This is working towards objective 1.
I came across this weekly magazine in my local CO-OP whilst waiting in a queue. I do not normally purchase such magazines, however felt obliged to purchase this in regards to research purposes. I saw the cover and was instantly taken back by the relevance in association to my research question, and more relevant, my current exploratory practical works and concepts focusing on the fashion and beauty industries and how they can unknowingly at times, affect our self-perception.
I have used Kylie Jenner as a focus throughout one of my initial projects being a natural progression from the success of initial one-off Instagram posts focusing on the power of her icon status and subsequent beauty brands, in turn influencing our self-perception through a following of almost 80m on Instagram, in addition to her app and TV shows for example.
Furthermore, the idea of competition within this article was intriguing, “Kylie tried to steal Kim’s crown” especially between two sisters, with Kylie in the photograph shown on the cover below, donning a Kim Kardashian ‘pose’ and donning a similar physique. At the same time, she is consciously pulling up her top to reveal her body, taking the photograph herself, showing how technology and media can drive a media storm making front page ‘news’. Being conscious of this Kylie is objectifying herself (self-objectification) knowing what sort of reaction she will receive from her following and the media alike. But does this self-objectification and narcissist trait perhaps, resonate with the ‘icon’ themselves that they are causing potential damage to those who view such imagery and articles, altering their perceptions and beliefs in turn? It is obvious that magazines such as Star, have no objection with objectifying, and showcasing women theirselves in order to gain sales.
Furthermore, as also touched on in my previous research and practice is the current fad of ‘lip fillers’ within the beauty and fashion industries, with celebrities, bloggers and icons alike seen with such augmentations. In addition to this, on the cover are also procedures such as ‘nose jobs’ and bottom implants. What I did notice however was that even though the headline “surgery shockers” at first appears quite negative, with the subtitles supporting this negativity in a sense of shock of ‘bad changes’ and bad perceptions. None of these procedures and the ‘finished looks’ have been seen as ‘beautiful’, ‘ideal’ or ‘perfect’ by the writers, and have instead been relayed with such terms as “destroyed her lips” and “wonky” suggesting to the reader, for once, that perhaps this is not such a good idea and infact can cause judgements and negative perceptions. Will this overtime impact on ones self-esteem through the gaze of others, leading to the self-surveying gaze to shine through and alter ones body again – but was this why the surgery was done in the first place? And are they changing due to feeling like they don’t fit in? This is resonant of Tafjel and Turner’s (1979) Identity theory where one may change their appearance to ‘fit in’ being “out-group”, and by making such changes to become “in-group” they feel as though they will be ‘accepted’. I believe that this is the same for celebrities and icons, feeling the need to compete and constantly comply with trends and the actions of those around them in-order to maintain a positive identity, and sense of positive self-perceptions. However, this as also noted in Taflej and Turner’s (1979) model that this cycle can cause depression, mental health issues, anxiety and eating disorders for example.
I feel looking at this cover alone, I have already noted Fredrickson and Robers (2008) Objectification and Self-Objectification theories, Tafjel and Turners’ (1979) Identity Theory, Shields (2013) Self-Surveying Gaze and Bem’s (1972) Self-Perception theory, and feel as though these can be relayed throughout the articles also noted below, but more importantly show how many issues, topics and debates can arise from only a very small segment of research and examples. I feel also that this cover alone evidences many of the points I have made, or am trying to raise through my current practice and research, and feel it is research and current examples such as this which evidence and satisfy my research question.
I am interested to compare such covers and articles to that of more ‘highbrow’ magazines to see comparatively how such topics of discussion are relayed in regards to both, copywriting and visuals.
I have made bullet points below in regards to the other scanned in articles, in relation to my research question, research to date and current practice.
Above – left page:
- ‘Thigh-gap social media fad’ as noted in previous research in relation to Luisa Omielan and Anne Robert’s “Body Image Secrets” documentary, being explicitly showcased by Kylie Jenner due to her body positioning and pose.
- Competitive tone used in headline suggesting competition with one and other, even siblings, to be perceived as the ‘best’, ‘perfect’, ideal’ both in terms of figure, beauty and social media status.
- Highlights previous research and focus in practical work (Instagram posts/well being campaign proposal) on photo-manipulation using photoshop, filters and apps.
- This article notes the “fails” of doing-so which highlights to me how this could then alter one’s perception and self-perception through being exposed to having a different physique as put out for so long in the media, whilst using such editing methods can also be frowned upon by those who look unto icons, but then do it themselves, hinting also at double standards. This is also noted above in the article, “What a hypocrite! Telling young girls not to get plastic surgery yet she photoshops a photo to make herself look thinner”.
- “All this photoshopping just shows how inadequate they feel about themselves” is a quote from a ‘commenter’ quoted by Star, highlighting the points made above.
- Photoshopping and any form of photo-manipulation – does this highlight our insecurity of our identities and by making such changes one attempts to alter this in order to ‘fit in’ and be accepted?
- Highlights the heavily researched and discussed topic of ‘natural’ within the beauty industry currently, especially in relation to Tarte cosmetics for example (see previous posts). The same taboo topic is also noted in the article, “fans have blasted her a hypocrite for altering her snaps, after she recently promoted natural beauty with an anti-survey campaign” after having a range of procedures done such as, breast augmentations, lip fillers and botox, and previously admitting she had gone overboard.
- I found this page in particular interesting showcasing celebrities in their ‘natural’ state which I found quite compelling in a positive way. I feel even though these types of magazines are usually know for their celebrity filled covers and brash headlines, however feel very surprised by how none of these articles really in a direct way encourage lip fillers for example. Above shows another example, relaying to the viewer that celebrities are real people, and do not look flawless all the time. However, as shown below, ways to then change ourselves are advertised on a following page showcasing new and on-trend beauty products.
- Some of the quotes used and comments made resonate with the idea of self-perception, identity and belonging as under ‘Ashley Greene’, it is noted “it’s nice to know [she] looks just like us”, almost seeking acceptance and validity for how we look without makeup. Furthermore, celebrities such as Charlotte Crosby have been recorded stating “EmbraceTheForeHead tag a friend who has a MASSIVE forehead” allowing her social media following to know that she is okay with her insecurities and wants you to be okay with yours, and your friends, and hers also. I feel that this is something which could be done by ‘icons’ perhaps in ‘even higher places’ with much much influence, however this would then damage their reputation and the identity they have built through shaping perceptions.
- As previously noted above, even though the articles analysed do not directly encourage one to go and get plastic surgery for example, and in fact does shed a more negative light on it than a positive change, a few pages later, a beauty page appears with ways in which are encouraged in order to change your appearance to reach an ‘ideal’ or a certain look, as shown by featuring Cheryl Cole as a visual reference.
- I also found it interesting that sponsored products (L’Oreal) are noted in regards to Cole, and therefore maintains her reputation and identity built with the brand, whilst also her image, and power to sell products in order to get the exact look she has been photographed wearing, is only in the best interest of the brand. Therefore, often our perceptions and self-perceptions are designed and curated by the brand and icon powers at large at a particular moment in time.
STAR Magazine, Issue 659, 24th October 2016