Why Don’t They Look Like Me? The Diversity Dilemma in Outdoor Media

Studies by OIA for the past five years show that Asians get outside just as much as white people do. There’s no shortage of people of all colors getting outdoors, so why isn’t that reflected in our media, advertising, print, and everything down to that Instagram picture you just double-tapped on?

by Paulina Dao, LittleGrunts.com

Sometime last year I was tossed on a list of women of color to follow on Instagram. This struck me as odd. Mostly because I don’t particularly identify with being Asian. I’m not Paulina the Asian outdoor blogger. I’m just Paulina, this person who also happens to be yellow. I grew up in the Bay Area, the suburbs of Cupertino to be more precise. I’m fortunate enough to live and play in a place where almost everyone goes outside, regardless of gender, background or skin color. Being a person of color wasn’t really a thing I was aware of. Diversity wasn’t a thing I thought about. It just was. Until recently.

Anela Ramos fishing in the Sawtooths, ID. Photo by Anela Ramos.

A personal interaction with an influencer in the outdoor space got me pondering the industry and diversity as of late. The outdoor industry is in a period of change. Conversations are no longer about the coolest gear, the gnarliest whipper, or the most pimped out van. They’re about sustainability, accessibility, inclusivity, and moving the industry forward. They’re about promoting our national parks, public lands, and state parks as a place for all, to use, to play and to protect.

Why is it that we talk about these topics, and say we should do better without any real course of action? If the idea is to make the outdoors more approachable, inclusive, and diverse, why are many of the industry’s very vocal, prominent thought leaders not paving the way for change? If the industry is to broaden the bubble and bring everyone in, why not begin by taking small, actionable steps?Take Wild Women’s Project, for example. Fresh off the tails of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the inaugural event brought together inspirational women across the outdoor industry to lead forward-thinking conversations and actions on creativity,

Take Wild Women’s Project, for example. Fresh off the tails of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the inaugural event brought together inspirational women across the outdoor industry to lead forward-thinking conversations and actions on creativity, conservation and connection. Scan through the Instagram and you’ll see a group of strong women frolicking in the wild. Except there’s one thing: for such an influential group, not much color was to be found. Attendee and the brains behind the blog of Just a Colorado Gal Heather Balogh writes about how the group “discussed inclusivity while acknowledging the lack of diversity as we gazed upon the lily-white faces of everyone in the group.” Even event mastermind and BoldBrew co-founder Amanda Goad admits that “even though we had industry diversity in our group, why did our group lack ethnic diversity?”

To share a story out of my book—the one that sparked this train of thought—an acquaintance reached out to tell me she might be in San Francisco for a photoshoot, budget permitting. This acquaintance is a key influencer in many social campaigns surrounding the outdoor industry in the last two years, especially around being inclusive, welcoming and open to all. Based out of the Bay Area and all, I said to toss my name in the ring because… diversity. The message was met with radio silence. I later found out they were still looking for women to participate.

Source: Why Don’t They Look Like Me? The Diversity Dilemma in Outdoor Media

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