Project#ShowUs continues its mission for diverse female representation in advertising

A media project is furthering authentic female representation in advertising, but female consumers want more body diversity represented in the campaigns of businesses they buy from

A movement to make the advertising industry include more “authentic and inclusive portrayals of women” has turned two years old. The campaign called Project #ShowUs involving media giant, Getty Images, toiletry brand, Dove, and Girlgaze, a gender-inclusive hiring firm, says there’s been improvement in diverse female representation in the sector since the launch.

Project#ShowUs – mission and purpose

The mission of Project #ShowUs is to change “the narrow definition of beauty consistently portrayed around the world” and instead set “a new standard for the authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women and non-binary individuals.” Today, over 14,000 of its images are now available for organisations to licence.

The project includes images shot by female photographers from around the world including female-identifying and non-binary photographers and videographers. The subjects of the images were given autonomy to define how they were visually represented and “personally articulated their own search descriptions and tags for their images.”

This, the campaign’s supporters said, allowed them “to define how they want to be described, in their own language, on their own terms, ensuring they feel realistically represented.”

At the start of the project, over 85,000 women and non-binary individuals showed interest in taking part which evidences the desire for diverse women to be ‘seen’ in media and advertising.

Engagement with the project from external organisations has also been successful, with images being downloaded “over 42,000 times by over 4,900 companies globally.”

Last year, the project launched the global Getty Images #ShowUs Grant to “provide financial and mentoring support to women, female-identifying and non-binary commercial photographers and videographers” who are committed to creating inclusive visual narratives about diverse women.

Two recent recipients of the $5,000 grants, who were asked to submit a brief on creating inclusive visual stories on the theme of female relationships, were Stephanie Bell, a Los Angeles-based media producer, filmmaker, and writer, and Nwando Ebeledike, a London-based documentary photographer.

Bell’s project “focuses on documenting the importance of Black-owned beauty supply stores and salons in Los Angeles,” while Ebeledike’s seeks to” tell the stories of queerness in Nigeria, where one’s reality can be taboo and punishable by law.”

Since the launch of the campaign, global customer searches on for ‘real woman’ were up by 150% and ‘natural beauty’ up by 100%. Searches for the term ‘body positive’ increased by 470%.

However, Getty Images’ insights platform revealed there was more work to be done to make all types of women feel represented where only 9% of UK women said they are “well represented” in advertising while only 7% consider themselves “well represented in communications from companies they do business.”

It also found that 45% of women said they felt discriminated against “because of their body, shape or size” while 36% reported discrimination because of the way “they look, dress or present themselves.”

Dr. Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images, said: “At Getty Images, we understand the power images can have in shaping and breaking stereotypes and inspiring change, so seeing the results of #ShowUs just two years in is incredibly rewarding. Yet women around the world are telling us they still don’t see themselves represented in visual communications.

“Everyone responsible for choosing or commissioning content needs to dig deeper. For our part, the #ShowUs Grant is one of the ways we meaningfully support the promotion of gender diversity within creative photography and elevate the work and the voices of female-identifying and non-binary photographers.”

Sophie Van Ettinger, Global Vice President at Dove, added: “Project #ShowUs is an ambitious collaboration between like-minded partners who want to change the representation of women across the globe. Two years on from the launch, I’m proud to see the impact #ShowUs is having on the industry.

“The growth of the bank and the #ShowUs Grant continue to move the conversation forward, but there is always more that can be done. As an actionist brand, Dove will continue to challenge the industry and ask media and advertisers to consider the images they’re using and the proven impact they have on how women feel.”

The campaign also had this message for media and advertising companies: “It’s up to all of us to expand how we are portrayed. View, license, and use the photos in Project #ShowUs for your next project or campaign. Every image licensed will support female photographers of the future and grow the photo library further so that all media and advertisers can reflect the authentic experiences of women around the world.”

The campaign wants emerging artists to apply for the next grant, which will award two grants of $5,000 to women, female-identifying and non-binary individuals who “submit against the brief of representing women and non-binary leadership in all its forms”.

Submission closes at 11.59 pm on 29th April 2021. Click here for more information.

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