Here's some good news for 2017: The most popular image of a woman is no longer the one of her laughing into a salad bowl.
In the search for stock images of women, you'll find a lot of bad, depressing, stereotypical images of women that reassert tired tropes. But this year, things changed. The top-selling photo in the Getty Image library is one of a woman fully clothed, walking along a jagged cliff alone. It's a far cry from where we were 10 years ago: half naked and lying on a massage table.
The change is at least in part due to Getty's 2014 collaboration with Sheryl Sandberg’s nonprofit, Lean In. The collaboration started with the goal of seeding more modern images of women in the media. Now, the internet is just finally seeing the fruits of their labor. The Lean In Collection now has 14,000 photos that redefine what women (and men) look like. Over the past year, searches on GettyImages.com for the woman hero increased 105%. Searches for “strong woman” increased 37%. Beyond searches for images of women, Getty found that searches for the word “unfiltered” increased 219%. Searches for the word “authenticity” increased 104% and the search terms “real life” increased 99%.
Because we take so many photos of ourselves and our lives and put them online anyway, we are rendering ourselves and our realities visible in real time. Hopefully, brands and publishers have no other choice but to follow the trend by depicting the realities of real women. As Pam Grossman, Director, Visual Trends at Getty Images, told the New York Times, “For the first time in history, people can represent themselves, and therefore they demand brands to render them visible, too.”