Stock photos expand views of women in media

Forty-four stock photos of empowering women can’t change the world alone, but maybe they can transform the way society still sees the female gender.

LeanIn.org and Getty images together produced a compilation of strong-willed modern women, which BuzzFeed picked up and spun into a narrated collage featured on Huffington Post.

LeanIn is an organization created to guide women to “lean in” rather than “out” of their potential. Whether their challenge is getting a promotion at work or juggling toddlers and a sustaining career, it is a support group for female independency.

 

 

The Lean In Collection purpose is to adjust the way women are portrayed in media. The people behind it believe that with their promotion of women in non-traditional visuals, other photographers and companies may begin to follow this movement.

With the continual battle of movies, music videos, lyrics, magazine photos all demeaning’s women’s worth in their roles, the Lean In Project is changing that.

Too often in modern society, women are stereotyped at both ends of their gender dramatizations. There is the historically traditional housewife with their hair in a ponytail, four bouncing children, an apron and a hardworking husband to feed. The modern and liberated woman wears revealing clothing, has more than one sexual partner and experiments with all types of identification and lifestyles.

The women in these photos shared on Buzzfeed through Huffington Post were simply real, average women. There is something beautiful and raw about seeing actual reality depicted on screen nowadays.

I think it reminds society that simplicity can be beautiful still. With advanced technology, and applications such as photoshop and computerized models, women have a very difficult time “leaning in.”

The average woman would either be too curvy or too straight. Her eyes will not sparkle enough or speak out in a crowd. Her softly aged wrinkles and youthfully vibrant freckles will be evident. Her teeth will not shine brilliantly white and her hair will not always be in perfect, soft curls.

In this photo collection, the women are undoubtedly beautiful from a physical perspective alone. But only a few of them are “beautiful” by the regular definition we demand from media.

The very first image in the article has a mother with a sleeve tattoo on one arm, while holding a baby in the other. Her hair is boldly dyed and her eyeliner is noticeable under dark, thick glasses. This woman would normally be featured in a band image, not as a working mother. It’s natural to imagine tattoos on a single woman without children, but not a young mom.

Young girls are shown playing masculine sports such as ice hockey and basketball. These girls are darling, with beautiful hair and dimples, doing what they love. We finally see girls out of tiaras, holding a ball instead of pom-poms.

Many of the photos show a woman beside a man at work, some of which show the woman in the superior position and others as the subordinate. In the fair world, women will play both roles depending on factors beyond gender associations.

There are shapely women, as well as thin women. Some are featured with heavy machinery in protective gear, others sitting at desks in an office.

The article featured such a variety of ethics, careers, roles, ages, sizes and outfits for all women. It shaped an entirely different brand of a woman; it expanded the idea of feminism and all women. The photos were such a positive depiction of what we can hope to see becoming a more regular portrayal of the female gender.

Reach the columnist at aubrey.mccleve@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @theartsss