How the Every Woman campaign challenges beauty standards

Does Canadian media truly represent the population of one of the most diverse nations in the world? Jess Lewis—and, let’s be real, the stats—would argue otherwise. That’s why, in the provocative new campaign she’s producing, Jess is showcasing a diverse cast of models from a variety of backgrounds. As in: “curve and straight size models, a pregnant 40+ mom-to-be, a trans woman, south asian women, and more.”

Jess is a producer, former model, and passionate advocate for diversity in media. In her collaboration with Knix, she staged a powerfully inclusive photoshoot for her “Every Woman” campaign, an initiative designed to make a connection between public health and imagery in media. And we were thrilled to be a part of this important project. We spoke with Jess to talk about the inspiration behind the campaign and why diversity in entertainment is so important.

How did it all start?

The inspiration behind the campaign really came from the rich diversity I see in the general Canadian population, and the fact that it is not being reflected in our media and fashion industries. I was eager to build a campaign that could be used to create discussions within these industries, and with the wider population as well. I wanted to be able to create a point of reference here in Canada, with Canadian brands and talent, so I could show how much of a demand there is for diverse representation in media here.

“Being in the fashion industry has always been a goal of mine, but I didn’t always see that as a real possibility for me because I’m a trans woman and there are different barriers because of that. So now that I do have the opportunity, I feel a sense of responsibility to my community.” - Sydney, Every Woman model

So why Knix?

I wanted to [partner with] brands that were already telling women they deserve to see themselves reflected in the media, and I really wanted it to be a Canadian brand. I was excited by the existing messages that Knix had presented through their campaigns. So many brands aren’t in favour of showing women’s bodies as they are and a diverse range of them as they are. So Knix was the perfect fit.

“For a long time, women in this industry have looked a certain type of way. So as a woman of colour, to be a bigger woman of colour, I haven’t seen a lot of women who look like me in media. By doing campaigns like this, we can help women look at themselves and think, yeah, I’m beautiful too!” - Bree, Every Woman model

What can we all do to support a more inclusive, representative media landscape?

Challenge the images that you are seeing yourself. Challenge the beauty standards that we have been raised with. Ask yourself, “Is there tokenism being used? Is this inclusive? Is it age, size, race, ability inclusive?” All of that. These are questions people can ask themselves and it will help to change their mindsets on what beauty is. For me, that is number one.

Number two is social media. It is one of the most powerful tools we have. Tag the brands that you want to see change—you can speak directly to them. Know that they are listening to their consumers. And share the content from the brands that are doing it right. Let them know you see it and you appreciate it.

“I think having representation in the media is really important, because media is selling a fantasy, and why can’t we all be a part of that fantasy? Why can’t your body shape, or your skin colour, or your body’s different ability or disability be a part of that fantasy?” - Lesley, Every Woman model

The Every Woman campaign supports The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and works to bolster the conversation of diversity in media and its relation to public health.

To get involved, make a donation to the campaign here.

And if you’re in the Toronto area, come join us at the Every Woman campaign event at The Gladstone Hotel on August 1. The event is free and open to the public.