The lack of true representation in the media of women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and identities is glaringly obvious. While the beauty and fashion industries have come on leaps and bounds in recent years, there is still a long way to go to ensure all women feel represented — and Dove's new #ShowUs campaign is starting by targeting the way women are represented in the media.
Dove has undertaken a survey of women which found that 70 percent of them still do not feel represented in the media and in advertising. This lack of representation can in turn boost stereotypes and cause many to experience limitations and to feel excluded. This can in turn affect a woman's health, relationships, and the opportunities they are given.
It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that 67% of women are calling for brands to step up and start taking responsibility for the stock imagery they use. The clear lack of diverse imagery offered by image websites that media outlets use is a real issue, and one that Dove is determined to face head on.
The need for more diverse imagery is reflected in a recent surge in search terms on Getty images, where there has been an increase of 192% searching the term "real people" in the past year, and a 168% increase in the term "diverse women."
This is why Dove has partnered with Getty Images, Girlgaze (a network of 200,000 female and non-binary creatives from all around the world), and inspirational women around the world, to create the #ShowUs library of 5000 images that represent a more diverse picture of womanhood.
This incredible new project has taken a year to put together, and features the work of 116 Girlgaze photographers. The imagery shot represents a global community of women and non-binary people. The images are shot from 39 countries across the world (and counting), and are not Photoshopped in any kind.
What's more, every individual who has been photographed has personally defined their own search descriptions and tags for their images, allowing them to define their beauty on their own terms.
Professor Phillippa Diedrichs, body image expert at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England, explained why this project is such an important one:
“On a daily basis, women and girls face a relentless stream of media images displaying narrow, unrealistic, and outdated portrayals of beauty and what it means to be a woman. Several decades of scientific research shows that exposure to these images has a negative impact on women’s and girls’ body confidence and beliefs about what they are capable of."
She continued: "Further, when women and girls experience body dissatisfaction, they experience negative consequences across key areas of their lives, including their health and well-being, their relationships, and their aspirations in education and work settings. On the other hand, displaying diverse and realistic portrayals of women’s bodies, like the images in Project #ShowUs, leads to improved body confidence.”
Amanda de Cadenet, Founder and CEO of Girlgaze, also commented:
“Project #ShowUs is a game changing initiative, as we know when there’s more diversity behind the lens, there is more diversity in front of it. Generated through our jobs platform; the Girlgaze Network, by our global community of female-identifying and non-binary photographers, we are proud to have hired over 300 creatives to create images that truthfully depict female beauty—and in doing so, are also one step closer to closing the gender gap and centering inclusive beauty.”
As a person in the media, I for one, cannot wait to use the amazing imagery from the #ShowUs library.