4 women on what representation means to them

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More often than not, the women we see in the media aren’t a fair representation of those we see in our everyday lives. We asked four women why that matters…

It’s a damning statistic that 72% of UK women still don’t feel represented in media and advertising.

While conversations around diversity are happening more than ever before, the likes of stock imagery are still trailing behind when it comes to true representation.

This is something that Dove are aiming to put right with Project #ShowUs.

Dove has teamed up with Girlgaze and Getty Images to create a truly diverse collection of more than 5,000 images.

The pictures are free of digital distortion and dedicated to overhauling tired beauty stereotypes to present us with true inclusivity.

To celebrate and highlight the importance of diversity, we asked four of the many women involved in the project what representation means to them…

  • 1. Seeing femininity without definition

    “To me, representation means femininity not being defined by having breasts,” says Juliet Fitzpatrick.

    “The lack of representation of women who are happy living flat after a mastectomy definitely had a big impact on me when I was deciding what treatment (if any) I wanted following my surgery. 

    “There were no such images at my hospital and I was only shown photos of women who’d had reconstruction.

    “As the saying goes – it’s hard to be what you can’t see. I didn’t know it was OK to stay flat because I wasn’t shown or told.

    “The assumption made was that I would have reconstruction.

    “When I started doing my own research, I found beautiful photos of women who had remained flat and that affected me in a positive way.

    “I could see what I might look like as a flat woman and it was nothing to be scared of. Actually, it was something to celebrate.”

  • 2. Realistic representation

    “True representation looks like society today, and by that I mean everyone in society being represented correctly,” says plus-sized model Ny Williams

    “I would love to see a fashion campaign where there’s no tokenism and people do feel seen and represented.

    “When I was growing up, I didn’t see any women of colour who represented me.

    “That really did have an impact on me. Throughout my teenage years, I felt like I wasn’t seen or good enough.

    “I still don’t see enough women like myself represented within mainstream media: cellulite, back rolls, hyper pigmentation and dimples.  

    “I’m unafraid of being who I am and being represented as such – a fat/plus-sized black woman.”

  • 3. Seeing yourself somewhere

    “Representation is being able to see yourself somewhere,” says Grace Latter

    “When I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, I felt like my world shrank. I suddenly couldn’t relate to any of the people around me.

    “Then, after bowel surgery a couple of years later, I had the same nagging feeling that I wasn’t anywhere I could see. 

    “There are no scars in the media; no serious illnesses, no post-op swelling, and no side effects of harrowing treatments.

    “The Project #ShowUs campaign with Dove, Girlgaze and Getty Images is a chance to change everything — and hopefully stop other people feeling as misplaced and underrepresented as I did.”

  • 4. Respecting diversity

    “Representation comes hand in hand with respect,” says photographer Sophie Mayanne.  

    “We need to move beyond including diversity in imagery as tokenism, to a place where we have a realistic representation. 

    “I don’t walk down the street and see someone like me represented in adverts and shop windows.

    “As humans, we all seek validation, and want to find common ground with others.

    “When you don’t see yourself in others, you start to question why, which can lead to an onset of negative emotions.

    “For me, true representation is the respectful inclusion of all walks of life.”

Find out more about Dove’s Project #ShowUs and what they’re doing to shatter beauty stereotypes