Project #ShowUs Year Two marks impact on brand communications and still only 9% of women feel represented in advertising

Two years on from the launch of Project #ShowUs, Getty Images, Dove and Girlgaze reveal the impact of their partnership, with Getty Images search and download data signalling the advertising industry is moving toward more authentic and inclusive portrayals of women. Yet data from Getty Images’ insights platform Visual GPS suggests there is still more work to be done by agencies and brands to represent women across the different intersections of age, ethnicity, ability, body shape and size, gender expression, sexual orientation and religious beliefs.

At launch, the ambition for the project was to come together and put an end to the narrow definition of beauty consistently portrayed around the world, setting a new standard for the authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women and non-binary individuals across the world. Shot entirely by women, female-identifying and non-binary photographers and videographers, every individual featured within the collection has personally articulated their own search descriptions and tags for their images, allowing them to define how they want to be described, in their own language, on their own terms, ensuring they feel realistically represented.

The impact of Project #ShowUs so far

  • Images from the Project #ShowUs image library have been downloaded over 42,000 times by over 4,900 companies globally.
  • Over 200 female-identifying and non-binary photographers in 41 countries have contributed to the collection – including 85 new content creators, now including videographers, since launch.
  • Over 85,000 women and non-binary individuals have shown interest in taking part in #ShowUs with nearly 4,000 signing up to be hand raisers for the campaign and feature in the library.
  • Following launch of the collection, global customer searches on increased for ‘real woman’ (up 150%), ‘natural beauty’ (up over 100%) and ‘body positive’ (up over 470%) while new search terms appeared such as ‘unretouched’ and ‘authentic woman’.

Still a way to go for agencies and brands

And there is still much work to be done. In a survey carried out for Getty Images Visual GPS, only 9% of UK women said they are well represented in advertising and only 7% consider themselves well represented in communications from companies they do business.

Additionally, of those women who reported feeling discriminated against, 45% of women said it is because of their body, shape or size and 36% reported discrimination because of the way they look, dress or present themselves.

Winners of latest #ShowUs Grant revealed as next grant opens for submissions

As an extension of the project, the Getty Images #ShowUs Grant was launched in 2020 to provide financial and mentoring support to women, female-identifying and non-binary commercial photographers and videographers from around the world who are using their talents to create inclusive visual stories authentically representing women, female-identifying and non-binary individuals.

The most recent grant awards two $5,000 grants to emerging artists who were asked to submit against the brief of creating inclusive visual stories on the theme ‘Women Relationships’. The winners are:

  • Stephanie Bell, a media producer, filmmaker and writer located in Los Angeles who aims to inspire, empower, and uplift women through creative concepts and storytelling. Stephanie’s winning project focuses on documenting the importance of Black-owned beauty supply stores and salons in Los Angeles.
  • Nwando Ebeledike is a London-based Nigerian documentary photographer who is inspired by otherness/alternative realities, finding various diverse ways of life and merging these various realities to get a better understanding of life. Nwando’s winning project focuses on telling the stories of queerness in Nigeria, where one’s reality can be taboo and punishable by law. 

Stephanie Bell said of winning the grant:Winning this grant motivates me to tell the stories that I am passionate about. As an artist sometimes it’s easy to trick myself into thinking that my ideas aren’t worth pursuing but receiving recognition like this provides confirmation that underrepresented stories are important and my work will be supported despite my insecurities. This grant will help further my creative work by allocating the funds I need to purchase necessary equipment and allow me to invest in the help of creatives within my community.”

Nwando Ebeledike said of winning the grant:For the past year, I’ve been in a state of ‘stuck’ because of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. Recently, in a state of worry, I asked myself ‘Am I still a photographer if I do not photograph and am I still a storyteller if I do not tell stories’. This grant has given me renewed self-belief in the work, in my visual eyes, in the way I see the world, in the stories I want to tell and how I want to tell them and in the ways these stories are interpreted by people who see them. It has reminded me that I am still a photographer documenting important stories even when the world slows down.”

Getty Images, Dove and Girlgaze are now calling on 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 – this can be mother leading/teaching daughter, friend guiding friend, or women and non-binary individuals in professional leadership settings. Grant closes at 11.59pm EST 29th April. For more information on how to enter please visit

Dr Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images, comments: “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, Dove, comments: “Project #ShowUs is an ambitious collaboration between likeminded 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.”

How to get involved

Media and advertisers – 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 at 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.

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