Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Extra Credit-F.A.D. Event on the South Oval

I attended the F.A.D. event on the South Oval today, and was able to learn some very interesting information about certain topics pertaining to body image. This event was relevant to this course because the presentation boards contained information about various body image issues. I liked the "13 Going on 30" presentation board, which discussed the issue of young-aged girls being interested in clothes and things meant for women. There was an image of a young girl modeling a bikini on a runway that I found disturbing, because girls that young should not be modeling tiny bikinis on a runway. If girls start modeling on runways at such a young age, they will likely develop body image issues much earlier than a girl who was not exposed to the modeling world. Another presentation board contained information about the beauty standards in Africa. In Africa, big is beautiful. The presentation board showed images of bigger women and showed how bigger woman were more successful, and were more likely to find a husband. Another presentation board discussed the wage gap between men and women. There were charts showing that to this day, a man's salary is still slightly higher than woman's. I also received a flyer while at the event which had a list of places and contact information for those victims of sexual assault. I found this list to be very helpful, because I didn't know Norman had all of these places for sexual assault victims. I think information such as this flyer should be handed out to students more frequently, because it would help raise awareness of the issue of sexual assault, since it is usually a big issue on college campuses. I did some research on sexual assault cases on our campus and found an article that was printed in The Oklahoma Daily last year. According to Foy and Hughes, "Reports of forcible offenses on campus rose from two to five in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, despite efforts by the police to stop sexual violence." Some victims of sexual assault are too afraid to report their incident to the police. When a flyer is given to a student, they have access to these helpful numbers, and may be more likely to call since they don't have to take the effort to look them up.

Overall the event was very informative, and it was evident that all the students put a lot of effort into making their presentation boards. When I stopped by, it was very crowded in the area where the boards were, so I was not able to navigate around all the people and see all of the boards. I did like the boards that I was able to see, and I think the best way to inform students about body image issues is to have events like this.

The Oklahoma Daily article :

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blog #10- Body Image Playlist

I chose songs that I thought raised awareness for body image issues that people deal with. These are songs that showcase some of these issues and how society puts so much emphasis on being beautiful.

1. The first song I chose is called "My Skin" by Natalie Merchant. I chose this song because it talks about how the singer is now "untouchable" because her body has been treated wrong. Lyrics: "I've been treated so wrong, I've been treated so long, As if I'm becoming untouchable."

2. "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera is the perfect representation of a healthy body image. She sings "You are beautiful no matter what they say, words can't bring you down." This song has a strong message for those dealing with body image issues.

3. "Unpretty" by TLC is another good representation that deals with body image issues. Lyrics: "You can buy your hair if it won't grow. You can fix your nose if he says so. You can buy all the make up that M.A.C. can make. But if you can't look inside you. Find out who am I too. Be in the position to make me feel
So damn unpretty." These lyrics show what some women go through to look beautiful for their man. If a man cares more about your looks than your personality, this can have a negative effect on your body image.

4. "Piece of Me" by Britney Spears is a song that demonstrates how much pressure celebrities are under to always look perfect. Lyrics: "I'm Mrs. she's too big now she's too thin."

Over the years I have branched out and listened to more than "today's hits." I am also more aware of how demeaning rap music is towards women. I actually listen to the lyrics and hear how offensive many of the words really are. When I was younger and I listened to rap music, I was not as concerned with what the lyrics were really saying, I just sang along. If the tune was catchy, I would sing it, without really thinking about what I was saying.

I think the rap industry as a whole portrays women as objects and has little respect for them as anything else than sex objects. It is this lack of respect that has had such a negative influence on our culture. The readings talk about what girls will do to have 5 minutes of fame on the Girl's Gone Wild DVDs. I think girls are more casual about showing their boobs on Girl's Gone Wild because our society is more accepting of sex in the media. The saying "sex sells" holds true in our society when advertisements use sexy models to sell their products.

Blog #9- Sexist Advertisements

1. The first advertisement is for Drummond sweaters. It's an old magazine ad from the 70's, but it's interesting to see that not much has changed as far as sexist advertisements go. In this ad, the nude model is laying in a seductive pose, and the sleeves of sweaters are covering her private areas, but the sleeves look like arms that are touching her in inappropriate places. The copy reads, "If you don't buy these new Drummond sweaters, we'll go right back to male models." To me, this is suggesting that having women as models is a privilege to the men looking at the ads. This ad is obviously sexist because the model is an object for men to look at, she's not even wearing or "modeling" any of the sweaters.

2. The second ad is a Burger King ad for the BK super seven incher. It shows a woman with her mouth open and the seven incher sandwich inches away from her open mouth. The copy reads, "It'll blow your mind away." This ad is very sexist and offensive because it gives the appearance that the woman is about to perform oral sex on the sandwich, which coincidentally is shaped like a penis. The model in the ad looks like a blow-up sex doll with her open-mouth expression and wide eyes. Once again, this woman is being used as an object in the advertisement, not really modeling anything.

3. The third ad is an interactive advertisement for AXE body spray. It is a magazine cover that shows only a woman's neck, and she is wearing a leather jacket with a real zipper. If the reader unzips the zipper it reveals the model's chest and she is wearing a leather bra with the AXE body spray can positioned between her breasts. This ad is sexist because the woman model's face is not even shown, only her chest, and the leather bra she is wearing barely holds in her breasts. The copy is in Spanish, but translated it says, "Discover the power of leather." This ad is yet another example of a woman model being used as an object to hold the AXE body spray in her breasts.

4. The fourth ad is another AXE body spray ad. It shows a woman therapist wearing a very short skirt and low cut blazer. The copy reads, "Show me on the doll where the sorority girls touched you." The therapist is holding up a tiny doll and is sitting in a seductive way. This ad is sexist because it is depicting sorority girls as overaggressive women who couldn't keep their hands off of this guy. Also, the way the therapist is sitting and the expression on her face shows that she too is wanting to "feel up" the guy. This ad is portraying women as animals in the way that they want to pounce on this guy who used AXE body spray.

5. The fifth ad is for a company called Deckadance. It shows one girl in a swimsuit that barely cover her breasts and the other girl wearing a thong and no top, facing the back. The first girl is climbing a ladder onto a dock and she has her eyes closed and is facing away from the camera. The second girl is towering over the first with her butt being the main focus of the ad. This ad is supposed to be selling speaker equipment. It is very sexist because neither of the models are even facing the camera, which insinuates that they are objects for men to look at. Also, the topless model towering over the first suggests that something sexual is about to happen between the two. This ad is demeaning towards women because it is using their bodies to "sell" the speaker equipment.

Pop culture definitely defines the roles that men and woman are supposed to play in society. Women are depicted as objects for men to look at and are seen as far less superior to men. Men are seen as playing the dominant role in relationships and advertisements as they are usually controlling the woman in an ad.

Pop culture also depicts race in specific ways. For example, an African American model is usually depicted as animalistic, even wearing animal print clothing. This goes to show that pop culture can have a great influence on the way people view men, woman and people of color. Pop culture attempts to define the roles that each one is supposed to play, and many times people think these roles should be standard in real life.

When I see something sexist on TV, I will sometimes say something to my friends if it is outrageous enough. But some things are shown so frequently that I no longer am outraged every time it comes on TV. For example, I have come accustomed to seeing Girls Gone Wild commercials late at night, because this happens every night.

When I hear the word feminist I think of girls who don't shave their legs or wear makeup or dress in a feminine way. I have this image in my head because it is what the media depicts as feminist.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog #8- Male Stereotypes

1. Captain Morgan Improv Commercial: The main character in the commercial turns his friends into more appealing characters such as a romance novel character, a matador and then he turns himself into a doctor. They can now go approach three beautiful women at the bar because they have more interesting appearances/occupations. This commercial is funny, but after considering what it is really suggesting, I came to the conclusion that it suggests if a man has an interesting job such as a doctor, he will more likely attract the attention of a girl.

2. AXE body spray commercials portray men as chick magnets when they use AXE body spray. Women will literally throw themselves at you if you use this product is what the commercials are demonstrating. This particular commercial uses the stereotype that men are masculine when they use AXE body spray and women will grovel at their feet.

3. There are many TV shows that depict the main male character as overweight, but funny. Usually he will have a petite and pretty wife who puts up with his shenanigans. A prime example is the show King of Queens. Doug is the main male character and he is overweight and works as a delivery man.

4. Another example is the show Family Guy, which depicts the main male character Peter as overweight and stupid.

5. The movie "The Ugly Truth" depicts men as being dogs who only want women for sex and not for a committed relationship. Once the right woman comes along, she changes the man's perspective on woman in general. The man is now changed and can commit to a relationship.
6. There are many superhero movies such as Batman, Spiderman and Iron Man that all have very strong male heroes. These heroes hold a great responsibility of saving the world and setting a good example. These movies encourage young boys to grow up and be like these heroes. Even today, men see themselves as the protector of their families , so they must be strong in order to uphold this responsibility.

I think we have so many stereotypes about men because we have personally witnessed a particular stereotype in the real world. I know I have seen the typical funny, overweight dad of the family and the guy only looking for sexual relationships, not committed ones. A problem arises when we label all men the same way regardless of really knowing if the stereotype is justifiable. Not all men are pigs, and they deserve the benefit of the doubt. I think men are under a lot of pressure to be the "hero" of the family. It is considered embarrassing if they are not the breadwinner of the family, or not strong enough to protect their family. Many times there is so much focus on the stereotyping of women, that male stereotyping is not really given much thought.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Paper #2- Precious and The Bluest Eye

The movie Precious is about a high-school girl named Precious Jones. The name Precious, both as the movie title and her actual name, shows great significance. It is ironic that her mother named her Precious, because she is treated like anything but a precious child. She is in a constant battle of fighting off verbal and physical abuse from her mother. She also is raped by her father multiple times, and instead of receiving comfort and condolence from her mother, she is told she is a whore and a man-stealer.

Precious longs for lighter skin because then she would be considered beautiful by society’s standards. The fact that she envisions herself having blonde hair and light skin says something about what the beauty standards were for the culture she lived in. In her culture, having light skin and blonde hair was the epitome of being beautiful, and having dark skin was considered ugly. The thought of having lighter skin represented many things to Precious. It was an escape from the reality of her broken home; she took refuge in these thoughts while she was getting raped. Precious felt that if she had lighter skin, she would be beautiful and famous and loved by a light-skinned boyfriend. She knew that these fantasies would become reality if she had lighter skinned and nobody would call her ugly or dumb or worthless. Historically white people were envied for their wealth, intelligence and freedom, and they were considered human. African Americans were not even given the opportunity to achieve many of these things because many white people thought of them as less than human and treated them like animals. With lighter skin, Precious could be famous and wealthy and be the envy of others who once treated her like dirt. People would cater to her needs and not vice versa, and she would be treated with respect.
Her whole life Precious was told she was ugly and dumb and wouldn’t amount to anything. Because of this, she didn’t see the point in trying to learn and make something of herself. Once her teacher, Ms. Rain, believed in her and pushed her to learn to read, Precious gained confidence. But it was when Ms. Rain told Precious that she loved her; that was something she had never experienced. It was that love and support from Ms. Rain that made Precious strive to be something. It was that love for her children that gave Precious the strength to stand up when she was knocked down. And it was that same love that gave her the courage to leave her broken home, so maybe her children could have something better. During the duration of the movie, almost every time Precious looked in the mirror, she pictured herself combing long blonde hair and having light colored skin. This is because she had no self-confidence in the body that people called fat and ugly. But by the end of the film Precious valued her self image and became comfortable in her skin because she had more confidence in herself. At the very end, Precious looked at her reflection in a window and saw only herself staring back, not a light-skinned blonde girl. This was when you knew she had overcome her insecurities with her skin color and had learned to embrace her true self.

The movie ends on a somewhat hopeful note because Precious has made something of herself when all the odds were against her. The very last scene is her leaving her broken home with her two children and seeking better and greater things. You know she will do something with her life, but you also know that her future may not be so long-lived. You learn that her father has AIDS, and it is highly likely that Precious does as well. This information is frustrating to learn because Precious had come so far, especially after all the horrible things she was put through. You want her to have the opportunity to make something of herself, but also must accept the fact that she may be HIV positive. If Precious were to live, I envision her being successful and using the knowledge she learned to get somewhere in life. Since she moved out of her house, she no longer endures personal attacks on her self-esteem. I think this gave Precious the opportunity to love herself, and in the future she can pass this self-love along to her children. I envision her treating her children like they are truly precious, because this is something she never had.

The story of The Bluest Eye focuses on a different aspect of beauty and is not so much about skin color. Pecola is a little girl who is seen as ugly by everybody including her mother. Pecola feels ugly on the outside, and this affects her self-esteem, causing her to be an extremely introverted child. Her ultimate wish is to have blue eyes, because to her, this is the epitome of beauty. If only she had blue eyes, then everyone that saw her would be so distracted by how beautiful they were that they wouldn’t even notice her ugliness. The irony of the title, The Bluest Eye, is the fact that Pecola considers blue eyes, a light-skinned feature, as the standard of beauty. Although she never wishes for lighter skin per se, she does want the common light-skinned feature of blue eyes because she thinks everyone will envy her. Pecola doesn’t really struggle with her body weight as much as she does with her facial features. She thinks a black woman’s curvaceous body is beautiful, such as Miss Marie’s curvy figure. She envies the prostitutes that live on the floor above her, and does not judge them for their appearance or for what they are. Unfortunately, almost everyone Pecola encounters is not so kind in not judging her appearance. There are a few people in her life that accept her regardless of her ugliness, such as the prostitutes and Frieda and Claudia. It is interesting to note how differently Claudia and Pecola define beauty. To Pecola, beauty is having the bluest eyes, even with her dark skin. To Claudia, beauty is everything but the traditional features of a doll, which are blue eyes and blonde hair. But Claudia does envy Maureen Peal’s lighter skin and long brown hair, and so do all the other kids at school. This goes to show what the standard of beauty was in their culture: lighter skin and long hair. Also, many women in that culture put so much emphasis on wearing high-heels, dresses, make-up and having their hair perfectly styled and curled. Pecola’s mother, Mrs. Breedlove, talked about the pressure she felt to fit this mold of beauty, and if she didn’t, other women would stare and whisper about her looks. It is ironic that women in Lorain, Ohio put so much emphasis on perfecting their physical features with clothes and make-up when many didn’t have much extra money to spare. I found this part very similar to Akkida McDowell’s The Art of the Ponytail. McDowell discusses the importance of hairstyles to black women and how it is their source of pride (McDowell, 128). McDowell also felt pressured to get her hair styled, because others thought her ponytail showed she had low self-esteem or didn’t care (McDowell, 130). This is exactly how Mrs. Breedlove felt about her physical appearance, and she tried to fit in and conform, but ultimately stopped trying to fit this beauty standard.

It was hard to read all the struggles and unpleasant things Pecola experienced because she was so timid and conceived as ugly. The fact that her own mother thought she was ugly goes to show all the negative influences that were constantly beating down on her self-esteem. Pecola never seemed to stick up for herself, so this gave people the incentive to walk all over her. Pecola is ultimately pushed over the edge after her father rapes her and she becomes pregnant. None of the town gossipers seem truly concerned how this rape might have psychologically damaged Pecola, and some even speculate that she didn’t try to stop the rape so she must have encouraged it. This shows how little people care about Pecola, because they still stare at her while she’s pregnant, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t her fault. It is especially heart-breaking to hear that not even her own mother believes Pecola’s father raped her. The ramifications of the rape are obvious towards the end of the book, because you realize Pecola is talking to an imaginary friend. Unfortunately Pecola was not able rise above all the horrible things she endured like Precious was able to. Ultimately, this book ended on a sad note because Pecola’s baby died, she moved across town, and she lost it both mentally and emotionally. But for Pecola, it ends on a happy note because she got her wish. The only inkling of hope Pecola is left with, is the fact that she “got” her blue eyes. You can infer that she did not actually get her blue eyes, but she truly thinks that she did. Pecola is delighted by her eye color and is now able to walk around with the confidence that everyone around her is envying her blue eyes. This coincides with the reading by Leoneda Inge-Barry called Mirror, Mirror on the Wall. In this reading, Inge-Barry’s favorite place is the bathroom, because when she looks in the mirror, she is beautiful (Inge-Barry, 144). She sees her normally “ugly” features in a different light when she looks in the mirror. This is how Pecola sees her eyes when she looks in the mirror, not as brown, but as blue. She is able to ignore the reality of her ugliness because she truly believes that her eyes are now blue. I envision in Pecola’s future that she will continue to be more self-confident, and if anybody deserves something positive in their life, it is Pecola.

The advertisements in magazines and on commercials usually feature predominantly white models. There are not many representations of African American models, and when there are, they are often degrading. African Americans models are usually posed in animalistic ways and are even wearing animal print clothing or swim suits. This is representative of the notion that whites once thought of African American’s as animals. African American women are also negatively represented in rap videos. In these videos they are wearing hardly any clothing and are seen more as objects or props than actual people. Their sole purpose is to be something nice to look at while they dance and are used by the rapper. One example that positively portrays African American women is the show America’s Next Top Model. This show features real African American women, and some of them are plus-size models. These women embrace their bodies and culture, and even the judges make comments about their beautiful features. Overall, African American women are underrepresented in advertisements, but when they are represented it is usually done so in a degrading manner.

Blog #7-Eating Disorders

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders "such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder -- include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males." Many who suffer from eating disorders were influenced by images in the media. These images portray beauty as being very thin, and this creates pressure on eating disorders victims. I agree that the media can have a negative influence on eating disorder victims, but for me personally, I am more influenced by those around me. Any negative thought I have ever had about my body stemmed from being surrounded by my very thin and tan friends. I don't look at a model in a magazine and pine over her "perfect" body because I'm not so ignorant to think that her body is real. Being an advertising major I am aware of the wonders of Photoshop. I think the reason so many people are affected by images in the media is because they cannot grasp the concept that what they are looking at is not 100% real, it is an enhanced version. Advertisers will continue to enhance these images because it is obviously working if these magazines continue to sell. Is the enhancement of models in magazines misleading? Absolutely yes. Can advertisers and the media be the sole reason for all the insecurities concerning body image? No, because like I just said, advertisers would not be so successful in these endeavors if consumers did not buy the magazines and watch the movies, therefore, encouraging advertisers to continue doing their job. For those who are not so knowledgeable of the media's misleading portrayal of beauty, it has had life-threatening consequences. There are many celebrities who have struggled with eating disorders, and their struggles were displayed all over the media for people to witness.

The first example is Nicole Richie who shocked many people with her frail frame when pictures of her running around on a beach were released. She addressed the fact that she looked too thin in the pictures, but denied actually having an eating disorder. This goes to show that many victims of eating disorders are in denial and need help from loved ones to persuade them to get help.

Calista Flockhart is the second example of someone who struggled with anorexia. For years she denied having an eating disorder, but she eventually admitted that the ending of her show caused her a lot stress which led to under eating and over exercising.

Mary-Kate Olsen is another example of a celebrity who struggled with anorexia. She eventually entered rehab, but has not gained a significant amount of weight yet.

Victoria Beckham is yet another example of a celebrity who struggled with anorexia but denied even having an eating disorder for awhile. She eventually admitted that she became "obsessed" with her appearance and was anorexic as a result.

The final example is Lindsay Lohan. who like so many other celebrities denied having an eating disorder. She eventually came clean about having a problem and sought medical attention. But she continues to struggle with her weight and drug abuse.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Paper #1

1. According to Wolf, “The beauty myth is not about women at all. It is about men’s institutions and institutional power” (13). Wolf argues that it is the beauty myth that causes women to obsess “with physical perfection.” Wolf states that it is also the beauty myth, “that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fill society’s impossible definition of “the flawless beauty.” There is a love-hate relationship between body image and women. Women love to obsess over every little imperfection of their bodies, but they hate the way the media portrays this unachievable body image. Why can’t advertisers use real women instead of Photoshopping every detail to death? The reason is simple: advertisers want to sell products, and if the model selling the product is unattractive in any way, consumers will not buy it. Sadly, this reasoning is true under some circumstances. Americans have been conditioned to make the association that models should be beautiful. In the Beauty Myth, there is an example that reiterates this view that models should be beautiful. Katie Betts revealed, “In the New York Times Style section, to having removed accomplished actress Renee Zellweger from the cover of Vogue because she was “too fat” after having gained some weight” (7). In reality, Renee Zellweger was not fat; she was actually much smaller than the size of an average woman, which is a size 14. Zellweger gained the weight to play a part in the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary. Zellweger commented on her weight gain for the movie when saying, “I had a lot of friends who said I should think about keeping some of the weight on. I have to say I agreed, because there were certain things about it I liked very much. But, of course, I'm a girl, and I thought, 'Ugh, no.' Like anybody, I want to look my best.” When celebrities have the mentality that they must look their best, it has a profound impact on average Americans, because we aspire to look like these celebrities, despite the fact that most celebrities have unrealistic bodies.
The television show The Girls Next Door unrealistically depicts the ideal "body image". This is a show about Playboy Playmates living in the Playboy mansion with Hugh Hefner. A typical television show usually consists of the playmates working out, getting a tan, having their hair and make-up done, or going to an extravagant Playboy party. Almost every playmate on the show admits to having breast implants, and each one has the ideal body image: tall, skinny, blonde, tan, and of course, big boobs. According to Wolf, "The average weight of Playboy Playmates dropped from 11 percent below the national average in 1970 to 17 percent below it in eight years" (185). I was curious to know what the current BMI of a playmate is, so after some research I found a shocking article. According to Gammon, "A clear trend emerged: While real American women have steadily eaten their way up the BMI slope — just like American men — Playmates have gone from a sylphlike 19.4 to an anime-ideal 17.6." When women are exposed to shows like Girls Next Door, and see these playmates prancing around in skimpy bikinis and "living the dream", average women will likely become envious of this lifestyle and strive to have this body image, so they too can be the envy of all women.

2. An offensive advertisement I found was for Dolce and Gabbana, pictured below.

This advertisement is for Dolce & Gabbana, which is an up-scale clothing store. I found it offensive because this women is clearly being portrayed as a sex object, and the man is using forceful behavior to hold her down so he can "have his way with her." Wolf illustrates images in the media that are described as "beauty pornography". "In these images, where the face is visible, it is expressionless in a rictus of ecstasy" (132-133). Also, many of the images show the woman's eyes closed, such as the model in this ad.

The model appears to be struggling, but in a posed way, so it still looks "glamorous". The fact that her pelvis is pressed upward toward the man is also suggestive, because she is being restrained and is struggling, but her body is in a state of arousal. The other men in the background watch intently, as if waiting to assist if needed. The advertisement as a whole portrays a "glamorous rape scene" (Wolf, 146). The problem with this advertisement is how it may appeal to men and women. According to Stock, as quoted by Wolf, "Exposure to rape imagery increased women's sexual arousal to rape and increased their rape fantasies" (141). When men are exposed to rape imagery, they perceive this behavior to be acceptable, and something that women desire. This normalizes violent behavior among men, and puts women at risk for being sexually assaulted.

3. An advertisement that i like is Nike's "My Butt" because it sends a positive message and empowers women.

This advertisement sends a positive message to women, and that is: love your body for what it is. This ad is a tribute to the model's butt with copy such as, "My butt is big and that's just fine, and those who might scorn it are invited to kiss it." It successfully combats the stereotype that models must be skinny in order to appear in an advertisement. This ad pushes the boundaries by using a normal sized butt, and poking fun at skinny women with copy like, "It's a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales." If there were more advertisements like this one that celebrate women's bodies, women wouldn't feel so pressured to conform to society's ideal body image. It is evident that the "butt" in this advertisement belongs to a woman of color, which also combats the stereotype of traditionally white models in print advertisements. According to Wolf, "Beauty is an economy in which women find the "value" of their faces and bodies impinging, in spite of themselves, on that of other women's" (284). Women constantly compare their bodies to those of models in the media. But if more models had bodies like the one in this advertisement, this could drastically change the ideal "body image" in the American eye. Even little steps, such as this advertisement, can be seen as significant progress in the fight to change the ideal body image in society.