Thursday, May 23Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Diversity’s Demons

Hefina explains how to embrace your individuality

‘Be your own person’, ‘don’t let others dictate who you are’ -the sad reality is, people find it difficult to express who they want to be. The lack of diversity today is an appropriate reflection of the media’s influence on our own bodies. Often the media depicts how we should look, what size we need to be, what we should class as normal; most of us have grown up in society’s constructions, demonstrating the lack of diversity today and why this needs to be changed.

There are many examples of an absence in diversity, mainly through the different industries; however, it is more prominent in fashion, especially through the form of media. It can be argued that the clothes, accessories and often even the hairstyles and make-up presented in the fashion industry can be both quirky and unique, straying away from the typical mainstream pieces- each designer going against the ‘norm’ to provide a wow factor for buyers. You never see the exact same outfit shown on the catwalk, designers try to promote their own creations rather than copy others; therefore, highlighting the importance of individuality. If individuality can be pulled off on a large scale on the catwalk, then it can 100% be pulled off on the street. I love seeing people in the street wearing whatever they want, embracing their own clothing and feeling good with their own style. It’s so important to be different and not feel like people will comment on how your outfit is ‘too revealing’, ‘wacky’ or just ‘plain weird’. Society needs to be changed, people should be confident in their own skin. The only way this can be established is by breaking down judgements and encouraging individuality.

Diversity isn’t always as ‘black and white’ as it may seem, boosting individuality is an important part of it- but I believe it promotes self-confidence, and how you should feel comfortable in your own skin. Diversity’s main demon is often the media, and how its power of encouragement and discouragement surrounding body image can influence how we see ourselves. Wherever you go, whatever you’re doing, there will always be some form of advertisement showing off lean, airbrushed women or men with defining muscles- the stereotypical model. We’re all guilty of wishing ourselves better, to be more model-like; yet we all need to learn to be happy in our skin, and ignore what the media tells us. Fashion websites define curvy as ‘plus’ size, skin products tell us that stretch marks aren’t normal, society even tells us what body parts to cover up. It’s okay to say no to this, to allow yourself to break away from society’s norm and to tell yourself you will never be that model, but you don’t want to be because you are your own person and you love yourself for it. Yes, the media may portray us as different if we don’t ‘fit’ into the expectations of society, but who cares? Being more diverse, being more you is what truly matters.

Your body. Your life. Your decision. Embrace your individuality, your style, your skin. Diversity is both beautiful and important, it’s what makes us, us. Only you should be in control of how you define yourself. No one should tell you otherwise.

Photo credit: OMONDI on tumblr