This is going to be tough for a lot of people to hear...
But it's time for me to share an observation that I think needs to change.
Statements like "Aren't they beautiful?", "Look how gorgeous", "These two are babes", "They are the freaking cutest", are overwhelmingly common these days in relation to wedding or elopement photos. You know you've seen it, you might have even done it yourself. But here's why I think you should think twice before you combine statements like that - especially with the photos of white, hetero, thin couples.
First things first: I'm a firm believer in the power of language. The words we use and don't use form our cultures and alter our perceptions. I don't believe "free speech" is at stake due to the compassion it requires to use inclusive and connective language rather than destructive and divisive words. The fact that we have politically correct terminology is proof that we are moving forward as a culture to recognize the variance in the human experience and are purposefully sensitive to the weight of that change. Free speech to me does not mean you can say whatever the heck you want and that political correctness is holding us back from saying the "honest" things. That is hate speech.
So now that that's clear - let's talk about beauty.
The media is a mix of visual imagery and words, and therefore could have an even more powerful effect on culture than just words. This is what we are a part of every day as wedding vendors on social media now - we are creating the culture around weddings with our images and our words.
So when we post pictures of white, hetero, thin couples and mainly focus on their looks, all we are doing is perpetuating the long-held and incorrect belief that people who look like that are the most beautiful.
If that's what your clients mainly look like, do you really believe that to be the truth? I doubt you do, and I hope you don't. If you do, I don't know how to reach you quite yet... So mainly, I'm sure it's really nothing you've ever thought of before because that's all you've ever been taught and shown in media. Plus it's easy to just talk about surface level looks when we want to post a picture of something we just created, right? We want to share it with the world and we think it's beautiful, what does it hurt? But I'm asking you to think a bit harder about what your putting out there and it's effect on people. At this point I'm practically begging it, because the fact that there is only one magazine I know of that makes it a priority to talk about all aspects of the wedding day other than looks AND includes couples of all colors, shapes, sizes, and looks is proof that we are still in a standstill on beauty expectation in the wedding industry.
Shouldn't weddings, a celebration centered around love and connection be inclusive to all people?
(Shoutout to Catalyst Wedding Co. - I'm so thankful for you!)
So, what can you do?
For a start, instead of talking about the visual aspect of a couples wedding, talk about what they said, how they acted, moments that connected with you - literally anything else. I honestly think it would be better to just say nothing at all rather than comment on their looks.
If you want to go further, make diversity in your portfolio a priority.
Our words and our images are powerful - why don't we try and use them as a force for good instead of perpetuating the same self-deprecating and unrealistic standards our consumeristic culture has been pushing for so long now.
Inclusivity, self-love, and connection are well worth it, I promise you.