Below shows the first draft of my report and feedback received, during a tutorial session with my supervisor. I found this session particularly session due to confusion initially as to whether the 2000 words should be an essay, or a report. Once clarified I found the report much easier to understand in regard to the amendments which needed to be made and why, in order to work efficiently and more accurately from the start allowing for better time keeping whilst initially getting started.
The feedback also highlighted that I could talk about my research topic in relation to local, national and international context being more relevant than studios and exhibition spaces at this point in my practice, which I feel was holding me up also on utilising the key content required to meet the set learning objectives for the module.
As I have not written academically also since my BA dissertation, I found it took some time to get back into the style of writing, adapting to a different tone of voice and triangulation to that I have been used to recently in my professional working practice.
Below shows the revised report in relation to the feedback noted and discussed above.
Research Question: “A cross-cultural study in an aim to understand ‘how Social Media and Magazines within the Beauty and Fashion Industries affect our sense of body image and self-perception?’”
This report aims to contextualise progress to date in regards to resolving my working research question underpinned by a range of both professional contexts and theoretical perspectives.
As a Graphic Designer working with the Beauty and Fashion Industries on a National and International scale, I encounter ethical, social and cross-cultural issues such as, working with photography of objectified and emaciated female models. Such issues led me to question how messages being communicated may be perceived and internalised by the viewer, shaping my research question.
The Fashion and Beauty Industries are becoming more digitised through advanced technologies of Social Media and Beauty Applications for example, therefore I am interested to see how such platforms are affecting the self-perceptions of young females Internationally (16-24) with users having full curational control of both uploaded content and ‘live feed’.
In regards to a cross-cultural and International context, I am particularly interested in Japan, exploring how young females (16-24) are both represented and perceived through social media and magazines in response to the rise in blogger culture, and obsession with cultural icons.
I have undertaken a vast range of research to date working towards answering my research question and learning objectives. This research has taken form of qualitative, quantitative and critical-design led approaches that have shaped the direction of my current practice and methodologies.
My original proposal stated the following objectives in relation to my research question:
My research to date has led me to a range of Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners whom resonate with my practice both in regards to theory, message and design, supporting the foundations for both further theoretical and contextual research and exploratory practical work:
- Dunne and Raby
- Luisa Omeilan
- Terry Richardson
- Sam Roddick
- Barbara Kruger
- Anna Potter (Top Girl Studio)
- Milk and Honey
- Jessica Jean
- Toni Hollowood
- Bobbie Gastall (Bobbie Rae)
- Scarlett Carson
[make dunne and raby one of main people in relation ton instagram project]
Due to underlying satirical tones and cultural contexts, Luisa Omelian and Anna Potter are extremely resonant in relation to my practice. Omelian is a Comedian whom discusses issues of Body Image and Mental Health in a female context, taking a focus on cultural and societial issues and trends. Potter, also known by her pseudonym of ‘Top Girl Studio’, is a Graphic Designer whom mocks trivial issues derived from media, cultural icons and the Internet through the use of typography, copywriting, poster design and publication design. In relation to exploratory and developing practical projects, it is apparent through message, tone, underlying context and aesthetic that such practitioners have inspired by practice whilst supporting it contextually.
Furthermore, through discussion, debate and ideas generation, I have formed collaborations with Bobbie Rae, an Interdisciplinary Practitioner in order to develop, push, refine and strengthen practical ideas working towards a resolved visual supporting my working research question.
Organisations Supporting the Creative Industries
Below shows a range of local organisations that I currently engage with on a regular basis to support and develop my practice.
- Networking/Idea Sharing Groups: Penguin Posse at HEART
- The Calls, Studio Space/Mentoring; shared with Gaz Battersby
- Recruitment Agencies: The Book, Orchard
Noted below are national organisations that currently support my current practice. Debut Magazine are particularly resonant with my current practice, positioning themselves as a publication that supports females working in the creative industries. I recently began with Debut as a Freelance Art Editor, and feel this along with associative networking groups with only further support not only my current practice, but my working research question also.
- Debut Magazine/Graphik Magazine
- Recruitment Agencies: Tailsman Fashion, Fashion & Retail Personnel, Denza, Elite Associates, Christian Bassett
- Networking Groups: Magma and Laurence King, Debut Magazine
Below shows a list of self-promotion strategies and recruitment agencies used to promote my practice on an international scale. I have found Behance in particular, along with my professional website to be most effective in regards to reaching clients in countries such as Kuwait and Australia. Not only is Behance for example, beneficial to working as a Freelance designer, networking and generating ‘work’ for instance, I also find this platform invaluable for sharing work, ideas and ultimately, conveying a message to an international audience, which is what I feel continues to push and develop my current practice.
- Professional Website
- Big Cartel Store
- Social Media: Professional Instagram, Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn
- Recruitment Agencies: Christian Bassett (London. Europe. USA. Middle East. Asia Pacific & Japan), Drapers, The BoF
2.3. Recent Advances in Technologies
Whilst technologies and social media have become more developed, advanced and interlinked with my professional practice, it has become natural to use such digital platforms as discussed above to promote and support my practice. However, in regards to my working research question, recent advances in technologies specifically within the beauty and fashion industries has in my opinion dictated the direction of promotional media and therefore has taken much focus throughout my research to date. Fashion Magazines allow for Editors to dictate content, norms, trends and ‘ideals’ whilst social media allows for users, brands and cultural icons alike to curate and dictate their own instant, visual streams taking the focus away from print due to instant accessibility to connect and share on an international and cross-cultural range of platforms.
Platforms designed for ‘photo-sharing’, such as Instagram can be looked at in both a positive and negative light depending on ones perception and use. Instagram positively allows for individuals to share or privately curate their memories, or artwork, for example, whilst also allowing for individuals to share and explore within international communities. Furthermore, in a world whereby ‘ideals’ are pre-determined by the media, this platform allows for users to participate and obtain a sense of inclusivity if one withholds the right identity, which can be intern damaging to ones self-perception through the internalisation of idealised imagery.
Furthermore, a rise in associated technologies has become prevalent of late, in regards to photo-editing, filters, VR, Augmented Reality and Photo-Recognition technologies allowing for further development in application design, in-store retail design and digital graphic design.
Below shows a key example of advanced technologies, showing how UI and UX development combined with ‘brand engagement’ can be positive to the ‘customer experience’, however due to ones reflection not being ‘real’ may heavily impact upon ones self-perception and confidence in return.
- Beauty Mirrors
‘Beauty Mirrors’ were originally created by Japanese cosmetics brand, Shiseido, and allows for one to try on a full range of makeup products using highly advanced facial recognition technologies. Even though this saves one time trying products on in-store, how does one feel if the reflection does not match their interpretation of recreating this look? Furthermore, L’Oreal created an app titled, ‘Makeup Genius’ for use in China allowing for women whom feel stigmatised by cosmetics to feel comfortable trying them in their own home, showing a positive and pro-active use to boosting confidence through technologies, however on the flipside it is apparent how these generated images can created distorted perceptions in comparison to one’s true beauty.
In support of my current practice and working research question, there are policies set by various organisations and establishments to ensure that fair practice, social responsibility and ethical issues are considered in regards to body image and mental health.
- Clear Channel
- Model Alliance
- British Fashion Council
- EDAW – Eating Disorder Awareness Week
- UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG)
- Government Equalities Unit
- Equalities Ministers Advisory Group
The above organisations such as B-EAT for example, can support, advise, promote and encourage fair and ethical practice in the media, when issues regards body image and mental health arise, however there is not a binding set of guidelines which enforces all retailers, magazines and brands for example to follow in relation to proactively promote positive body image. This allows for different ‘ideals’ to be portrayed by the media causing mixed messages and perceptions for the viewer.
- ASOS Model Welfare Policy/Social Responsibility
In contrast to the above, the Social Responsibilty team at ASOS founded the ‘Model Welfare Policy’. This policy ensures that their guidelines are abided by at all times, to ensure that models fall into a healthy BMI category, have no existing medical conditions and ‘fit in’ with a range of International body shapes, sizes and ‘ideals’ amongst much more. ASOS are one of the only ecommerce retailers to re-photograph non own-brand goods to ensure fair practice. I have arranged a meeting with ASOS for January 2017, and hope to discuss their policy further in depth. I hope to gain professional perspectives in relation to the fashion industry, body and self-perception allowing to strengthen, support and develop both my practice and on-going research.
- Parody Law
In relation to my current practice, I am working with parody and satirical perspectives in regards to my practical experiments to date and have at times heavily mocked the cultural icon, Kylie Jenner in regards to being objectified as a marketing commodity, encouraging changes in self-perception and promoting body dissatisfaction amongst the masses. By using a parody to represent such ‘icon’ through the mocking of her branding to represent a range of key theories and issues that surround this issue, I felt it was of upmost importance to ensure that I am complying with Parody Law which protects creatives from legal issues such as Copyright. Even though I am not directly using copyrighted material, but simply mocking it, I believe it is still good practice to be aware of such policies that support my practice.
2.5. Theoretical Perspectives
With my working research question being quite broad, I have naturally researched various theoretical perspectives that underpin my current practice:
– Social Identity Theory
– Male Gaze & Self-Surveying Gaze
– Gratification Theory
– Objectification Theory
– Self-Objectification Theory
I have found that the main theories which are associative with both my practice and that of relevant creative practitioners to be that of Self-Perception and Social Identity.
Self-Perception is integral part of my current practice shaping my exploratory practical work to date, being the anchor point of my research question understanding how we recognise and value ourselves based on third party perspectives, such as social media comments for example, whilst Social Identity Theory shows how ones personal identity and sense of self, is formed through their acceptance or non-acceptance into a social group, and the retrospective intergroup comparisons, again being relative to social media and comparative behaviours with perceived ‘ideals’ for example.
These theories are also extremely resonant with the works of both Omeilan and Potter as noted previously, with Omeilan highlighting issues of Self-Perception in her stage show, “Am I Right Ladies?” whilst Potter’s work titled, “iGirl” mocking the relationship and competitive, altered behaviours that many females have with social media and photo-sharing in relation to ‘fitting in’ and conforming with societies pre-set ideals.
Word Count: 1986