One day, I was asked to do an illustration of a chef, the head of the kitchen. I began by doing what I always do before illustrating: compiling references. I found out that about 8 out of 10 illustrations of chefs where white men! No surprise then, that we still live in a world where men occupy more positions of power. What then about Paula Deen, Julia Child and Rachel Ray? There are certainly many successful and famous female chefs nowadays and in history.
It’s all about stereotypes.
Yes. Let’s make an exercise: we can ask people around to sketch out the first idea that comes to their minds when they think of a chef. They would most probably draw the stereotypical italian with a moustache. It’s not even our fault, I don’t blame us; we have been surrounded with stereotypes our whole lives!
Break the rules
I always try to be an activist, and in my own way, and of course, I had to break the pattern. I provided the client two versions of my chef. One was a caucasian woman, and the other one was a man with a dark complexion. What happened next, was on the clients hands, but at least I encouraged diversity with the tools that I had.
I am happy to see that more companies are striving for inclusiveness and diversity; one good example is Sketch with its new update:
“The Names and Faces data sources included in Sketch are ethnically diverse and have a 50/50 gender balance so your designs will no longer be populated with profiles for white guys called Chad or John” — Sketch
I’ve also noticed Invision’s vector illustrations, representing minorities and people with disabilities:
And in Latin America — take a look at Hulivida in Costa Rica!
Society is slowly shifting to being more inclusive, we’ve made good progress so far. I encourage you to reflect the values you hold and go ahead and break the stereotypes! Let’s use our design tools to create diverse representation in every day products, together.
If you like this topic, here is a more dense article about diversity in design: You Can’t Just Draw Purple People and Call it Diversity .