How Wellness Brands & Influencers Can Be Anti-Racist Allies, by Margo Francois
As a Black woman working in the wellness and beauty sectors, the past few weeks have been filled with pain, sadness, anger, fear and hope. I cling to the power of hope because I know that despite there being so much work to do, I am still my ancestors’ wildest dreams. As we navigate these unprecedented times of reckoning and advocating for racial equality, the hope in my heart whispers “We will see change.”
Prior to a few weeks ago, I could challenge anyone who’s reading this blog post to scroll through any mainstream wellness company’s Instagram feed or website, count the number of Black people they saw, and not be shocked to find about 1-5 total after minutes of scrolling. Oftentimes, it is the same Black model being used throughout all of the marketing, while multiple White models or ambassadors are featured. Occasionally sprinkling in a few Black and Brown faces (if at all) in marketing materials has been considered the status quo for many companies to check off the “diversity” box.
Things might look a bit more colorful when you scroll through social media, now, but it took a viral video of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of police to force companies to acknowledge how flagrantly systemic racial inequality is in America. Many of my White co-workers, friends and followers are experiencing a collective unlearning and are committed to doing the necessary work to become stronger allies. I know it isn’t easy and the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing can be heavy. For those who are in limbo about their commitment to supporting anti-racism, I say: Keep going. It won’t be easy and you will endure some uncomfortable moments and tough conversations with people you know and love, but don’t give up. Our future generations need you to be on the right side of history.
The paradigm shift to create more inclusive business models is no longer optional, it’s a must, and consumers of all colors are holding companies accountable. I challenge brands to continue to have uncomfortable conversations with their staff from the top to the bottom, and to work with experts to help implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion business strategies and benchmarks. If you don’t have any BIPOC or POC in decision-making positions, make that a part of the plan. If your marketing materials need to be more diverse, add that to the list as well. And please don’t just include one person of color. We are beyond tokenism and really value being seen across a spectrum of shades, hair textures, body shapes and gender identifications. When brands honor intersectionality, we notice.
For anyone who is reading this, I know that cultivating a paradigm shift takes time, but if you truly believe that Black Lives Matter just as much as White lives (not more…), I earnestly encourage you to commit to doing the necessary work to level the scales. It’s a privilege to fight racism and not have to experience it.
One of the reasons why I became a yoga teacher was because most of the national and local advertisements and marketing materials that I saw promoting wellness did not reflect people who looked like me. I wanted to use my platform as a wellness expert to make more Black and Brown people feel seen.
Article by: Margo Francois
To read more of Margo’s insights and inspirational words, visit her blog busyyogamom.com or check out her Instagram @blackyogamom.