womens-runningThe other day I saw this magazine cover for Women’s Running being shared on social media. It was a moment of collective pride to see a beautiful muslim woman in a hijab being represented on such a huge scale. Not just a feature. The actual cover.

Muslim women are hugely under-represented in the media. But people like Rahaf Khatib, Dina Torkia, Mariah Idrissi, Amena  of Pearl Daisy and of course the lovely Nadiya are slowly breaking down the barriers by being featured in big-named campaigns. By including them on their covers/adverts/shows, it gives young muslim women the feeling that they have a place in society, that they are seen, heard and belong- which, in this climate of division, is no small thing.

So what does this have to do with sewing? Well soon after I saw this cover,  I happened to be browsing sewing magazines and I noticed something. None of the covers featured a woman of black, asian or minority ethnicity (BAME). Not one.

Maybe this was just coincidence? I was probably missing something, right? So I put my science hat on and did some impromptu research. I went through the all of the issues from October 2015 to 2016 from 4 of the big sewing names (ones that I could get hold of the covers for online). That’s 52 magazines. And none of them featured BAME models on their covers. Granted, one had patchwork toys on one of their covers, but the other 51 magazines? Zero.

Quite honestly- this isn’t OK.

Sewing is all about celebrating diversity: our different shapes, sizes, styles. It’s the most beautiful thing about the sewing community. So why have we failed to reflect this diversity through the basic inclusion of models of different skin colours?

If Women’s Running magazine has shown anything, it’s that it isn’t just up to magazines like Vogue to make historic steps in inclusion. We should be using all of our platforms to reflect our diversity. Please don’t get me wrong-I’m not asking for you to all to put a woman in a hijab on your covers. But I am asking you to include models of BAME. Not just as a one off. Not as a special feature. It’s time we reflect our amazing community and #SewInColour.

5 replies on “An Open Letter: Sew In Colour

  1. Thank you for posting this. Sadly, it isn’t surprising to me that there is so little diversity on the covers of sewing magazines, but I agree that we bloggers should push for change! One thing I’ve been doing these past few months is trying to diversify my blog roll as there are so many talented sewers of color out there if you look for them but I feel like my online world is almost as segregated as my real life here in the southern US.

    1. That’s such a great idea! It is so sad that there’s so little inclusion. I should have a follow up on this post soon 🙂

  2. I think the key point is what you said about it not being a feature or one-off. It’s bothersome that everyone goes nuts when a person of color is featured on a magazine cover; there have been minority models featured on Threads, Sew News, and KnitScene in the past year or so, and a huge spin-up response was elicited. And I’m pretty sure that the only way to stop minority models from being seen as a “trick feature” is to put minority models into the regular rotation. It’s like desensitization, but in a good way.

    So yes, I also would like to see more diverse representation among the models in magazines for makers. =)

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