Initial Thoughts: Publications and Social Media in relation to my Research Question

It is interesting to think that social media is now overtaking publications in regards to ‘influence’, by having not only the capacity to feed the same content, but to also allow for brands and ‘influencers’ to engage directly and in real-time with their audience across a global range of platforms on a daily basis. Social media not only allows the audience to ‘follow’, view, watch and ‘like’, but to engage with others by commenting, encouraging re-posting and brand engagement, gaining feedback and analytical insights per video or photo, for example. On the other hand, publications can only be valued in this sense by the weekly, bi-monthy or monthly sales figures. This, unfortunately was clarified and confirmed by Alexander Shullman in the recent Vogue Documentary series aired on the BBC, whilst in discussion regarding which cover image would pull in more buyers to purchase the monthly read of the shelf. However, this sense of direct engagement within social media not only gives brands and ‘influencers’ immediate power over their following, but also gives a sense of direct interaction from the audience, making the end-user feel engaged and like an active part of the online community. Publications have always featured models, celebrities and ‘IT girls’, whilst now in present day, social media platforms have given us the ability to share our own photos with the same communities which we so religiously follow and strive to apart of. Like those, featured in the magazines.

As previously noted, most Fashion and Beauty-led publications are released weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, whilst social media is instantaneous and more importantly, constant. How does this ever-lasting stream of so-called ‘ideals’, ‘perfection’, bloggers/vloggers and social media ‘famous’ affect our own ideas of our body image and self-perception? Does this form of media affect us and influence us in a different way to magazines? Is this due to content on social media in comparison to magazines? Do people still read magazines and see them as a form of influence, or are we more enticed by social media for quick access and ease?

These are some of the questions and thoughts I want to explore through my research in regards to body image and self-perception issues with the beauty and fashion worlds.

Ultimately, with publications the Editors and Writers are responsible for choosing the stories, models and articles which we are exposed to and deem as modern day ‘ideals’, but with social media, it is us the public in a way whom collectively chose whom is deemed this limelight, wealth of influential powers and the ability to ultimately say what is ‘in’. Furthermore, the occurrence of ‘hashtags’ has allowed brands and ‘influencers’ to release content in accordance, following trends, fads and the ever-so important world of ‘pop-culture’. So who, or what within the Fashion and Beauty industries is the most influential in regards to our body image and self-perception?

Below shows a list of current forms of visual media which cross-over both platforms and are becoming more associative of each other as the Industries slowly convert their content to digital mediums. Throughout my studies and research, I hope to look into these further on a more contextual and theoretical level, as well as on a visual basis:

  • Models and the Runway
  • Campaigns and Advertisements
  • Cultural Appropriation VS Cultural Appreciation
  • Trends, Celebrities and Pop-Culture
  • Bloggers and Vloggers
  • Selfie Culture
  • Fashion and Beauty Photography

Following this, I wanted to further explore this within the context of my research question, in order to effectively plan my time and resources going forward for both research and practical based projects.

I have executed this in the form of a mind-map in order to contextualise and understand the links between the two main forms of mass media I have decided to explore within the fashion and beauty industries, allowing me to both pose research topics and questions as to how these collectively affect our sense of body image and self-perception.

From the first mind-map shown below, I started off looking at magazines and social media within the context of my research question and proposal, however realised at this point that my question at the moment is quite vast and could be interpreted in different ways, whereas the areas I have stated for research and have initially been researching are not specifically mentioned in the question itself, more so in the rationale. Therefore, I have chosen to change the question from “How and why the Fashion and Beauty Industries affect our sense of body image and self-perception?” to, “How do Magazines and Social Media within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, affect our sense of body image and self-perception?” Not only does this clarify my research topic for my peer group and visitors to the blog, but also helps streamline my research and project planning further.

proposal-question-mind-map-1

A revised and more explosive, in-depth mind-map can also be seen below following changes noted as above. I am hoping to use this mind-map along with detailed plans for each of the three initial briefs to assess what research needs to be carried out and how I can do so effectively, objectives and aims for each module, as well as to assist with continual forward planning and initial reference points.

proposal-question-mind-map-1-1

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