“They are reclaiming ownership of that experience,” photographer Eliza Hatch said.
Earlier this year, Eliza Hatch was walking down the street in London when a man walked past her and told her to “cheer up.” Those two words spurred the 23-year-old photographer to create a powerful photo project about sexual harassment, aptly titled “Cheer Up Luv.”
The photo series features dozens of women in the different places they have been catcalled or sexually harassed. Each woman shared her story of sexual harassment; many instances took place in public spaces like sidewalks and street corners and public benches.
Hatch told E News All that after this strange man told her to “cheer up,” she became really angry.
“That single phrase, which I am used to hearing, finally irritated me so much to the point where I needed to do something about it,” she said. “It prompted me to have a conversation with my girlfriends about harassment and we ended up story swapping for over an hour, talking about sexual harassment like it was the most normal thing in the world.”
Hatch said she was prompted to start the project after her male friends expressed their “disbelief and horror” that she and her girlfriends experienced sexual harassment as much as they did.
“I realized that it wasn’t just the harassment itself that was the problem, it was the awareness surrounding it,” she said.
Hatch said the series has been received very well, and she’s had an overwhelming amount of women of all ages, sizes and ethnicities who want to partake.
“It has been both therapeutic for the women involved and myself,” she said. “There has been an extremely positive reaction from the women who I have photographed, as they are reclaiming ownership of that experience, and turning a situation where they were once victimized into one where they are empowered.”
She added that she hopes this series can elevate women’s voices in conversations around street harassment.
“This project is for the women involved, and for people who have stories to share,” Hatch told E News All. “I want to give women a voice, and continue to raise awareness for an issue that was previously barely spoken about.”
Scroll below to see more from Hatch’s “Cheer Up Luv” series.
Head over to Instagram to see more from Hatch’s “Cheer Up Luv.”