Catcalling. Men beeping from vans. Whistles. Grimey looks from old men. This is a part of life and a part of womanhood for many women. From a young age, women are inherently sexualized for the most innocent of things. We get used to dealing with it, but that doesn't make harassment any less embarrassing when a man old enough to be your father shouts at you in the middle of the street about what a nice body you have. Women have gotten used to putting their heads on, quickening their pace, and ignoring these men, but the fact that this is a common occurrence does not make it okay. Shedding light on the aggressions women face every day is the project "Cheer Up Luv" by photographer Eliza Hatch. In conversation with her girlfriends, Eliza came to realize how ordinary sexual harassment stories are. That's why she decided to start documenting the stories of young women and their encounters through this photography series.
“Cheer Up Luv” is putting a face to sexual harassment and providing a platform for women to share their experiences. The reason sexual harassment thrives — in addition to the fact that we live in a patriarchal society that constantly objectifies women — is that the perpetrators do it while no one is watching — targeting women who walk alone or seem defenseless. Most of the harassment begins at a young age, targeting girls in school uniforms. We see the sexualization of schoolgirls in everything from tacky Halloween costumes and music videos to porn, and Eliza believes this is behind many young girls’ harassment from strange men.
Bound between New York and London, Eliza has found many similarities in the stories these young women have to tell. The women featured in “Cheer Up Luv” are breaking a barrier and stigma while putting a face to countless stories and mortifying experiences. Eliza also sees frustration in the women she has spoken to — a frustration that this is their reality. Unfortunately, these incidents have become a part of women’s daily routines around the world. To Eliza, the saddest part about the “Cheer Up Luv” project is that every woman she has reached out to has had a story to tell.
With "Cheer Up Luv", Eliza hopes to empower women to not feel ashamed about these experiences and give them a platform to feel less alone when dealing with sexual harassment. Eliza also hopes to inspire men to be aware of their actions and behavior toward women; for them to be aware that this is happening and to ultimately become allies and speak up for women when women can't speak up for themselves.
Projects like “Cheer Up Luv”, documenting experiences through photography, are so important because they humanize women in a world that often dehumanizes them and turns women into objects. Hopefully, with projects like "Cheer Up Luv", we can start to see a change in the dialogue surrounding sexual harassment and dismantle it as a part of women's everyday routines. Congratulations to Eliza Hatch on this amazing project and to the brave women who have come out and shared their stories.
Cheer Up Luv: