Change You Can See: Representing Women Starts With A New Visual Philosophy

What we see in the media – in print, on TV, online, and elsewhere – directly influences how we view ourselves and the world around us. This is why accurately depicting women in imagery is becoming increasingly vital as the fight for women’s rights and equality rages on. A simple photograph or video clip has much more power than we realize when it comes to constructing our understanding of reality.

With a series of powerful collaborations devoted to female empowerment, Getty Images is working to level the playing field and lift women up with the kind of representation they deserve – and the kind that has the power to change the world.


For too long, there’s been a problem with female representation in stock photography. Object of lust, frazzled working mom, or the butt of a joke, the stock photo woman has had a rough go of it – and feeding those kinds of depictions to audiences only reemphasizes the stereotypes.

In 2014, Getty Images partnered with Sheryl Sandberg’s women’s empowerment nonprofit LeanIn.Org to create a collection of realistic, authentic images of women and the communities who support them. The Lean In Collection has over 14,000 images depicting diverse, powerful, modern, and independent women and girls.


67% of U.S. women wear a size 14 or above, yet their kinds of bodies make up less than 2% of mainstream visuals. Refinery29 is working to change that alongside Getty Images with the No Apologies Collection, a collection committed to diversifying stock images of plus-size women and concepts of beauty. When Refinery29 saw only 5% of their published images regularly featured plus-size women, they got to work, casting all kinds of models and hiring photographers and illustrators to create (and recreate) shoots and artwork with fair representation.

“At our core we are a brand devoted to upending the long-held perception that only women who are white, conventionally pretty, and thin deserve to be seen,” Christene Barberich, Refinery29’s Co-Founder and Global Editor-in-Chief said.

The No Apologies image library is continuing to expand this year with four new themes focused on women’s health, beauty, and fashion topics. Audiences are on board as well, with terms like “real bodies” and “body positivity” skyrocketing over the past 12 months.


In March, Getty Images launched a collaborative effort with – the largest Muslim women’s online platform in the US – with the goal of tackling their long misrepresentation. Until now, Googling “Muslim women” has produced a one-dimensional field of black-veiled females, and the few images viewers may happen upon in the media usually aren’t much better. But Getty Images has seen a 107% increase in keyword searches for “Muslim,” showing that a shift in perception and awareness is strongly desired.

The new partnership is dedicated to creating authentic, positive, and diverse visuals of Muslim girls and women at home, school, and in the workplace. It’s an effort to finally offer the representation they deserve as well as to normalize and heighten modern perceptions of today’s Islamic communities.

“Getty Images has a deep belief in the power of visuals to incite change and shift attitudes,” Pam Grossman, Getty Images’ Director of Visual Trends said. “Positive imagery can have a tremendous impact by fighting stereotypes, celebrating diversity, and making communities feel empowered and represented in society.”


Part girl power, part Gritty Woman – one of Getty Images’ top six visuals trends for 2017 – a partnership with the United Kingdom’s Women’s Sports Trust shines a light on female athletes in all their sweaty, gritty glory. It’s not about looks; it’s about talent, determination, and resilience, and these women have it in spades.

Athletic prowess has nothing to do with sexuality, but all too often we see depictions of women in sports that emphasize appearance over ability. This collection strives to change the conversation and shift perspectives to what really matters: girls and women giving it their all – on the field, at the gym, or wherever they may be. 


Ready to make a strong statement? Change the way the world sees women with the powerful images available at Getty Images