Getty Images dumps cliched stock photos for new 'Lean In Collection'

Getty Images in partnership with Lean In has launched the 'Lean In Collection' of stock photos, replacing the cliched, sterilized images of women and girls we have come to see on everything from billboards to magazine ads. 

Alfred A. Knopf/AP/File
Part of the cover image from the book "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" written by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and founder of Lean In, a nonprofit focused on empowering women.

Getty Images and Lean In have worked together to curate this antidote for the objectification of the female image in media via a new stock collection of photos devoted to the powerful depiction of women, girls, and the people who support them. 

Lean In is a women’s empowerment nonprofit founded by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and author of "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead." The Getty Images collection boasts "over 2,500 images of female leadership in contemporary work and life," according to the Getty Images website. The female leadership includes women and girls of all ages, at home, in school, at work, and outside.

The collection aims to remove the cliched images of girls and women used in stock photography for marketing campaigns. The images are powerful, arresting, and beautiful, without the normal objectification found in many fashion spreads and Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues.

Pam Grossman, director of visual trends at Getty Images, commissioned a study to track the changes in the representation of girls and women in the media, leading to the new collection.

The hope is that by offering these stock images, photographers will be inspired to create even more that convey positive images of women.

“This is such a big passion project for all of us, and cheesy as it sounds, by showing people powerful images of women, we thought maybe we could actually change the world,” Ms. Grossman told BuzzFeed.

As the wife of a visual journalist (my husband is the assistant director of presentation at The Virginian-Pilot newspaper) and the mother of four boys, this collection resonates with me.

My sons have been raised to pay extra attention to the photos that newspapers and other media outlets select.

As a mom who works from home, I am always trying to impress on my sons that my role is just as impactful as the role of those parents who work outside the home.

Still, my youngest son, Quin, 10, regularly floors me with his patently sexist visualization of the female role in society.

Yesterday, he said to me that he viewed a girl as cool for not being like a boy. When I asked him to expand on that comment, he said, “You know, girlie – pink tutus, braids with colorful ribbon stuff in them, hates math, loves books about unicorns."

As I sputtered at him, he giggled, “What? Come on, you know it’s true.”

What I know is that despite all the careful child raising my husband and I have done – aiming to nurture him as a warrior for inequality – he has still been seduced by the dark side of media imagery.

He delivered the coup de grâce this morning when he asked, “When’s take your son to work day? I want to see what it’s like to be at Pop’s office and have a real job.”

A “real job.”

What is it going to take for kids to understand that being a parent is as much of a "real job" as any other office position?

Working from a computer in the home often requires even more skill sets than doing the same “real job” in an office environment, because at the office nobody’s asking you for juice, clean socks, or to play Pokemon when you’re on deadline.

Although, I suppose if you’re working at a tech start-up in Silicon Valley or as a kindergarten teacher, those things might happen at your office.

Realistically, I don’t think that one collection of photos is going to completely reverse the impression of billions of images impacting our kids. However, it is a brilliant place to start.

It reminds me of Shoot for Good, an organization in Norfolk, Va., that holds events each year that encourage photographers of all levels to photograph and share acts of good in their community. All the photos from the Shoot for Good events are curated and posted online so we can all see the good in the community. The idea was created by local Norfolk photographer Stephen M. Katz and his colleagues Steve Remich and Jennifer Ditona.

Getty Images and organizations such as Shoot for Good are cutting the path for others to follow when it comes to shifting the perceptions of what we view everyday and consider normal. As Getty Images and Lean In celebrate photos capturing the innovation, beauty, strength, and character of women, we can launch a discussion with our kids that explains that "one size does not fit all" and that what makes us beautiful is our unique qualities, no matter how that looks.

With this lesson, hopefully my home workspace will finally be seen as an office, my writing as a "real job," and my beauty as more than the mom who makes sure you make it to school everyday.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to