Dove wants media images to represent women as they are

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)
© Getty Images \ (monkeybusinessimages)
Today, the Unilever personal care brand announced a partnership with Getty Images and Girlgaze that makes a new library of stock photos available to media and advertisers for license. With its new #ShowUs initiative, Dove wants to expand the conventional trope of beauty and help media represent the diversity and reality of women.

Project #ShowUS isn’t just about imagery; it’s about language and locale too. The new Getty Images library of over 5,000 photos was created by Girlgaze photographers, “women and non-binary photographers who understand the beauty landscape of that country for a more authentic, hyper-local and inclusive representation of beauty,” ​according to the Dove media release.

And the photographers chose the search descriptions and tags for their photos—a first for Getty Images—and a strategy that will help diversify digital search terminology and allows the photographers to “define their beauty in their own language,” ​as Dove puts it.  

Women and work

In 2014 Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit Lean In partnered with Getty Images on a library of photos meant to more accurately depict working women.

“Men and women should be equally represented at the boardroom table and at the kitchen table,”​ Sandberg told the press. “To get there we need reform of our policies, we need to encourage women to fulfil their ambitions and we need to encourage men to do their part in the home – but we also need to address how women and men are depicted….We are thrilled to be able to partner with Getty Images on this project and our shared commitment to literally repicture women, men and equality.” The Lean In Collection​ is still available and has grown to include 6,000+ images available for license.

Women and beauty

The new #ShowUs Collection​ has been a year in the making because as Sophie Galvani, global vice president at Dove, explains in the media release, “Dove understands the impact unrealistic images of beauty can have on a women's body confidence and their subsequent ability to reach their full potential. For over 60 years, we have believed in liberating women from narrow beauty ideals and have showcased beauty diversity in our advertising. However, this is not enough, and we cannot make the systemic change we need alone.”

And Leslie Golts, marketing lead at Dove Canada emphasizes that “Project #ShowUs is the result of real women demanding representation in an industry that often dictates the very image we have of ourselves,” ​adding, “We're thrilled about this project and partnership as it gives us the opportunity to represent the powerful women who make up the rich tapestry of Canada as we know it.”

As a visual media company, Getty Images seems interested in advancing meaningful change as well: “Whilst we've seen a positive shift in the popularity of photography that realistically represents women, there's a lot more to be done,” ​says Dr Rebecca Swift, creative insights director at Getty Images. “Project #ShowUs will break visual clichés on an unprecedented scale, and we invite all media and advertisers to join the movement,” ​she says.

Dove is inviting consumers to be a part of the #ShowUS project​ as well: “we are also offering women around the world the opportunity to become part of the change and add their images to the library,” ​says Galvani.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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