We Are Living Cutes’ body diversity campaign isn’t like anything you’ve ever seen before.
My LGBTIQ+ siblings and children, gather round and let me tell you the story of how big Australian brands became inclusive. Sit in a circle enthralled as I tell you of a time before we were all equally represented in the media, when our LGBTIQA+ brothers, sisters and siblings felt lost, isolates and misunderstood by their homeland and the people in it. Allow me to reminisce about the times when trans and non-binary folk were afraid to walk the street alone at night (and women for that matter), when not every building or form of transport was accessible and when the only people you saw in major advertising campaigns were cisgender, able-bodied people… Oh wait, we’re still living in it.
No, this is not a nightmare, this is the world we live in.
In a society where cisgender herteronormative men and women are the norm and the only LGBTIQ people who exist in the media are cisgender gay and lesbian men and women feeling invisible seems inevitable. If you’re queer, differently-abled, gender non-conforming, basically if you lie anywhere outside the cis-gay/lesbian bubble (sometimes even if you do find yourself within it) finding representation in the media, particularly in advertising seems like a war you’re never going to win. A war that can have such a huge impact on your perception of self and identity.
When many self-love journeys begin with what we see around us, how are we to learn to love ourselves when you can’t find yourself in the world you live in? This is why representation is so important to anyone struggling to accept and love themselves, especially in the LGBTIQA+ Community.
“How different would your life have been if, growing up, you saw someone who looked like you in magazines and on the TV? Would it have saved you years of anguish and self-loathing? Would it have made it easier to come out or put your identity into words?“
As teenagers many of us longed to see some semblance of ourselves in a main stream media that constantly told us that our bodies were wrong. As a fat girl questioning her sexuality, what a difference seeing other fat queer folk on the TV would’ve made to my journey of self-love and acceptance. As an adult I now consciously curate my socials so that what I see in my feed is an accurate representation of people of all shapes and sizes and not just the straight-size, cis-gendered white women that grace the covers of magazines.
As absent as it is, unless you’ve actually gone looking for representation of your body in the media, I doubt you’d notice that there isn’t any, particularly in Australia. While brands like City Chic, Myer and David Jones have come to cater to a plus-size market their plus-size advertising campaigns predominately feature size 12-16 women with flat bellies (who are often wearing padding) and the majority of models seen are white, able bodied, cis-gendered women. The lesson to be learned – just because a brand stocks up to a size 22 does not make it inclusive or diverse.
Recently Target Australia launched their Every Body lingerie campaign, the Australian Body Positive, Fat Activist and Queer communities were on the edge of their seats waiting, longing to see the diversity of Australian bodies represented in a main stream advertising campaign. To see people that looked like we do was all we wanted. The women featured in the campaign were flat stomached, size 16 and below, of varying ethnicities but the collection of women was hardly diverse on any level. What was hoped would be a step towards inclusivity for the Australian fashion industry turned out to be just like every other Australian campaign, more marginalizing than it was inclusive. Similarly, when Marks and Spencer launched their Australian online store, earlier this year, one couldn’t help but notice the lack of size and gender diversity present in the models and ‘influencers’ invited to promote the launch. Ironic given the diversity of the models used in their UK campaigns.
Australian women and non-binary folk are looking to the brands that cater to their size for inclusion and representation but these brands are clearly falling short. But why? Is it so hard to find truly diverse models? Lori and Jamie of We Are Living Cute don’t think it is – and have made it their mission to prove to Australian brands that inclusivity and diversity are possible once you remove your goggles of privilege and look outside your world.
Lori and Jaimie are the body-positive feminist minds behind We Are Living Cute; a brand all about ‘self-love, body diversity and living authentically you’. Fed up with the lack of true representation present in Australia’s media Lori and Jamie created the account to highlight bodies of every shape and size, every gender identity and ethnicity, and every ability to show the world people who are unapologetically themselves however that may look.
So when Target launched its ‘Every Body’ campaign, and in doing so ostracized almost every body, these powerhouse women decided to take action, one Instagram rant and a call out for truly diverse models later, ‘We Are Every Body” became an unstoppable juggernaut for body acceptance and self-love. We Are Living Cute had over one hundred and fifty applications from people longing to be the change they want to see in the world. Applications poured in from cis-women, trans-women, non-binary folk and people of all ages, sizes, ethnicities and abilities. The body positive community was buzzing with the possibility that this photo-shoot could change things, that life could be different.
Sixteen people were selected to come together and show how beautiful and diverse Australia really is while simultaneously showing big brands how it’s done and the results are inspired. Aged up to 60 years young, women of colour, trans-women, cis-women, non-binary folk, differently abled people, sufferers of mental illness and chronic diseases, Mums, daughters, siblings, professionals, students; no truer representation of how diverse and beautiful Australian bodies are has ever existed.
Each person’s reason for bearing all for the camera is as diverse as the bodies they inhabit. These are people who take up space, who know that they deserve to take up space and they want to share that message of acceptance and love with anyone who needs it.
Raquel wanted to be the representation for children of colour that wasn’t present when she was growing up in a very white Australia.
AJ Clementine believes that life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself so she is spreading that message as a proud Trans woman to people of the LGBTIQ+ community who might be struggling in their journey of self-discovery.
Paralympian, Elle wants differently abled people to be represented in the media because they are amazing people doing their thing, not because they are people living with disabilities.
And then there’s Pam who, melting the hearts of children around the country, at 60 years of age and four children later is only now beginning to take time for herself and truly love the body that has given her so much. Watching Pam, with tears streaming down her face, explain that she is doing the photo-shoot to show her daughter (Lori) how proud she is of her, would melt the heart of the coldest cynic and inspire people of all ages to embrace their bodies for all that they do for us. No matter who you are, there is something in this photo-shoot for everyone.
How different would your life have been if, growing up, you saw someone who looked like you in magazines and on the TV? Would it have saved you years of anguish and self-loathing? Would it have made it easier to come out or put your identity into words? Lori and Jaimie set a goal to lift people up and help to empower them because of their differences, not despite them and with the We Are Every Body photo-shoot, they have succeeded. Each of the people involved in We Are Every Body shared the same message; there are so many types of beautiful, including yours. Each person has their own story, their own tale of adversity in the face of difference, their own account of exclusion and self-hate and every single one of the glorious bodies featured is on its own journey of self-love and acceptance.
So to big brands around the country the Body Positive Community has this challenge for you; if you advertise yourself as being plus-size and/or inclusive, prove it. Stop using straight models and padding them, don’t be afraid of a wheelchair or a walking stick and remember that people of different ethnicities and gender identities buy clothes too. It’s time to lift your game.
This is diversity. This is inclusivity. This is Australia. – LJC
Make up artist + hair: @bridgetsophiestudio
Models: Jenny – @jennyamosa Ella – @saltypatra Sham – @anfractuous Brenda – @bekeanehealthyandfit Amelia – @amelioratingmylife AJ – @ajclementine_ Raquel – @raqataqx Jaimie – @jaimienicole Victoria – @theproserpina Elle – @iamellesteele Lori – @heylorijane Savannah – @_redlipsandliner_ Revathi – @revathi_shan Pam – @grandmapammy_ Lucy – @thatgirl_lucyryan Anita – @neitzarr