The old saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. As we prepared to launch our Cents of Self page, I spent considerable time searching through photos of women and money. It didn’t take long to notice a pattern in the search results that left me feeling frustrated and less than empowered. My search for “women and money” photos produced about 211,000 results. Unfortunately, I needed to scroll through three pages — each page containing about 100 photos — before I found anything worth considering. At that point, I felt that the thousand words weren’t looking too good.
Body Image vs. Money Image
It occurred to me that not only do some women have a body image problem, but some of us also have a “money image problem.” Here are a few examples of the images that came up in my Adobe Stock search.
The “I finally have the money and I’m going to do something naughty with it” pose.
The “OMG this piggy bank looks like me!” pose.
The “money flying out of my wallet and I’m clueless” pose.
Contrast that with the photo below. I only deleted two letters from the search terms and the results were completely different. The photos were all about attracting and managing money rather than losing and spending money. This was number four on page one of my search for photos of “men and money.”
I like to call this one Mister Money Magnet.
As with most stereotypical images, these stock photos perpetuate overall attitudes about women and money but don’t reflect reality. As I thought about my own life, I started to ask …
Where is the photo of a woman reviewing financial statements and looking for a way to pay her elderly parent’s care giver?
How about the woman who creates a budget and sticks with it?
When will a photo of a female financial professional come up?
Or, the single mom who supports her family by herself?
It was difficult to find those photos in Adobe Stock even though many women can share empowering personal finance stories.
Beware of the Airbrush Effect
In the same way that most of us know that the women on fashion magazine covers don’t have perfect skin or a tiny waistline; we also know that these photos don’t portray the truth about women and their affinity for finance.
There are plenty of women who handle the family budget, earn CPAs and MBAs or enjoy working with numbers – they are everywhere. Have confidence in your own financial knowledge and don’t let these pictures in the mainstream media plant the seed of doubt. Be sure to define your own image and don’t let the media do it for you.