Photographer Lindsay Rae: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society
Get rid of corporate and school dress codes. If companies can hire professionals, they should trust the professionals to dress themselves appropriately. Dress codes far more often target women and minority women.
As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Lindsay Rae.
Internationally published and multi-award winning photographer, including First Place Professional Boudoir for RangeFinders first Celebrate the Body, Lindsay owns and operates Self Love Experience out of Troy, NY. Lindsay’s work has been published in The Times Union, Shutterbug Magazine, Period Magazine, Voltron Magazine, Philosophie Magazine, Surreal Beauty Magazine, Ellements Magazine and LiBAREator Magazine and many more. With a focus on helping women overcome negative body image and body insecurity, her sessions are as much about the experience she gives her clients as the final art they receive.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I’ve had quite the journey. I moved to New York city when I was 19 with two suitcases, $1,800 and a hope and a dream trying to be on Broadway. I left behind an abusive father and a family struggling on welfare to chase my dreams. I was young and alone. When they say if you can make it there you can make it anywhere, there is a reason. NYC is not for the faint of heart. I moved to the city to go to an acting conservatory for acting on camera. So my experience really began on the other side of the lens.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell.
I read this book when I was 21 years old and a junior agent working for a small D-List entertainment management firm. I remember it sat so deeply with me because it gave hope. The hope that everyone and everything has a tipping point. That if I kept my eyes and ears open wide enough, I would be able to see and find those moments. I believe this book is why I am always so open to opportunities and will ride the wave and do the work when I see an idea begin to “tip”.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
In high-school we had a Theatre teaching intern named Mr. Bowie. He had a saying “If you look good you feel good. If you feel good you do good.”
He reminded me that I could always at least control one thing: How I make MYSELF feel.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
This quote from Jay Z is my favorite. I listen to this every day on my way into work:
🎵🎶 “Everybody’s bosses ’til it’s time to pay for the office
’Til them invoices separate the men from the boys, over here
We measure success by how many people successful next to you
Here we say you broke if everybody gets broke except for you
To me a leader means someone who is equally concerned with seeing the success of others on the same mission.
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
I start my day the same every day. I wake up an hour early and I pop in the car, and I go for a drive down the back roads of upstate NY with a super bougie Starbucks order (venti latte, half decaf, almond milk and 2.5 pumps each Toffee Nut and Vanilla for those wondering.) I listen to music about success and I do vision work. To me vision work can be as detailed as imagining what outfit I might wear on stage to what the newspaper smells like the day I pick it up with my story in it.
If you can envision yourself somewhere, you can believe yourself there. If you can believe in yourself — you are unstoppable.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
I believe we as a country just escaped a 4 year abusive relationship. The politics of the past 4 years have emboldened hate, racism, and bigotry. Where we should have been proud to have an outspoken president, we lived in shame of a leader who lived to divide rather than unite.
I don’t recall where I first saw this quote, but I have it saved on my phone and reference it when needed to make this exact point:
“Pick a leader who will not only bail out banks and airlines, but also families from losing their homes — or jobs due to their companies moving to other countries. Pick a leader who will fund schools, not limit spending on education and allow libraries to close. Pick a leader who chooses diplomacy over war. An honest broker in foreign relations. A leader with integrity, one who says what they mean, keeps their word and does not lie to their people. Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble. Intelligent, but not sly. A leader who encourages diversity, not racism. One who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the doctor, and the environmentalist — not only the banker, the oil tycoon, the weapons developer, or the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyist.” — Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?
One of my favorite projects to date was working with the YWCA on their Butterfly Effect project. A woman’s empowerment series. YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Inc. is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. YWCA-GCR is committed to advocating for systemic solutions and institutional change for disparities facing women and girls of color.
I have made it a major point in my business to connect and work with local organizations that promote inclusivity. From our home base I make sure our studio walls relay our message. The halls of our boutique and studio are adorned with art showcasing women of all shapes, sizes, races and stages of womanhood.
I firmly believe in the power of visibility and representation.
This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
Like a toddler stomping her feet, my mantra is REPRESENTATION MATTERS. Body Image directly ties into corporate culture because if a person feels safe and secure in their body and not guarded from predatory (or racist/bigoted) behavior they can perform their executive function more efficiently.
As the Notorious RBG says “women belong wherever decisions are made.” This means as women we require safe, respectful and inclusive workspaces so our voices can continue to be where they count most.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
Step 1 — Get rid of corporate and school dress codes. If companies can hire professionals, they should trust the professionals to dress themselves appropriately. Dress codes far more often target women and minority women.
Step 2 — Representation matters! This ties directly into step 1. No more I can’t see color. Black women we see you, we honor you, we thank you. We hear stories from clients about not being able to do something as simple as wearing their hair naturally without being penalized or judged.
Step 3 — BODY IMAGE ACCEPTANCE INCLUDES ALL BODIES AND ALL SKIN COLORS. We need to see more diversity in media, leadership, and art. When we see others who look like us our comparison monster is tamed. The better you feel in your skin the better you move through the world.
Step 4 — Refer to people as they want to be referred to. Build habits of referring to your colleagues, friends and families by their pronouns. It is an easy kindness to bestow upon someone that shows a value in their humanity. Make a habit of asking someone their pronouns if they have not directly shared with you. Simple adjustments can also be made on a corporate and government level by adding additional pronoun options to official paperwork.
Step 5 — Shop Black, buy local and buy woman owned at least once a month! Make an effort to diversify where you spend! Your money is louder than any words, so speak with it. Invest in diversity! Where you could easily walk into a Macys instead go to a Black Woman owned boutique and support her. Tell others about her. When we support each other locally we strengthen our communities. This cultivates a strong community that is a breeding ground for a stronger local economy.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
I believe in the grit and grace of the American people. When you have photographed as many women as I have from all different backgrounds you get a good sampling of political, religious and financial backgrounds….the overarching commonality is that we all agree on one thing.
We are overrun by propaganda that tells us we are not good enough.
Society tells us that we have to fit into this tiny narrow minded mold of what is considered beautiful. It is a tough stigma to fight, but an adversary we all have in common.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Kamala Harris! I have “I’m speaking.” tattooed on my forearm from her debate.
Actually — a double date with Kamala, Douglas, and my own supportive partner, Mike. I think Mr. Emhoff is doing incredible things for feminism.
By so humbly silencing his haters and lifting up his beautiful, talented, courageous wife Douglas Emhoff is setting a new standard for men and a new example for what it looks like to be truly pro-woman!
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!