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Where are all the Fat Creative Directors? A Candid Conversation with Vox Creative's Laura Delarato
Where are all the Fat Creative Directors? A Candid Conversation with Vox Creative's Laura Delarato
by Amanda Jaquin
The Luupe speaks with the influential writer, creative director, and "Bronx-born weirdo" about her work, new book, how to beat creative burnout, and building accessible and inclusive visual culture.
Laura Delarato says she "has a 9-5 as a creative director and a 5-9 as a writer/sexual wellness + body image advocate." Her 9-5 work as Vox Creative's creative director brings a fresh perspective to branded content — tackling relevant issues from the sexual pleasure gap to financial literacy and abuse while pushing storytelling boundaries (like reinventing the recipe video as an ode to the "meet cute.")
While creative roles are becoming more racially, culturally and gender diverse, there's still a lack of fat bodies in these spaces – a gap and opportunity for better body representation. Delarato - one of our go-to experts on travel, sex, body image...and pasta – offers sharp and funny insights on where and how this might change.
Meet Laura Delarato
The Luupe: OK - so, starting with the obvious and potentially unanswerable question: why are there so few fat creative directors?
Laura Delarato: I wish I knew the exact answer as to why we often don’t see many fat creative directors because it’s a real shame. It’s an entire demographic that knows how to creatively navigate every circumstance in order to simply exist. If I was to guesstimate, it’s because there is already such a disregard for fat employees with lower access to raises, hirings, proper work attire (pending on the field).
So, of course we don’t see many fat creatives because that would require all of us, especially people with hiring power, to challenge our internal bias around fatness and its unfair and inaccurate associations to laziness.
The Luupe: We led with the absence... but on the flip side, who is making headway and inspiring you right now?
Delarato: We might not be in the same type of creative, but I’m always thrilled to see what Kelly Augustine is doing in the style/fashion space. I have met so many stylists who refuse to style plus-size models because it’s too difficult. Kelly’s work proves that it’s not only possible, it’s profitable.
The Luupe: "Body positivity" has become quite a buzzword over the past few years. What are brands getting right?
Delarato: Body positivity is such a loaded term — there is no way any one person can be positive about their body every single day! This is where brands can come in and help their audience navigate the back and forth of good and bad body image days.
The Luupe: Where do brands have room to grow?
Delarato: Any brand with an XL or XXL on their site that claims to be size inclusive. Any brand who touts size 8-14 models across their advertising with the hope that we all won’t notice this blatant disregard for how they use size-acceptability in their marketing. Do better.
One of the lead graphics for Laura + Vox Creative's partnershup with The Allstate Foundation and Hello Sunshine. Laura creaitve directed a voice-amplifying creative platform to bring awareness and tools to survivors of financial and domestic abuse
The Luupe: Getting into your own work: what are some recent brand projects that you are particularly excited about?
Delarato: Ohhh! Some are under wraps right now as we head into launch! But over the last year, I was so excited to be the creative director on a program with The Allstate Foundation, Hello Sunshine, and of course my team at Vox Creative where we built a resource collection dedicated to raising financial abuse awareness.
I have the coolest 9-5 job where I not only get to build out a creative vision with an incredible team, I get to make change using that vision. But of course, sometimes I get to write really silly ideas like this three-part romantic comedy for Cointreau: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3. Here, my team really kicked it up a notch and found a way to incorporate drink recipes into a narrative story.
The Luupe: How does your work with VOX overlap, intersect or stand apart from your work as a writer and "thought leader"?
Delarato: I like to say that I have a 9-5 as a creative director and a 5-9 as a writer/sexual wellness + body image advocate, but at the end of the day, I’m just a weirdo with human experiences that takes from what I know and applies them to all my work.
My 5-9 work allows me to have honest conversations with clients about creative, and my 9-5 work helps me advocate for myself, my creative, my writing when discussing freelance rates or concepts. While they both don’t live in the same world, they are great teammates to each other.
The Luupe: What are you optimistic about right now re: representation etc? What's keeping you going?
Delarato:Truly, madly, deeply . . . this is going to sound very vintage millennial of me. I’m excited for TikTok. Sure, it’s a wild place with problematic paths and some over-reaching internet controversies where I’m like, “You’re cool with having this public brawl?”
But, never have I ever seen more access to different people, bodies, experiences all under one platform. Maybe this . . . this weird app that I have lost time in . . . will be the key to a more inclusive future.
The Luupe: As a fairly new startup figuring out our own culture at The Luupe, we talk a LOT about creative burnout. How does this show up in your day-to-day?
Delarato: Oh my goodness, when does it not show up?! Burnout, like pain, like sadness, like hunger, is another cue from our bodies telling us we need something.
For me, burnout feels like being dragged down by my brain, as if it's so tired all I can do is close my eyes. After I wrote my book, I spent almost a year feeling this brain fog. Almost like my brain needed to go on vacation.
But, of course, it can’t because my job requires my brain outside of writing a book. So, I tried to be easy on myself and not push myself too hard to do 5-9 work in that time, and just let opportunities come naturally to me instead of forcing anything. And I would take long walks and listen to my favorite 90s playlists . . . my healing certainly has a music era it gravitates towards.
The Luupe: Amazing. We are definitely going to take a cue from this! Have you seen Google’s “Plus Size Insights for Marketers” report with NAAFA?
Delarato: I need to dive deeper into it, but I think it’s a great idea. Images stay with us, and if none of the images are of us, then how do we see ourselves? How do we see our potential?
In every position I’ve ever taken, I have worked with internal teams to create style guides, resources, branding notes on how to represent plus-size people — this report, at face value, gives me some hope that there are more of me out there trying to do the same with internal systems for outward executions.
The Luupe: We heard somewhere that you’re taking a photography class. What inspired you to start working with photography? And how does it feel to be telling stories in this capacity?
Delarato: I am! Even as a creative director, I’m certainly never going to say that I know how to do everything. Photography is something I have adjacent skills in from being a video producer, but don’t feel comfortable giving direction when I barely know the basics.
I’m sure others might disagree with me but CDs should have at least some semblance of how the makers make before giving notes. I will say, I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
I’m more apt to bring my very old Canon Rebel T2i out with me instead of relying on my iPhone. I have so much more appreciation for the art of photography and how one singular image can say so much. I want to start doing more photoshoots this year in my 9-5, and it can only help if I have some practice handling the camera.
The Luupe: Your new book, “My Pleasure: An Intimate Guide To Loving Your Body and Having Great Sex”, is an actionable and relatable handbook AND a work of art. How important was the visual design + user experience of the book in your writing process?
Delarato: Incredibly important! When that conversation happened, I did what I do with clients in my 9-5, I brought an extensive moodboard and creative point of view with me to describe how the art should also tell a story.
Sex and bodies is such a big topic with a lot of questions to ask, thoughts to ponder, boundaries to consider. I’ve always loved Amber Vittoria’s artwork. It really speaks to this transition/transferable experience of being human; blobby, gradient, colorful, spiky, unclear. I was thrilled to have her as the artist for this book because that humanity really comes across.
The Luupe: In your opinion, what is the role of creative directors in promoting sexual wellness brands/products for women + non-binary folks in a world where they’ve struggled to get their message out? (ie: Dame’s MTA campaign)
Delarato: I believe it is on creatives to push culture in a more accepting, more colorful, more open direction. It’s us who comes up with the vision, pulls references, casts, creates the narrative, so it’s on us to advocate for sex education/wellness/rights/consent/imagery, to not be afraid to have these conversations, and to say no when a client refuses to consider all forms of accessibility and inclusion.
The Luupe: Thanks so much for your time and generosity! Anything you'd like to close with?
Delarato: Me, Laura, a weirdo, has a high regard for sexual wellness, sex work, and sex education. I believe nudes are high art. I don’t believe sex is inappropriate. And it is these beliefs that have made incredible 9-5 work possible like this video about non-hormonal birth control I directed, or this amazing piece of branded content that I got to make with Bellesa.
Sex is the reason we have the internet, have phones, have Netflix (no seriously, I wrote my grad school thesis on porn and technology).
We as creative directors should be finding ways to get important messages out there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amanda Jaquin is The Luupe's brand experience manager at The Luupe where she brings energy and sparkle emojis to marketing, design, and community engagement. She lives in Buffalo, NY, hates pickles, loves solving puzzles, and has a million tabs open right now.