Model and content creator Catie Li sounded off about holding brands to their inclusion promises in a panel discussion at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, pointing to her recent “discouraging” trip to New York Fashion Week, where she was frustrated to see a lack of plus-size models from brands that have touted their commitment to inclusion.
“I didn’t see people like me in the room size-wise or otherwise, it was really discouraging,” Li said Wednesday during the Content with a Cause: Using Your Platform for Change panel presented by Adobe and moderated by Nina Parker. “I couldn’t get clothes — they didn’t have my size. People who say they’re about plus and are not really about plus, it’s obvious [and] I hate being a checkbox.”
Despite Li’s difficult experience, she chose to share her experience on her platform to highlight the reality of industry. “I just wanted to tell people, even somebody you see on social that you might look up to is still having a hard time,” Li said, adding that she can tell when brands are authentic to their inclusion goals.
Model, fashion creator and podcaster Raeann Langas echoed Li’s comments by explaining the necessity of examining a brand’s existing partnerships before agreeing to work with them.
“Let’s say the brand maybe doesn’t have the best track record, [it’s] asking questions, like what are your bigger plans?” Langas said. “You definitely get to see at like different events, who’s in the room if you’re working with a brand,” she said, adding that through her collaboration with Ugg she has gotten to work with people of diverse sizes, ages and ethnicities.
While partnerships are an essential part of the work of models and content creators, fostering an inclusive space starts from the content on creator’s own page.
For content creator Munera, increasing hijab representation and moving it to the mainstream was a big reason why she started producing content, and she even launched a series of hijab-wearing cartoons with her sister — an element that has thrilled her audience.
“[My followers] are like, this is the first thing we’ve seen hijabis being represented in like a cartoon space,” Munera said. “That’s something that we’re pretty excited about and … now we’re working on pushing that more to like the mainstream and getting Disney and all of those companies to be on board.”
While the content creators curate their pages themselves, Adobe content strategist Mallory Shoemaker works behind the scenes in the content creator space to connect brands seeking to promote inclusivity with diverse creators.
“It’s one of the first jobs that I feel like I’ve really been able to bring my most authentic self to work and the work that I get to do as a queer person,” Shoemaker said, pointing to a slew of templates Adobe made during Pride month and their annual creative trends study.
The Power Women Summit (PWS) is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “A Time to Unite.” Learn more here: thewrap.com/pws.