Every person wants to be a part of something to a degree. It could be work related, a project, a group of friends, you name it. According to Abraham Maslow's “Hierarchy of Needs,” belonging somewhere is ranked the third-most important need. However, some people, due to their circumstances, are required to fight harder for the right to belong somewhere. I want to share my own thoughts on the matter of inclusivity.
As a noun, inclusivity is described as: ''The practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups. “Since I was born with a disease called SMA 2, I certainly know the feeling of being judged based on my disability, rather than my performance. I fight every day to conquer my circumstances. It is a journey that, in the end, must be done on my own. However, having that guiding support from the people I love certainly makes it easier. That is exactly why having the inclusivity-mindset is important. Everyone deserves to feel included in some way. To grow is good. To grow together is better. Sometimes in life we get stuck. Whether it is a project, a relationship, or simply a life issue, it will happen to us. But by hearing the voices of those who are rarely heard, new ideas might spring to life. Another important part of inclusivity, according to me, is not about including people just because they are different. It is about giving everyone a chance to prove what many of us already know: we are capable, let us show it.
The biggest enemy of inclusivity is preconception. ''He can barely lift a glass of water; how could he possibly write fast enough on a keyboard to work here?'' Well, given the chance, I could probably out-type most people. Or not. We won't find out till we try right? That is excactly why we need inclusivity. For a business to have the best chance to thrive, the best people need to be involved. And the best comes in different shapes. Everyone needs to be tested so that the most suitable for the role can be chosen. Everyone. I guess what I'm trying to say is that every person has value. That value may not always be visible to us, but, trust me, it will be shown and it will be worth it. In the end, life is kind of like a war. We win some battles, we lose some. In a war, the smarter leader would want to hear out as many strategies as possible in order to assess the best way to win.
Now I don't believe that we can fully include everyone in every department. If we are talking about disabilites and school, I would say that there certainly are cases where people would benefit more from having special education, depending on the severity of the disability. I do, however, believe that it is important to have that person interact a lot with his or her fellow ''normal'' classmates, and should they to every extent possible be a part of a “normal” class as much as possible. The social benefits the person in question receives are very valuable. The classmates also learn, hopefully as early as possible, that some people are different, and that's okay. This knowledge will be useful later on in life, both on the professional and personal fronts.
I practice inclusivity in the way that I am open to hearing anyone out. I might not agree on everything, but that is how it should be. The point is that I listen, and then I make a verdict. It’s not the other way around. By writing this article I am not urging you to stop judging. That will never happen. However, it's wise to take a step back and realize that everything is not always as it seems. We need to hear everyone out and then make a decision. Although the emphasis of this article has been about disability and inclusivity, my thoughts on this are the same regarding all minority groups. Circumstances should not matter at this stage of our civilization. Talent might lie where we least expect it.
Recently, I've been very invested in the world of menswear. I have always felt, and still feel, like the world is in need of a voice in menswear that is different from the rest – a fresh voice on today’s fashion. All day we are bombarded with ''perfect'' men who wear suits and, yes, they wear them well.
However, I want to demonstrate that it doesn't really matter what your circumstances are; one can still dress well without having to feel the pressure of not ''belonging'' in one’s own clothes. I, for one, love wearing suits, as it empowers me and brings me joy. That is the ultimate goal right? Wear what brings you joy, regardless of the opinion of others. That is why I started my Instagram page @mrlevino, to build awareness. Elegance comes in different shapes, and I aim to show it.
There is honestly a lot to say about this topic, and these are just my personal thoughts on some of it. I hope you enjoyed the read.
About the Author:
Emil Levin is a 24-year-old fashion influencer and co-founder of the Helvin watch company. In 2019, he was tapped by luxury mens wear textile maker Lanificio Cerruti for their “Six for Six” campaign. Levin was born with a rare spinal muscular atrophy called SMA2. A native of Sweden, he studied international relations and continues to champion inclusivity through fashion.