Part of the Process
If you follow VC Ultimate, you’ve seen this hashtag all over the place, and there’s a reason for that. For us, striving to be #OnlyTheBest is threefold:
- We endeavor to create the highest quality of apparel possible.
- We take great pride in maintaining our great customer service and stand by our product.
- We work hard at being involved in and supporting our community.
The latter is what we want to talk about today. A large aspect of community involvement includes educating ourselves so we’re able to continuously push the barriers set by society in hopes of contributing to the building of a more inclusive and equitable community. And while we believe we do a good job at this, we sometimes hit a snag.
Today, in thinking about a campaign for the upcoming WFDF World Club Championships, we hit one of those snags.
One of the questions we try to answer with all our advertising is “who is ultimate?” We want people from all over the world, no matter the gender, nationality, race, background, etc, to be able to see themselves in our gear and as part of the community we aspire to represent. So we came up with a great idea to help communicate and showcase the fact that we see all members of our community as equal and that we don’t care what you look like, your size, your gender, or what your racial or socioeconomic background is. We value everybody.
Our idea was to create a call for models for WUCC where players from our community would be invited to send us a short essay telling us their ultimate story and why they should be a VC model. No photo was to be sent with the submission and we would ask players not to tell us their gender, race, etc.. We believed this would ultimately lead to a mosaic of personalities and nationalities which would fit VC’s values perfectly. Genius, right?? Maybe not.
Adriana, our leader here at VC, was having dinner with a friend, who happens to be a photographer/campaigner manager in NYC. During their meal, our model campaign came up and her friend asked a question that knocked us off our pedestal: without seeing photos, how can we ensure a wide range of genders and ethnicities?
Huh. I guess we don’t know everything. But she’s right—how do we make sure that intrinsic bias isn’t inherent in our selections when we review the essays? We want to represent how diverse the ultimate community is, but if, for example, we choose ten white straight males based on liking their stories, haven’t we failed?
What about the fact that so many of the players competing at WUCC don’t come from English-speaking countries… have we excluded them?
Pushing the boundaries of society isn’t easy; you can’t just come up with an idea that you think is great without considering the perspective, and often privileged lense, through which you’ve thought. But it’s these types of puzzles that make us love what we do. By trying to look at this problem from every angle, we are learning about the tools necessary to incite change and growth not only as a community but as individuals.
The call for models will go on once we’ve considered community feedback and tweaked it to make sense for as large an audience as we possibly can, and be as fair an initiative as we can make it. Creating projects and initiatives that provoke worthwhile change isn’t easy and we expect to come face-to-face with puzzles that will make us want to move-on or give-up. But we promise you that the team at VC won’t. We know it’s important to face these puzzles head on and use them as tools to grow and learn, because at the end of the day, it’s all part of the process.
As always, your feedback and contributions are not only welcome, but encouraged and very much appreciated. Help us be #OnlyTheBest