Carnival: Why Don't Bands Cater For Us All?
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Carnival: Why Don’t Bands Cater For Us All?

Oh gosh! Where do we start with this one! As bands are preparing and launching for the 2020 carnival season, we see the same issues arising. Now this is a topic we feel we shouldn’t have to speak on, however we are seeing the same thing year in year out…so let’s get into it.

Carnival: Why Don't Bands Cater For Us All?

The Band launches. Something that we all look forward to, especially if you know you intend to participate in that particular carnival. Bands produce gorgeous costumes but the issue we have is with the models chosen. Of course, the models are always stunning. However, bands seem to be using the same type of models, in terms of skin tone and body type. So when looking to choose your costume if you see nobody that looks like you, it makes it very difficult to picture yourself in said costume. Now even if you’re able to see past this and pick your favourite costume you then enter the online application process and realise that your size isn’t even listed.

Many would give up at this point but some are undeterred and take it upon themselves to message or contact the band to see if there is a way to request or input your required size. We can speak from particular instance a few days ago, where a customer was told that the section they wished to play mas in was not available in their particular bra size and that they should choose a different section. The customer went back to the website, looked through ALL sections and found that their bra size was not available in any of the sections. So, does that mean then that this person is not able to play mas with this band at all?

This is just one instance, but we know this happens all the time. It’s disappointing to say the least. Not only are you forgotten at band launch, but it seems you’re not invited to be a part of the band at all. We rarely see women with darker skin tones or curvier body types represented and catered for at band launches or even for costumes in general. However, when you hit the road for carnival we see women of all colours, sizes, shapes and age enjoying and playing mas. So how is it that there is such a misrepresentation at the band launch stage?

 

Now let’s move to after carnival, Instagram now has a huge part to play in the depiction of carnival. So, it’s a shame that we see the exact same misrepresentation.  Of course, we see pictures of beautiful women and we don’t wish to knock these women, however it’s clear to see that these women all have something in common. They’re around the same age, have the same hourglass figure and skin tones remain in the same sort of range. So, as someone new to carnival wanting to get involved and from band launch to after carnival you saw the same type of image, which you didn’t feel you fit into, wouldn’t that make you weary of getting involved? But of course, those who are seasoned masqueraders know that this is a huge misrepresentation of carnival.

Okay, so we spoke about the issues women face when it comes to carnival and costumes but what about the men. To be honest many bands don’t have costume sections for men at all! Instead men are forced to just simply buy a T-shirt package (maybe T-shirt and shorts if they’re lucky) at extortionate prices. How is this fair? So men shouldn’t play mas? Bands that do have male sections seem to lack the same creativity and energy put into female sections. Men are treated like a side of accessory, just an afterthought but yet there’re plenty of males who enjoy and would like to play mas. So why are they not catered for?

 

We have fought and continue to fight to be included in so many aspects of life. We are fighting for Soca to be recognised as a genre. We are quick to voice our disgust when make-up brands don’t cater for a diverse range of skin tones. We are outraged when the media or clothing brands don’t include us in their marketing. But yet when it comes to carnival, our culture, something we are so passionate about, something many of the islands are becoming known for, we don’t exercise the same inclusivity we fight for elsewhere. Make this make sense.

Carnival: Why Don't Bands Cater For Us All?
Carnival: Why Don't Bands Cater For Us All?

When we at Caribbean1st attend carnival, we make a point of capturing the true essence of carnival. Many photographers seem to tend towards the same type of people and the rest of us have to beg to be photographed. It’s not hard to capture the beauty of carnival. We look for gorgeous masqueraders having fun. It’s as simple as that, because trust me there is an abundance and they come in all genders, shapes and skin tones!

Wouldn’t it be nice if when we saw all-inclusive, we didn’t just think about the food and drinks but that we are all catered for and all included? There are so many Instagram pages which pretend to be showing the world what carnival is like, but we see the same type of images over and over. Maybe now with the removal of likes on Instagram these pages will stop being so fickle and give a true representation of the beauty of carnival.

There are so many more factors and points we can make about this topic, but we think you get the picture. Let’s not put all bands in one pot, there are a few who ensure that they cater for everyone, sadly they are few and far between. It may be biased of us to say, but we think UK-based carnival bands are probably some of the best at inclusivity, maybe because it’s something we are so aware of, so we make a special effort to ensure that that we cater for all. Inclusivity Is something that really needs to be addressed within the carnival community and quickly. Let us know your thoughts on this one, maybe if we start the discussion, those that need to hear will begin to listen and start making the necessary changes.

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