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Heidi Shaffer, Published March 01 2014

Hot Topics: New collection helps rid stock photos of stereotypes

In my two years as SheSays editor, I’ve seen my share of photos of females.

Recently, when trying to find a compelling image to tell the often-faceless story of military sexual trauma, I typed the words “women, military” into iStock.com for inspiration.

What I found was alarming – and not in a profound way.

Dozens of images depicted female service members as vampy, camouflage-bra-wearing, machine-gun-toting vixens.

The stock sites contain piles of stereotypes and very few images that look like real women.

Based on these images, one would assume modern women love eating salads, despise cheeseburgers, practice yoga on the beach in bathing suits and literally yank their hair out in the workplace.

So it’s not surprising that I welcomed the news last month that Getty Images, one of the largest suppliers of commercial and editorial images in the world, was releasing a new “Lean In Collection,” based on the success of Sheryl Sandberg’s best-selling book on women in the workplace.

Getty’s photos all look like women I know or, more importantly, want to know. Some of the featured subjects have tattoos, gray hair and real bodies, and none seem overly “made up.” Dads play an active role in the parenting shots. These women lift weights and play video games. They conduct research and they look like they enjoy math.

Just like real women. How ’bout that.

Bottom line: The images we put into the world matter. We need to work to make them realistic and commonplace. Kudos to Getty for a good start.