S05 Episode 250 | Natalie Shehata on why *diversity* is tokenistic and advocating for holistic inclusion


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In episode 250, Kestrel welcomes Natalie Shehata, a stylist focused on sustainability, to the show. Natalie currently works as the Retail Trainer for The Social Outfit, a Sydney-based fashion label who provides employment and training to people from refugee and new migrant communities.

“We have these brands, and we have people kind of saying — ok, I need to tick this box and I need to do this and I need to make sure that I have women of color in our photo shoots and our editorial campaigns, and I need to make sure x, y and z. And that to me is why diversity is tokenistic, because it’s not happening from the roots, it’s not happening from the foundation, it’s not happening from a system that was built by BIPOC and for BIPOC.” -Natalie

In 2018, Natalie presented a speech at the Disposable Planet seminar for Eco Fashion Week Australia titled: “How the sustainable fashion space should focus on: representation, inclusivity and visibility.”

While this was written almost 3 years ago, it continues to resonate strongly today, and has proven to make a powerful influence on the fashion community in Australia, specifically.

One aspect Natalie highlights in this speech is why diversity can be very tokenistic. The following part from that speech acknowledges some of the ideas we explore throughout this episode:

“The communities most affected by our sustainable industry decisions are Black and Brown communities, yet they are not afforded the right to take part in the decision making process. It is the White privileged, resourced and elite groups who dictate the climate of fashion – now and for the future. When we’re referring to the current climate of sustainable fashion and bringing the topic of visibility to media, we’re faced with the over saturation at the moment of words like diversity - now is the time to acknowledge how powerful language is in communicating messages. I think we need to consider the fact that the term diversity in its very nature can be quite tokenistic.”

Why *diversity* is tokenistic and retail training people from refugee & new migrant communities at The Social Outfit

Quotes & links from the conversation:

This week's episode is sponsored by Ana Luisa, the first direct-to-consumer jewelry brand to become carbon-neutral.

If you’re interested in checking out Ana Luisa, you can use code CHATTER to get 10% off.

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