Sunday, December 14, 2008

What is She Wearing?

Another way the female body image is portrayed through the media is by fashion. Fashion and a women body are greatly interconnected. Women are driven to look beautiful and be fashionable. However society quickly judges a woman when she is not “correctly” dressed. This usually means that she is wearing something daring or extremely unique. Due to this according to society, she does not have taste, style and is not beautiful and unappealing. Therefore woman especially celebrities are self-consciousness about what they wear. They are quickly judged upon demonized for their choice of clothing. Gossip and fashion magazines quickly judge or compliment celebrities fashion. For example in US Weekly they have listed “2008’s Worst Dressed” and “Best Dressed in 2008”. In Vogue magazines they have listed “Ten Best Dressed” and the list of examples can go on and on.

The What is she wearing? craze has even reached the White House. Since the election of Barack Obama, Michelle Obama has been under the spotlight. Her fashion options have been under scrutiny from the media especially from fashion and gossip magazines. Every time she chooses an outfit she is on the tabloids. For now, she has received positive comments on her choice of fashion and has been compared to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for being a fashion setter. Now everyone is speculating what she will wear for Barack Obama’s inauguration as president. I guess we will see.
Due to the high criticism from society women receive, they become more self-consciousness about what they wear and what others will think. They become more aware of their surroundings of what is in or out in the fashion industry. Nobody wants to look or be seen as ugly; therefore women conform to what society wants. For the most part women do not wear things that are daring and unique because of the high criticism which can have negative consequences.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Food and Women

The media as discussed has and is very powerful over women and their body perception. The media has its way of conveying messages and having the audience believe in them. An example of this is food. Food obviously has a strong connection to body since it is the main factor in determining ones weight. The media has had its own way of framing food either it is good or very bad. What it is predominately seen in the media is food being used as a sex object or as a means to achieve the fabulous skinny body everybody dreams of. Magazines and commercial advertisements have been seen to use food as a sex object. Many times food advertisements include women and target men. The women are usually sexy and provocative while using that specific food item. This confirms many stereotypes; women are seen as objects by men, women do not eat men do, and women are seductive therefore they are able to sell food much easier. As seen in the picture above the woman is covered in rose pedals which have nothing to do with the advertised yogurt.

Diets in the media also impact women negatively. In order to sell their products many dieting companies use the before and after picture or testimony. Therefore women should be able to relate to their situation and buy the diet product in order to look like their after image. Diet products vary from pills, drinks, meals, meal points, and many more. All of the companies state that they are the best and that they actually give you results right away. Due to this many women receive mixed emotions about food and their body image. On one side they can use food as a sex object and to be seductive but yet on the other side it is the means to get the beautiful body. Therefore many women do not have good eating habits which affect their health due to the mixed messages the media conveys.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Digital Retouching

This is another video done by Dove and its campaign on beauty awareness. The very short video conveys a big message. “Beauty has been greatly been distorted by the media”. The media has constructed their own definition of what a woman should be. Since the media is so powerful over many especially young women it creates a goal that is unattainable. Many young girls watch the media for advice. Advice on fashion, make up, boys, sex, and the list can go on. Instead of trusting their parents on these topics they rather take what they see as “reality”. Yet they are unaware that what they see is unreal which is what this Dove video is trying to say.

“I want to be Hannah Montana” is something that my seven year old sister repeatedly tells me. Even though I think Hannah Montana has no negative implications yet on my little sister’s body perception, she has been marketed to be seen as a real character that one day my sister can be like her. This is the way many images in the media are portrayed as. They attempt to make the images be attainable. Many magazines have on their cover “How to look like a celebrity”, “How to look as beautiful like them”, “Celebrities Beauty Secrets” and the list can go on. These are tips on how be or look like these celebrities. Clothing works in the same way just as much as other products. The media wants to close the gap between the images they advertise and the general population by advertising that one day they could be them. However as seen in this video that gap is never going to be closed because the images use digital retouching. The actual celebrity secret is not a product but technology that is making them look beautiful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Model Behavior

The modeling industry is an important aspect affecting the female’s body image. One popular issue is the promotion of the perfect and skinny body. Modeling industries strive to only have the most attractive and skinny model. Therefore many female models attempt to fit their needs in order to be employed. This includes eating irregularly, unhealthy eating and snacking, and even starvation. In November 14, 2008 a Brazilian model, Ana Carolina Reston (picture below) passed away due to complications dealing with anorexia. Ana’s weight was only 88 pounds when she died. Her story and Luisel Ramo’s story, another model that passed away due to anorexia, have captivated much attention towards the modeling industry and eating disorders. Due to this the Madrid Fashion show required all the models who were lower than an 18 in body mass to be banned because they were classified as underweight by the World Health Organization. Another change was that any model that wants to be on a catwalk needs to have a medical certificate. Not only does this affect the models but all of the females who strive to be and look like them.

Another aspect of the modeling industry is the lack of “normal” size girls. According to the video Slim Hopes 95% of women do not have this model body. This means that young girls watching America’s Next Top Model, Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency, Make Me a Supermodel, and many other television shows and magazines such as Vogue, Elle, Glamour, InStyle, and many other magazines will strive to look like them but never will. However there are several modeling agencies that have embraced plus size models as a division. Designers and product companies have also embraced plus size models in their advertisement and promotion. The media is slowly but surely embracing plus size models. However the day when plus size models become as popular and respected by society and in the modeling industry just like the skinny models is yet to come. Which is also have affecting the day until women and girls become more comfortable with themselves.

Conniff Taber, Kimberly. "With Model's Death, Eating Disorders are Again Spotlight." International Herald Tribune 20 Nov. 2006.

Slim Hopes: Advertising and the Obsession With Thinness. Dir. Jean Kilbourne. VHS. 1995.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hushed by Beauty

In the article “Born with a Birthmark and Nowhere to Hide; One Woman's Journey to Accepting the Purplish Stain on her Face” an undisclosed women tells her story about her identity while she was growing up with a birthmark extending from her chin, cheek, ear, and neck. Growing up at home she did not feel self-conscious about her birthmark not until she started school. Classmates would say rude and hurtful remarks towards her. Due to this she tried any way to hide her birthmark or make herself unknown in order to not draw any attention towards her birthmark. Once she started using make-up she found a new identity. “After years of loneliness and teasing, I couldn’t risk being vulnerable. So I became the master of my own blissful masquerade.” She acknowledged that the make-up was not only covering her birthmark but was covering a part of her. She was also self-conscious of this new identity because she knew that in some way she was tricking people into believing that she looked like this. When she was around boys or un-friendly make-up weather she felt uncomfortable. After being married and an adult she decided to expose her true identity. Even though she is older she still receives negative remarks but she was better able to deal with them.

“Yet I couldn’t contemplate being invisible again or, worse, ugly.” This is a common remark many girls and women share around the world. They would rather go to extremes in order to feel known and even better beautiful. Plastic surgery, Botox, Liposuction, excessive use of make-up and many other methods have been used by many girls in order to “shield” their ugliness. This article is an example of the effects many women face in order to fit societies ideal beauty. Mental and emotional damage are just as harmful as physical damage they face when they want to and strive to look beautiful. These methods used by these women at some point do not feel satisfying. Just like the woman in the article felt about make-up “Makeup had shielded me during adolescence, but now I felt as if half of me was trapped beneath a shellacked surface.” The make-up was a false identity which could not personally please her. At some point in her life her self-consciousness about her birthmark intervened with career opportunities. Her experience overall is an example of how powerful the beauty ideal is and how persistent it is over the entire society not just women. Just like the cable guy in the article expects women as much she expected herself to be the beautiful woman society expects.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


The video that I decided to focus on was a dove video titled “Onslaught”. The video is part of a “The Campaign for Real Beauty” Dove launched in 2004. The campaign is raising awareness about the issues many face when speaking about beauty. The video shows different media exposures about beauty and the means to get the “right look” being almost shoved and pushed towards a little girl as she and her friends are going to school. The point of the video is to be aware that the media and its perception on beauty are constantly being taught to women especially young girls. Even though may argue that the media exposure might not have any impact on young girls it does cause them to have self-esteem issues about themselves.

The first time I saw the video I was shocked and amazed of how much we are shown about beauty in the media. We are constantly are bombarded with these “fake” images about these beautiful women without noticing. When they are all put together and shown as one we see that they are troubling and then we question what we see. Even though the video captivates many it has not been shown nationwide. Therefore many especially young girls accept what they see and do not question it at all. Why not question when not being informed? We live in a society where few make important decisions about what we see and what can be questioned. There are few corporations and networks that control the media industry therefore they decide what is going to be shown and what is not. Due to this power given to very few people and the increasing in money hungry individuals we continue to see anything being done for money in the media. That is showing your naked body nationwide or kissing two people at the same time. It is done for a reason because the media only wants captivating images in order to make profit. Therefore young “normal” everyday looking girls are not of importance towards the media industry because there is nothing captivating about them that would make money according to them. One way to stop this bombardment of false images of women is to change the media industry from its roots.

"Campaign For Real Beauty Mission." DOVE. 14 Mar. 2008. 2 Nov. 2008.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Facing the Media is an informative website which targets teachers, parents, and a young audience in being aware of the media. The website attempts to teach young people to use the tools and resources. The website offers lessons, a membership, a blog, educational games, and news in order to become an interactive way of learning the information the website offers. A section of this website focuses on the representation of women in the media. The articles dealing with women in the media show the reality and the effects the media imposes on young girls and women who are the audience. Media-awareness uncovers the truth behind the representations and the motives of women.

An article in this website titled “Media Coverage of Women and Women’s Issue” discusses the underrepresentation of women in the media and how women are portrayed in stereotypical roles. Some of these stereotypical roles include women being only housewife’s, only sexual items, and submissive towards society especially men. The article suggests that women in news usually cover stories that need compassion and sympathy such as accidents, natural disasters, and domestic violence. Women also tend to receive less air time or input less quotes compared to men in the news and other media coverage. Women in sports are also misrepresented in the media. Their last names are usually used to identify them and their beauty at some points becomes more important than their actual skills. For example Anna Kournikova received more attention for being beautiful than for her games and contributions to tennis. Another important point the article the makes is that women need to be beautiful in order to be better accepted by the audience. The article uses Greta Van Susteren as an example. In order to appear in FOX she had to do a surgical procedure in her face, cut her hair and use make up. This implies that beauty comes before brains.

The website includes other articles such as “Beauty and Body Image in the Media”, “Media and Girls”, “Sex and Relationships in the Media”, and other articles that are relevant and informative. They induce the readers to question the media and what they are exposed to. After reading the articles the audience becomes more critical about themselves, especially women, and what they let themselves believe or judge. This and many other websites are attempting to question the dominant and powerful media that has many hypnotized.

"“Media Coverage of Women and Women’s Issue”." Media Awareness Network. 2008. 23 Oct. 2008 .