Dove’s #ShowUs Project Supports Calls For Brands To Shatter Stereotypes

Dove Runs #ShowUs Project Supporting A Call By Women To Brands
Credit: Masego Morulane/#ShowUs/Getty Images

Dove, in partnership with Getty Images, Girlgaze and women from around the world announced project #ShowUs – the world’s largest stock photo library with over 5000 images created by women and non-binary individuals to shatter beauty stereotypes. The photos show women as they are, not as others believe they should be.

This project comes after Dove revealed that 70% of women globally do not feel represented by everyday images and 67% of women are calling for brands to step up and start taking responsibility for the imagery. This major new project will drive a more diverse and inclusive visual landscape through media and advertising.


Project #ShowUs is available now for the media and advertising industries to view, licence and use in their next project or campaign. The project aims for brands to come together and end the narrow definition of beauty consistently portrayed around the world, setting a new standard for the authentic, diverse and inclusive representation of women across the world.

71% of South African women still don’t feel represented in media and advertising; the move to a broader definition of beauty has never been more pressing. In one of the largest global studies of its kind, Dove research study shows that globally 67% of women are calling for brands to step up and start taking responsibility for the stock imagery they use, while in South Africa, a staggering 75% of women feel the same way.

On Getty Images, the search term ‘real people’ has increased +192% over the past year, ‘diverse women’ by +168%, and ‘strong women’ by +187%, providing more evidence of the demand for a more realistic portrayal of women and beauty. There is also huge need for stock imagery to include women in more progressive and empowering roles and scenarios with ‘women leaders’ up by +202%.

Credit: Olivia Mortimer/#ShowUs/ Getty Images

Globally, women wish media and advertisers did a better job of portraying women of physical diversity with two thirds (66%) currently feeling there is limited body shapes and sizes and 64% feeling characteristics such as scars, freckles and skin conditions are unrepresented.

Local research has also revealed the following about how women feel about representation by the media and advertising industries in South Africa:
· 8 in 10 (82%) South African women wish media and advertisers did a better job of portraying women of diverse appearance, including age, race, shape and size.
· Three quarters (75%) of South African women say that pressure from media and advertising drives anxiety around appearance and beauty in general.
· 8 in 10 (84%) South African women say that if everyday media images were more representative of the way most women in the country looked, then women would feel better about themselves.
· Better representation can also have a positive impact on girls. 8 in 10 (82%) South African women say that this would enable girls to grow up without feeling that they are being judged just on their looks and 8 in 10 (76%) believe that it would mean that girls were not held back by gender stereotypes.

The constant bombardment of beauty stereotypes is making 7 in 10 women feel pressurised to reach an unrealistic standard of beauty, contributing to an appearance anxiety epidemic. Women who feel worse about themselves as a result of seeing a narrow definition of beauty day in, day out feel it is impacting their daily lives – from being assertive (30%) to wearing the clothes they want (49%) or expressing their true identity (37%).

Dr Rebecca Swift, Creative Insights Director at Getty Images, commented, ‘Getty Images is a passionate champion for the realistic representation of all through imagery, and through this partnership is proud to be leading the visual industry to change the way women’s beauty is represented in media and advertising. Whilst we’ve seen a positive shift in the popularity of photography that realistically represents women, there’s a lot more to be done. Project #ShowUs will break visual clichés on an unprecedented scale, and we invite all media and advertisers to join the movement.’

Sphelele Mjadu, Unilever Personal Care Senior Public Relations Manager for Africa concluded, ‘Project #ShowUs marks yet another milestone step by Dove to combat unhelpful beauty stereotypes and empower women everywhere so that their beauty is a source of confidence, and not anxiety. Project #ShowUs is pioneering this change because our reality is that women can’t be what they can’t see, and so with this understanding, Dove looks to challenge unhelpful beauty stereotypes at their source, in a bid to ultimately help women everywhere.’

How to take part in the project

Media and advertisers: it’s up to all of us to expand how we are portrayed. View, licence and use the photos in Project #ShowUs for your next project or campaign at This is just the beginning. Every image licenced 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.

Women around the world: #ShowUs more women like you. Want to help expand the definition of beauty? Join to share your images and you could become part of the Project #ShowUs photo library.

Project #ShowUs is part of Unilever’s commitment to UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance – a cross-industry global initiative which uses the power of advertising and media to free the world from harmful stereotypes that hold back people and society.



GIRLGAZE GirlGazeInstagramProfile