The Neglected Middle Ground
Imagine a line in front of you that represents the spectrum of diversity in advertisement. On one end of that line we have the “ideal” Caucasian: Straight blonde hair, blue eyes, young, thin, and with clear skin. On the other end we have anything that can be considered as different from that as humanly possible.
Most people in Toronto, naturally, don’t hit the far ends of this spectrum, they more sit in the middle of it. But recently, ads in Toronto (in response to the demand for more diversity in public media) have begun jumping all the way to the other extreme in their representation, primarily featuring models with incredibly dark skin, models with prosthetics, models who are little people, models with highly visible skin/hair/eye conditions, etc. While these extremes are still people that need to be included, they make up a very small percentage of the population, which means that instead of actually representing the general population of Toronto, which for the sake of this argument I’ll say is 80% of us, companies seem to be skipping over us to the other 10% of the spectrum to get the benefits of what is essentially shock value while doing the least amount of work possible.
The Neglected Middle Ground is an accurate cross-section of Toronto’s population according to race, gender, and age (sourced from various 2022 Toronto census data), with each person representing 1% of the population. All of the “models” were photographed as they truly are, with no special camera, lighting, or modifications to their appearance. With this piece, I hope to illustrate that even though we “seem” to have moved on, the portion of people we see in advertising is still dwarfed by the neglected people of the middle ground. Those of us who don’t look “crazy different”, but who make up the majority of our city.
Zaida-Joy Aurelius is a Canadian Filmmaker and Voice Actor with a great interest in cultural and culturally-related art. Being Bilingual (speaking English and French) and working her way to Trilingual (with Chinese Mandarin), she loves learning about the history and life experiences of people all over the globe. Especially living in the current “Most Multicultural City in the World”, Zaida-Joy wants to take advantage of the “Push for Diversity” she’s noticed coming from all areas of life in recent years, and she hopes that her art can always be a force that connects, and connects with people from many different backgrounds.