One of my goals for this year is to stop using gender specific pronouns in group settings. I’m still working on it. It’s challenging, but whatever weak minded excuse you can put here to pardon our comfortable ignorance simply isn’t a good enough reason to ignore people’s identities. Plus for me personally, there’s like this weird voice that comes naturally when I start filming content that makes the phrase “hey guys” sound worse than it already does. No bueno.
As we celebrate PRIDE MONTH and the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, It’s my responsibility to encourage active alley and creating inclusive environments, especially in this little corner of the internet. So I took the liberty of making this handy little list of alternative and inclusive pronouns in hopes we can all continue to grow and be the best advocates for EVERYONE (see what I did there), not only during PRIDE, but each and every day.
*Friendly reminder: These are strictly for group settings. When interacting on a personal level, I encourage you to seek out the individuals name and preferred pronoun and address the person as such.
Everybody / Everyone
Folks / Folx
Yall / You all / We all
All Yall / All of you / Each of you
Yinz (if you’re in/from Pittsburgh)
‘N them (followers n them)
Any appropriate adjective with the word people (Party people, Beautiful people, Good people)
Beings that aren’t defined by social constructs like pronouns—haha!
Food names (Pumpkins, Muffins, Cupcakes, etc.)
So now that we have a starter list of alternative and inclusive group pronouns, let’s put them to practice! Look for opportunities to use these words and build a habit of inclusive language. Like I said before, no excuses!
Catharyn Burton is a Pittsburgh treasure. Her knack for creative expression and director skills combined with her perspective of the industry as a woman of color, makes for a series of truly unique experiences from fashion shows to photo exhibits. Catharyn, or Cat as she prefers, uses her talents to curate, recruit for, and direct creative projects that go against the grain in an industry that thrives on being in trend.
Originally from Erie, PA she made her way to Pittsburgh after acquiring a degree in integrated marketing from Slippery Rock University. While at SRU, Cat was involved with many of the multicultural organizations, and helped them create a variety of successful events.
As a model and WOC, she’s experienced first hand the lack of diversity in the industry and how it’s affected her career. “My biggest struggle has been hair stylists not knowing how to “handle” my hair. I have gone to multiple sets for either print or runway where a majority of the models are assigned to get their hair done and the stylist is told to just leave mine as is.”
Experiences like these prompted Cat to create space to highlight concepts and ideas from other creatives whose perspectives are often overlooked.
Styled by Example and Reclaimed Roles
Cat’s most recent projects are a fashion show which debuted back in March called Styled by Example, and a photo exhibit collaborated with several creatives in Pittsburgh, including MUA Martayla (@martymoment), stylist Alia (@aliassemakula), and photographer Joe Lowrey (@joelowreyphoto), called Reclaimed Roles.
“Styled by Example was created to celebrate Women’s History Month. I originally created it as an event at Slippery Rock University and wanted to showcase it to a larger audience,” Cat explains. The show highlighted women’s fashion trends from the 1920’s through today and each decade had its own stylist. Each stylist was able to curate their section, by choosing the music represented from their specified decade and creating a title for their section. Cat says she has already started planning for a bigger and better 2020 show as she hopes to, “progress Styled by Example into a brand that develops creative concepts and events.”
Reclaimed Roles: Kill Bill (left) and The Sound of Music (right) photographed by Joe Lowrey
Reclaimed Roles is Cat’s most recent project and is a series of photos recreated from popular movies with one key difference.
“I had originally reached out to Joe about doing a shoot recreating Alice in Wonderland at Randyland,” Cat explains. “That being the original shoot concept, I chose to work with a group of models that I already knew, and all were women of color. From the success of that shoot Joe and I decided to start doing more shoots recreating movie concepts with minorities portraying the traditionally white roles.”
The goal of the exhibit was to highlight the lack of minority representation in the media industry. Aside from the already mentioned, Cat and Joe recreated scenes from A Christmas Carol, Kill Bill, The Matrix, The Sound of Music, and The Blues Brothers. The inspiration for the movies they chose came from movies Cat grew up on.
All in all, Cat is shaking up the industry with no intent to stop. She wants to change the narrative of the industry to be more inclusive all around. “I would love to get to a point where models with natural hair can walk on to any set and stylists have the knowledge and comfort level to just do their hair.” Her advice to others with the same mission is to collaborate. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in order to collaborate. There are a lot more people out their willing to help each other grow than I think people realize.”