Spotlight on: Cheer Up Luv


Written by Don't Panic
06 Wednesday 06th December 2017

With movements like #FreeCyntoiaBrown and figures like Munroe Bergdorf, Instagram is rapidly becoming a hotbed of activism and social change. Part of this wave of social media empowerment is the photojournalism series Cheer Up Luv. Inspired by the uncomfortable normality of  street-harassment, the series publishes portraits of women who have experienced sexual harassment along with each one of their individual stories.

We caught up with the project’s founder, London-based photographer Eliza Hatch, to discuss the series, her hopes for the future and Instagram’s role in social activism.



What is the aim of the project?

The aim of the project is to raise awareness for everyday street harassment, and retell women's stories. By photographing women in public places related to their experiences of harassment, I want to turn that space into a stage for the women to speak out on. My aims are to empower women and turn a situation where she was once victimised into one where she can speak boldly about her experience. Even though the themes behind this project surround a negative topic, my aims have always been to create something positive. I want to continue to spread positivity and empowerment, and to try and make women feel more open and comfortable with dealing with bad situations. My true dreams are to be able to continue to take photographs in different countries, and to give voices to many more people who have stories to be told.





Do you think we are currently living in an empowering time for women?

The project is extremely important for its time, because historically, women have never had the platform or audience to speak out about everyday harassment, and for it to be taken seriously. No matter how "mild" the experience, each instance is a brush stroke in the bigger picture of a woman's life. When starting the project, I asked every woman I knew if they had experienced sexual harassment. Every woman responded, and I received two different kinds of answers. The first was; "Yes, which of my 5 stories would you like to hear?" and the second was; "Oh.. I'm not sure if anything that bad has ever happened to me". From the second response, I realised that women weren't even aware themselves what counted as harassment. After asking them again if they had experienced anything, ranging from a man shouting from a moving vehicle, to receiving an unwanted compliment from a stranger, I then received tons of stories of sexual harassment.


What do you think still needs to change?

I think the taboo and stigma surrounding street harassment needs to change, and women constantly being victim shamed. Whenever anything happens or reported, the women is made to feel like a complete victim. There is no incentive for women to report incidents of harassment because of the way those situations are usually dealt with, and that needs to change! There needs to be a more supportive system in place, and education introduced at earlier stages about harassment and consent.


Do you think Instagram is the new forum for change?

I think Instagram is an extremely powerful tool, it’s so engaging because of its accessibility and unity. Some of the most inspiring and popular channels focus on activism and empowerment , which is so important and positive. There is a wave of social activism, and its taking place on Instagram for sure.


Do you feel empowered by doing this project?

Since the project began, the response has been tumultuous, and It has been both therapeutic for the women involved and myself. I really feel as though a difference can be made, and I really hope that I can achieve the change I am striving for. I want people to take away positivity from my images and from my project, that is all I have ever wanted from it. My aims have always been to turn what once was a negative situation into one where the woman can speak boldly and be empowered by her situation. The most empowering part of the project for me has been to surround myself with these incredible women and hear their stories, It never ceases to amaze me how strong women can be, despite all we have to put up with!


Have you had any backlash?

The response to the project has been mostly positive. I thought there would be some backlash, because when you put anything out into the world, its to be expected! I received very badly worded, all caps, essay length hate mail from a 'Christina' one time, but I'm doubtful it was actually a Christina haha. Apart from that, not really. You can't really dispute the point that street harassment happens to women, you can't argue with these women's stories. Most of the women I interview have never told a soul about their experience, so its really brave for them to come out and share it. There will always be people who don't agree that women and men should be treated equally, but in time I hope there will be less and less of those opinions.


Are there any other Instagram accounts that you find inspiring?

My favourite Instagram accounts that I follow religiously are :@gurlstalk  @girlgaze @maisiecousins @ladyist  @petracollins

Support the movement by following Cheer Up Luv on Instagram @cheerupluv and share your stories

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