Friday, November 14, 2008

Activism Project

Please watch this video and comment! This is an activism project for my Women & Sexuality class and I need to evaluate its effectiveness. Thank you!

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Anonymous said...

You made this? It's awesome! I would say it is definitely effective and kept my attention. It might have been nice to see more side by side pictures because I kept forgetting how the "before" image looked. Thanks for sharing!

thruby said...

Great presentation. I'd heard this information before, but never seen many of the comparative photos. It made more of an impact that just statistics.

I wish (as I do with most of the depressing/eye-opening women's studies stuff that you tell me) that more people knew this stuff. I know that a lot of people who look at magazines think that they are real. I think a lot of them prefer not to know the truth.

Body image problems definitely cause problems for many women and young girls in our society and it is very frustrating to realize that the standards people starve themselves for and undergo plastic surgery to realize are not even real or naturally obtainable. It's also frustrating because it seems like a problem it will be very difficult to do anything about - Advertising (of which celebrity culture is a huge part) is a billion dollar industry and hard to sway, especially if they think that the changes will cost them money.

Hope that helps some. I'm in class and I just got called on.

Michael Faris said...

Great video! I think the music you chose works well with it!

I think Andrea's point that side-by-side images might be helpful. I wasn't sure what to look for as images changed. The words were very helpful in focusing me on what changed in the image.

I think this a powerful video. I'm wondering, thought, about where the women are who aren't super thin to begin with are? Perhaps it's too much outside the scope of this video... Nicely done!

Saren J. Call said...

wow! i'm amazed you found so many untouched photos.

I never go through the grocery store checkout that has all the tabloids and fashion magazines because i don't even want to see it. I love the video (and i agree about the side by side, although the fading was really really cool); i like it when you point out the specifics. It's lines, wrinkles, shapes, shadows, breasts, waists--geez, it's not even real people.

Very powerful.

papershirt said...

I think this is a video that all women should watch. It is true that so many of us compare ourselves with the women in the media and we cannot match up. It is time this world embrace the true beauty that we possess. Are we not beautiful enough already? I know this is something I personally struggle with all the time and it is depressing because no matter what I do I won't look like these women. What is sad to me is that even the most "beautiful" women in Hollywood the ones we all idolize are not good enough. Even they do not measure up.

Ozu:) said...

Great Work. I agree with both Andrea and Michael - side by side comparisons would definitely hit the point more (i.e. highlight the difference between real and media-produced beauty).

Also, would help if you branched out a bit more, look for things that we don't normally think about (i.e current idea of beauty in Asia which places high praise on European nose and eyes, beauty in A.A Culture *loved your article on how the French Venus and our culture's obsession with "big booty").

Hope that helps:)

Anonymous said...

What is the root of the issue? Did body image problems start with the media?

To what extent can touching up a photo be considered art? Are graphic designers artists? Are there disclaimers on pieces of art verifying that they aren't real?

Is our interpretation as consumers at any fault or is the presentation to blame? Couldn't we excuse some of these as "fantasy"?

Are body image problems a privilege? Are there not more important things that we could be worrying about? For instance, the institutional representation and status of women in accordance their appearance.

Heather Ebba said...

i think everyone has made excellent points. i would like to address the idea of privilege and status. while i agree that privilege is an aspect of this, i do believe that the pressures put onto women to conform to these standards happen in all socioeconomic groups. people with more resources have more opportunity to conform to these standards, where us poor folk don't always have those resources readily available.
when media sets standards of what is or should be considered "normal" many people (both men and women) feel the pressure to fit into the normal box. it is my opinion that women are sent the majority of these messages. in those magazines where these images appear, we have ads strategically placed directly behind the "beautiful" cover. these ads promote products (often expensive) that promise the buyer that they will be one step closer to that desired cover model, if they use that product. because women are marketed all those products, 2 very interesting things occur:
1) women spend more of their already (often) limited resources on those products (my $30 face cream is an example of that), thus decreasing their income
2) the time women spend trying to achieve the "look" could be better spend on a variety of things such as education, community involvement, etc.
there is more to the picture that just a pretty face, but it could be seen as an agenda to keep women preoccupied financially and time wise into being less community minded.
what else is being said by these pictures? well, there is also the idea of being sexually attractive. if we become sexually attractive, according to these standards, then we will find a mate. you will be loved and thus happy if you look like this!
oh and i almost forgot about gendering. these standards also let women of all ages know what appropriate femininity should look like.

that said, i think there are a lot of institutional problems that need to be fixed, but i don't think that issues such as how women are represented in the media should be at all trivialized.

ammi said...

I find it interesting how the media's portrayal of beauty (for both men and women), despite its psychically impossible standards, goes unquestioned by audiences. Instead they have taken the idea of beauty, redefined in it their own terms and commodified it. This airbrushed ideal of perfect, impossible to achieve, is sold to millions of young girls and women out of hopes they can be considered by the medias' standards "beautiful". Meanwhile, companies will continue to sell products using a phantom.

Two things are upsetting about this:
1. That so many females are upset about their natural selves, and loose a feeling of self worth based upon their supposed short comings. Beauty should never define self worth, nor should these females feel ashamed of their bodies.
2. The fact that the media has the power in American society to not only redefine beauty, but to alter someone to fit that standard they know cannot be met. Then to put that idea out there everywhere for all to see and expect them to accept it and conform. But try as they might, it is not possible, and all one gains in trying is a lot of stress and dissatisfaction while the media and product companies reap in the finances of those sold.

Good luck on your project. =D

Maggie said...

The medias idea of beauty effects today's youth to extreme measures. Young girls are developing eating disorders at younger and younger ages due to the impossible standards they feel they need to live up to. I believe that this is a huge problem and that something should be done in order to stop it. This project is one step towards that goal.

Anonymous said...

Anybody want to touch on this airbrushing as an art form?

I mean really, it's quite amazing what these artists are able to do...

Another question... Do you all honestly think that if there was no media that women wouldn't suffer from unachievable cosmetic expectations?


Again I ask... What is the root of the issue?

I think that we are trying to kill the messenger when, in fact, we (as a people) are guilty for allowing the problem to persist... The media feeds in to what they know will sell products.. obviously this strategy continues to work, meaning that people aren't really that terribly effected by it...

I assume that you all wear clothes and lotion and perfume and jewelry... and read magazines with sexy men and women... I'm sure some of you have watched and enjoyed a sexy movie... probably even masturbated to one...

Thank god for digital imaging, right?

Perhaps we should blame ourselves because without "us" there is no "media"...

Michael Faris said...


I don't want to discount what you are saying. There is some truth to how consumers agree to hegemonic terms.

However, what you posit is problematic, as I see it, for two reasons: 1) it ignores ideology and how it affects desire; and 2) the claim that just because we desire something means it's good seems very suspect to me. ("obviously this strategy continues to work, meaning that people aren't really that terribly effected by it" — just because something works doesn't mean there aren't adverse effects.)

Of course we desire what's bad for us. Take cigarette smoking, as an obvious example. However, why do we desire it? These desires don't come from anywhere, but are structured by normative ideals our society (including mass media) creates.

Mass media is certainly part of the problem, though not all of it. I think what Heather wrote above is important: we need to understand that mass media is not the whole of the problem, but we can't trivialize the power of the media to create normative images that are internalized by consumers.

You ask a great question: What is the root of the issue? In this case, I'd argue patriarchy, which generally posits women as objects for men, and both men and women internalize this system, to the adverse effects of both.

Heather Ebba said...

white supremacist capitalist patriarchy (hooks), perhaps the root of all institutional oppression

Anonymous said...

I like your slide show, I thought it showed some awesome images to prove that the media really does make women look unrealistically different than the average women.