Shattering beauty stereotypes: Big brands come together via the #ShowUs campaign, challenging media and advertisers to adopt authentic representations of women

“Weight 10st (I blame the turkey curry last week), boyfriends 0 (who needs a man if they are all like Daniel Cleaver), cigarettes 5 (I’m trying), alcohol units 0 (hurrah), calories 2100 (mainly items covered in orange icing).”

In 1996, Helen Fielding gave us Bridget Jones.  She was an interesting middle-class 30 something woman that wasn’t the typical size zero actress you’d see in many films.    

When the first Bridget Jones film was released in 2001, I can remember thinking how incredible that a woman (Renee Zellweger) whose figure and looks were an authentic representation of many more women in their thirties had been cast as the leading lady.

But the reality was short lived.  Hitting headlines like “Zellweger put on 30 pounds to play Bridget!” came thick and fast. She wasn’t real at all; Zellweger was just playing the part of ‘fat Bridget’.  Shortly after filming Bridget Jones, Zellweger shed the weight and returned to her ‘svelte’ frame – even though Mark Darcy admitted to liking Bridget ‘just the way she was’.

72% of women in the UK still don’t feel represented in media and advertising

During my teens and twenties, I felt under pressure to look a certain way, and it’s a shame that in an era that’s meant to revel in diversity, the pressure to conform to media stereotypes hasn’t disappeared – in fact, I’d argue it’s got much worse for young women and teenage girls – perhaps all women.

Today, everyone has access to the plethora of images on Instagram and other social media all bombarding them with images and how-to videos of how they should look and how to get the look; many of the images will also have been subjected to filters, perfecting every blemish and perceived imperfection.   It’s enough to make anyone feel inadequate as the reality is that no one looks anything like the images we’re exposed to – the media are making women chase a ‘dream’ look that doesn’t exist – it’s why the beauty industry is so lucrative.

I feel strongly that the next generation shouldn’t be influenced by marketing that makes any woman what to plump their lips, fill their forehead with Botox, have implants or change the shape of their bodies to feel good about themselves.  Everyone should be inspired to feel confident and happy in their own skin  – we should place our health, nutrition, intelligence, confidence and wellbeing ahead of the perception of what the media is telling us is beauty.

Challenging times – standing up to stereotypes

A collaboration with Getty Images and GirlGaze, Dove’s latest campaign is inclusive of all women – entitled #ShowUS Authentic Representation.

The campaign’s objective is to change the way media and advertising represent women.

  • 100% powered by women from 39 countries, in front of and behind the camera
  • Real diversity rarely seen in media & advertising
  • True-to-life depictions, not staged sets
  • No digital distortion, to show the world unfiltered beauty
  • Self-defined beauty with every woman deciding how she wants to be seen

#ShowUs campaign’s aim is to create the world’s largest photo library to shatter beauty stereotypes, with over 5000 images that will offer a more inclusive vision of beauty to all media and advertisers.  Take a look. If you’re in marketing or media share with your team.

Submit your own image and take part via this link –

Written by Kaia Vincent, Director of Brevity and Fellow of Chartered Institute of Marketing.