The word “diverse” by definition is about variety and difference. Society today has a huge range of diverse features, and this much is obvious on social media. People from all kinds of backgrounds can connect online. By raising awareness of diversity, social media has the power to positively impact society. Here at SUBCULTURED we think that difference should be celebrated, not discriminated against. These next three examples show times where social media smashed society’s rigid way of thinking.
Tess Holliday, a size 22 supermodel, had had enough of the fashion industry’s attempt to control what plus size women should or shouldn’t wear. In 2012 she used the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards on an Instagram post, stating that, “we all deserve to feel beautiful.” Today, the hashtag has been used over 2 million times by people all over the world, as a way to stand up to society’s standards and raise an awareness of the beauty of all kinds of different body types.
When 2016 became the second year running that no actors of colour were nominated for the Oscars, the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite acted as protest against the prejudice of the Academy. Whilst some argued that increasing ethnic diversity would lead to the nominees being patronised, it became clear that the film industry needs a greater awareness of the diversity of both the people who work for them, and those who watch the films they make. Highlighting a lack of diversity led to more diversity in the 2017 ceremony, which is a positive step in the right direction.
Also in 2015, an advertisement came out for OneLogin, a software company in San Francisco. This featured a picture of Isis Anchalee, a software engineer. The advert went viral after people claimed that Anchalee was a model, suggesting that she was somehow “too pretty” to be a software engineer. She then wrote a sign with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, with a picture of herself holding it. Her intention was to raise awareness about the gender diversity in the tech industry, and it’s safe to say her project succeeded. Many others then used the hashtag to talk about their own stories, showing that people in any profession do not have to look a certain way.
Overall, it’s clear that society still has a long way to go to raise awareness about diversity. But through social media, anyone can contribute to the world in a positive way. We hold the power to make society a place where anyone can feel safe, and prove that despite what society says, we can make a difference.
Text by Jess Madanayake
Picture research by Donna Darafshian; featured image from CNN Style.