We know you’ve seen it too. You go to a yoga class, a wellbeing workshop, or panel talk on mental health, and the demographics of teachers, speakers and attendees is largely very similar – white, slim, young, able-bodied. Right?
Ellie Jade Cousins is a trained Life Coach, Freelance Photographer and Mental Health Advocate.
She predominantly works 1:1 with coaching and photography clients on Ellie Jade Photography but also delivers workshops and has worked with larger companies and brands.
Her primary goal in all aspects of her work is to facilitate positive change and make a social impact whether that is on an individual, community or societal level, as well as supporting her clients to have their own impact in the world.
Ellie dedicates a proportion of her time and income to creative projects and campaigns like ‘This Is Wellbeing’ and is always looking for new challenges and opportunities involving creativity, health, wellbeing and self-development.
‘This Is Wellbeing’ is a photography series for diversity and inclusion in health, fitness and wellbeing.
I’m Ellie and I personally fit that stereotype to a T. I rarely feel out of place, uncomfortable, or unwelcome in the spaces mentioned above because of my appearance or background. However, this sadly isn’t the case for so many and the visual messaging around the health, fitness and wellbeing industries is a huge factor in this. If people can’t see themselves represented in a space, how are they supposed to feel welcome in it?
We only need to look at the statistics to see that people in underrepresented or minority groups are some of the most likely to suffer from mental health issues or feel a lack of ‘belonging’*.
So it becomes, in a way, even more, shocking that the very industry shown to be hugely beneficial to those who are struggling with mental health, amongst other issues, isn’t as accessible to them as it is to those of us who do fit the stereotype.
This Is Wellbeing
This photography series campaign, called ‘This Is Wellbeing’, aims to promote more diversity and inclusion in health, wellbeing and fitness by changing the visual messaging around it and hearing from those who do represent diversity in the industry, and also aims to show that it shouldn’t only be those who feel underrepresented themselves that discuss these issues and take action to change them (even if that means making mistakes along the way).
Through putting this campaign together, I have had the opportunity to meet and photograph some incredible people from all walks of life who represent diversity in health, fitness and wellbeing.
As many people as possible should see and hear from them in order to understand what this industry is truly about, how it has impacted their lives, and also how we can all work on improving it.
Below are just a few of these individuals with snippets of what they had to say.
Dianne Bondy, social justice activist, author, accessible yoga teacher, and the leader of the ‘Yoga For All’ movement, said: “Yoga has become a practice reserved exclusively for the privileged few: wealthy, thin, young, flexible, white and able-bodied. But yoga benefits all bodies, regardless of their shape, size, age, ethnicity or ability. It’s time that yoga is made available to anyone who wishes to practice.”
Find her on Instagram as @diannebondyyoga
Hannah Wallace, speaker, podcaster, writer and diversity model represented by Zebedee Management, said:
“I believe with a passion that we need to showcase all forms of diversity and not be afraid of difference in the wellness world. We need to knock its perfect shiny edges off and inspire people that different is good and show that we are all represented (and not just in a token way).”
Find Hannah at @hannah_wallace11 on Instagram and listen to her Podcast ‘Finding Grace’ on all major platforms.
Saima Majid, a Transformational Coach, Holistic Personal Trainer and Social Activist in the industry said, “health and wellbeing are living my truth and my true essence. This means feeling vivacious, grounded, authentic and happy to be alive.”
She adds that “Things are very slowly changing in the health and wellness space, but we still have a long way to go. Living in the UK and therefore amongst a hugely diverse demographic of people, I would like the health and wellness space to encompass elements from all of these incredible cultures. Not only is this better for our health but also the unity of humanity.”
Find Saima at @saimamajid.uk on Instagram.
To see the full ‘This Is Wellbeing’ campaign and photo series, please click here and check out Ellie on her personal Instagram, her photography account or online. The campaign officially launches on January 29th.