I am working on a marketing project in which I was looking for a little cartoon lady. I wanted someone who was dressed a little fancy but still professional to illustrate a point I was making about celebrity themed award programs. I opened up Chrome, searched the term lady…and was stunned at what came up. In all the years I have used Shutterstock, I must say they tend to have close to what I want and I can usually edit it to get a vector or image exactly the way I envisioned. These search results were anything but what I wanted though. It made me feel like if you are a woman in the United States and someone calls you a lady, you are either symbol of justice, a house keeper, an elderly person, an insect or an uptight Victorian-era impersonator. I don’t like any of these choices and I don’t fit into any of these categories myself.
Where are all the professional looking women with their nails done, hair done and coordinating outfit and accessories? The women who can afford their own way and are both book and street smart? Where are the stock photos of women all done up for a night on the town? Where’s the two dogs eating the same strand of spaghetti? If any one of these images would have popped up, I could possibly accept all the other results I saw.
In the end, drew my own vector and put ladies’ clothing on her. (I really love all the paper dolls they have on Shutterstock, wish I could have had those when I was a kid!) Sure everything worked out, but I still feel like grumbling about what these image search results say about our society. I realize Shutterstock only posts what artists draw and what is in demand, so I cannot put all the blame on them, but rather on people like me. So come on marketing professionals, why can’t we start using more ladies in our materials-women who reflect the polished image we project every week day?