not tied to some form of advocacy. It is OK to see people with disabilities as people because they are just that people. It is OK to use people with disabilities to sell products because they CAN sell products.
Our plans are to personally knock on doors and deliver cutting edge marketing material to all the big and small ad firms out there. We are ready to tell them why it is important to include the minority that makes up almost 20% of our country in their ad packaging for their clients. We will share with them how being seen in the media directly influences employment and independence for this large group of people. We will then double the list of committed companies from 100 to 200 in 2016 making them partners in this change. We will encourage, support and hold these companies accountable for their commitment as well as celebrate their achievement.
A mother should not have to pick up a magazine about American babies and not see a child that would represent her baby. A person living with a disability should not have to continually shop at companies who don’t reciprocate by letting her know they value her as a consumer. The largest minority in the world should not have to continually be invisible. We all work too hard to over come our obstacles to only be ignored.
It is time to take the voice of the future and ensure that people living with differences have a piece of that. What they have to say matters and until we capture a piece of the media that is rightful theirs their voice will not be heard as efficiently as it should. I am as passionate as ever to help decision makers really understand the impact they have on the future of people living with differences. I am just as passionate about developing a program directed at high schools and colleges to discuss the cause and effect of media imagery on the future of my daughter. These initiatives are important and they are different. The inclusion discussion has been going on for years with support of many organizations and communities and they have paved the way for our work today. We continue to collaborate and work closely with industry leaders invested in seeing more presence in the media. Since Changing the Face of Beauty started they have seen an increase of visibility and conversation. We did all of this with no budget at all. Imagine what we can do with your financial support. All it takes is 20.00 and 2500 people to make this happen. This money will help us roll these programs out quickly and increase the momentum we have already started.
Visibility equates to acceptance, inclusion, employment and independence. It is the one component that has been left out of advocacy. Investing in this will pay us all back with brighter futures for our loved ones filled with real employment and self worth. The biggest gift we can give to our children is a strong foundation and some place for them to use that foundation to feel good about themselves.
Won’t you join us? Won’t you help us take the message of Changing the Face of Beauty to every ad firm, company, and school in america? and we need your financial support. We have started a go fund me! 20.00 x 2500 people we can do this!
Please considering making a pledge to the future and sharing with your friends and family. Lets do this together!