Why Dove's new #ShowUs campaign is groundbreaking for women in media

Have you scrolled through social media, or read some online articles on your commute and realised: "None of these women look like me"? You're not alone in feeling that your body – a real body – is nowhere to be found. 70% of women still don't feel represented in media & advertising in 2019. Despite all the talk about body positivity and acceptance out there, the fact is that scars, stretch marks, lumps, bumps, freckles, and women of different abilities, trans women, and non-binary people still aren't seen enough across the media.

Why is that?

The fashion and beauty industry still has a long way to go before it catches up with 2019's diversity. For us in the publishing industry, we use a lot of stock photo websites to find images to go along with our writing. But when much of the imagery out there are being produced with one type of body in mind, it can be hard to find photos that reflect how diverse the world and its women really are. It's a vicious cycle, and the ones who suffer are those who almost never see their body reflected online — women of different ethnicities, skin colour and skin tones, gender expression and sexuality and abilities.

67% of women say that the pressure from media and advertising makes them feel anxious about their appearance and beauty in general. This anxiety can have major effects on a woman's confidence and self-esteem — 32% say that lack of representation of different body types can prevent women from feeling comfortable having sex; 25% think it can prevent women from having a romantic relationship; and 25% think it can prevent women from going on a date.

But if this changes — if we were to see more diversity in the images of women we see in the media — this would have a big effect on women everywhere. 70% of women say that if media images were more representative of the way most women looked, then they would feel more comfortable in their appearance, and would have more confidence in general.


Dove's #ShowUs project

Dove is on a mission to change all of that. Their innovative (and frankly, pretty genius) #ShowUs Project is tackling the lack of representation of different body types in the media from the inside out. Dove, along with Girlgaze, Getty Images, and women all over the world, is creating the world’s largest photo library created by women and non-binary individuals to shatter beauty stereotypes.

The #ShowUs library features more than 5,000 photographs of women from 39 countries around the world, and every single image is photographed by a diverse global community of women, non-binary, and female-identifying photographers. There is no digital distortion or airbrushing — just an unapologetically inclusive vision of beauty.

What's more, for the first time, every woman photographed for the project has personally defined her own search descriptions or tags for her images, so she is defining how she wants to be seen, on her own terms. They no longer have to be defined by what mainstream media thinks they see when they look at their bodies — they can finally define how they want to be seen.

And the stats say that this is what the audience want: on Getty Images, one of the largest stock photo libraries in the world, searches for terms like "real people", "diverse women" and "strong women" went up an average of 182% last year.

Your authentic self


Just taking a look through the #ShowUs gallery, there are countless beautiful and diverse faces. But there is always room for more. Dove.com allowed women from every background to submit their own photos to feature in media around the world, looking for as diverse a range of women and non-binary people as possible. Entries are now closed, but you can still browse the gallery for a gorgeous look into 2019's definition of beauty.

Since launching our Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004, Dove has been challenging and redefining perceptions of beauty. With Project #ShowUs, Dove aims to do something at scale to make a tangible impact on women’s self-esteem. Project #ShowUs is not another Dove campaign. It’s a call-to-action and a solution for all media & advertisers to use. Together we can create a more inclusive vision of beauty for the world to see.

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