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Dove's new photo project is changing the way women are seen in the media

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Georgia Drew
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Project #ShowUs Getty Images Girlgaze Dove

Today marks the launch of Project #ShowUs, a collaboration between Dove and Girlgaze that aims to diversify the way women are represented in the media.

When you pick up any newspaper or magazine, or even when you read digital stories online, do you ever think about how diverse or representative the accompanying images are? 

Whether your answer is yes or no, it’s something that, as a consumer, you don’t really have the power to change. And to some extent, neither do the journalists or writers involved, which is because the majority of stock images come from one or two websites where there’s limited choice available. 

But all that is about to change because today marks the launch of Project #ShowUs, a new initiative, which is charting the release of 5,000 new photographs. It’ll be the world’s largest stock photo library created by women and all the images will be instantly available on Getty Images, one of the leading platforms the media and advertisers use in their visual campaigns.

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Brands will be able to view, license and use the roster of images in their upcoming work making it easier than ever for brands to engage in the discourse around diversity.

These new photos are the work of the female-identifying photographers at Girlgaze, a digital media company supporting the careers of young creatives by connecting them with global brands like Gucci and Google.

Shingi Rice #ShowUs Getty Images Dove

Alaa, Artist & Educator, by Shingi Rice

Amanda de Cadanet, the founder and CEO of Girlgaze, champions the projects integrity, arguing, “When there’s more diversity behind the lens, there is more diversity in front of it.”

Upcoming photographers Sophie Mayanne and Shingi Rice are two of the Girlgaze collaborators whose work features in #ShowUs. Girlgaze artists focus on women from different ethnic backgrounds, ages and abilities and the results are unsurprisingly breathtaking. 

“On a daily basis, women and girls face a relentless stream of media images displaying narrow, unrealistic, and outdated portrayals of beauty and what it means to be a woman,” explains Professor Phillippa Diedrichs, body image expert at the Centre for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. 

Sophie Mayanne Girlgaze #ShowUs Dove Getty Images

Juliet, Thriving Cancer Survivor & Mum, by Sophie Mayanne

“Displaying diverse and realistic portrayals of women’s bodies, like the images in Project #ShowUs, leads to improved body confidence,” says Diedrichs. 

This may sound like industry-only news, but inclusivity across stock image websites affects how we all see women in magazines, billboards and on our screens. As Diedrichs argues, if we can see more women that we identify with looking confident in the media, then it’s easier for us to access our own body confidence. 

Sophie Galvani, Dove’s Global Vice President notes that the brand “understands the impact unrealistic images of beauty can have on a women’s body confidence and their subsequent ability to reach their full potential.” 

Sophie Mayanne #ShowUs Getty Images Dove Girlgaze

Samantha, Model & Entrepreneur in Inclusive Fashion, by Sophie Mayanne

It isn’t just the stock image websites that are embracing diversity. The colossal impact that racially diverse films like Moana and Black Panther have had in the box office and in society at large proves that for people to feel seen, they must see themselves represented in the media and art they consume. 

Project #ShowUs isn’t a token gesture, it’s a call to arms for people across the industry to stand up and fight for inclusivity. But this is a movement we can all stand behind and get involved in.

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“Dove are also offering women around the world the opportunity to become part of the change and add their images to the library,” says Galvani, referencing a new webpage. It’s a place where everybody can upload the photographs that they believe represents female beauty looks like.

Getting big brands to change the way they depict women and beauty is no easy task, but Project #ShowUs is pioneering the long overdue shift the industry needs to take to create the inclusive visual landscape we deserve. 

Image credits: All images courtesy of Getty Images and Girlgaze photographers for Project #ShowUs

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