Series: Building Your Birth Business – Including Diversity in Images Used Professionally

diversity.jpgBirth professionals, especially childbirth educators, are often in need of effective images of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting to use in their educational presentations, childbirth class materials, on their websites and in the marketing materials that they use to promote their programs and businesses.  Many educators hit up the common stock photo websites to find what they might need.  We have covered this topic several times in various ways on Science & Sensibility - offering professionals some great resources for sourcing free or low-cost photos to legally use for a variety of purposes.

A good childbirth educator is regularly updating their material and looking for images that are current and relevant to today's parents.  And that includes today's parents of color.  These images are almost impossible to find.  Go to any stock photo site and put in "pregnant woman" and check out the results.  Thumbnails of white women show up in hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  Where are the Black pregnant people?  The Latina mother?  Why are their images not mixed in with all these white pregnant people? Even if you make the effort to search "Black pregnant woman" on these sites, the search still returns almost all pregnant white women.  It really starts to become disturbing. There is an apparent and unfortunate lack of diversity in the images available to those of us who very much want to include people of color in our work.

Screenshot 2017-07-12 17.15.31.jpg

When we are working with expectant families, it is important for people to see themselves in our materials.  Teens like to see other teen parents, queer families want to see themselves represented and of course, people of color want images of someone other than a white woman.  A representative sample of all the different ways that people and families exist is a key component to welcoming all families.

Several companies are beginning to do something about the lack of images of people of color that are available to purchase.  Nascent ventures are launching all over with the clear purpose of collating and offering images of people of color for people to purchase.  An opportunity to select images that are both high quality and beautifully diverse.

black breastfeeding mother baby.jpegWhile the options for finding pregnant, birthing or parenting images of people of color are still on the low side on these sites, I know as the collections grow, the kind of images that birth professionals will find most useful will become more ubiquitous.  In the meantime, I am writing to the companies and letting them know that there is a demand for this type of image and asking them to consider increasing their offerings.  Letting them know that people are interested will hopefully help speed up the acquisition process.

Check out these websites that offer images that focus on people of color and some specifically just women of color.  See if they have anything that you will find useful in your work.  Let them know what you need, if you are not finding the types of images you would find useful.

When you are next creating new presentations, websites, or marketing material, or even updating ones that already exist, please consider including images of people with all different kinds of skin color.  Make an effort to go out of your way to acquire and use images of people of color.  Creating welcoming online and print material that reflects diversity is important and the right thing to do.

Do you have some great sources of images that you regularly access that includes a diverse set of families?  Can you share your sources in our comments section so that we can all benefit from your knowledge?


posters reflecting diversity

July 13, 2017 01:36 PM by Barbara Martin

I had the pleasure of partnering with a community based perinatal program in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and they have a developed a wonderful portfolio of posters reflecting our community diversity and healthy messages for both prenatal and postnatal stages.  Many are photos of women/children/families who attend the programs.

Thanks Barbara!

July 17, 2017 04:31 AM by Sharon Muza, BS, LCCE, FACCE, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), CLE

Thank you for sharing that resource with us Barbara!

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