Below shows a second draft of the report, with annotated feedback from my supervisor shown below. I was very surprised to find that there were mainly citation amends and grammatical changes opposed to content-led changes. I found this surprising as I struggled to get into writing the report at first, not quite knowing what tone of voice or structure to use, however felt reassured by this feedback.
Professional Context 1: Interim Report
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, adding a different dimension to the media than magazines. 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’ opposed to ideals being dictated.
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 am also interested in finding out the impacts of Western society, trends and brands dominating Eastern cultures in relation to the effects on ones self-perception and body image.
Research to date has worked towards answering my research question and learning objectives. This research has taken form of qualitative, quantitative, ethical interviews 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:
- To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:
- A) With body image (Females, 16-24)
- B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 16-24; Tokyo, Japan).
- To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries encouraging positive body image.
- To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis to compare thoughts, feelings and actions in relation to body image and self-perceptions.
- To prototype a range of design work targeted at 16-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image.
- To derive a National or International Policy for use within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, based on collated research, interviews and experiences throughout this project.
These are the objectives that I will continue to work towards throughout this project.
- Research Activity
2.1. Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners
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 further research and exploratory prototype work:
- Dunne and Raby
- Luisa Omielan
- Terry Richardson
- Anna Potter (Top Girl Studio)
- Barbara Kruger
- Jessica Jean
- Toni Hollowood
- Bobbie Gastall (Bobbie Rae)
- Scarlett Carson
Dunne and Raby (2007) have influenced my research and prototyping to date, utilising critical-design throughout my ‘Instagram Post’ project, allowing for “design proposals to challenge assumptions, preconceptions and givens”. Using this methodology has not only informed my practice, but also the direction of my research to date, with Instagram being a platform of promotion in order to directly engage and gain feedback from the target audience.
Anna Potter (2016) resonates with my practice utilising underlying satirical tones and cross-cultural contexts derived from media, cultural icons and the Internet particularly supporting my exploratory project titled, “What’s My Name Again?” in relation to message, tone, underlying context and aesthetics.
Discussion, debate and ideas generation, let to a collaborated with Bobbie Rae, an Interdisciplinary Practitioner in order to develop and strengthen practical ideas working towards a resolved visual Zine, “How to be a Blogger”. Working with Bobbi has allowed for a different perspective of an original idea to be considered, whilst adding a different aesthetic and tone to the concept, deriving a stronger outcome.
2.2. Organisations Supporting the Creative Industries
In my research I have noted that Studio Spaces and Recruitment Agencies are part of my professional practice, however have not had to drawn upon these to date. I have found it more relevant to draw upon my Industry contacts to secure Interviews and Meetings with individuals/organisations in an aim to work towards answering my research question and achieving my objectives.
- Industry Contacts/Links have secured Interviews/Meetings with:
- ASOS Corporate Responsibility and Design Team (ASOS HQ, London)
- Luisa Omielan (Comedian, London)
- Tam Dexter (Professional Model, Leicester)
- Zak Ahmed (CEO, Luxe to Kill and Runway96, Manchester)
- Toni Hollowood (MA Fashion Communication, CSM, London)
Social Media has again been invaluable in regards to feedback and local engagement allowing for interaction and further prototyping/idea development. I am hoping to engage with HE Institutions and Various Fashion Programmes in the UK in regards to talking to Japanese females (16-24), in order to gain International Eastern insights in a contrasting Western context.
- Social Media:
- HE Instituations:
- Leeds University
- Leeds Beckett
- UAL: Central St Martins (London)
- Manchester Metropolitan University
In my research I have noted that Self-Promotion is a key-part of my professional practice, in regards to working Internationally and establishing a cross-cultural client base, however this has not been the primary focus of my International context.
I have instead utilised various Self-Promotion platforms for promotion of my MA research and exploratory practical work in order to gain feedback, and share ideas with a critical-design led approach as noted above in relation to Instagram.
Self-Promotion Platforms include:
- Behance (www.behance.net/daniellemuntyan)
- Professional Website (www.daniellemuntyandesign.dunked.com)
- Social Media: Instagram (instagram.com/muntyandanielle)
In January (16th – 23rd) 2017 I will be visiting Tokyo in an aim to carry out cross-cultural field-research. To ensure research is carried out effectively to help answer my research question, the following research methodologies will be considered:
- Visual Research
- Comp Shopping
- Verbal Research:
- Focus Groups
- Publication (Magazine) Research
- Technological Research
I had hoped on engaging with HE Institutions and Various Fashion Programmes in Tokyo, Japan, in hope of talking to Japanese females (16-24), in order to gain insight on how social media and Western Brands can affect self-perception and body image. I have however been unable to make contact and therefore hope on speaking with Japanese females in the UK.
HE Institutions Tokyo, Japan:
- Bunka Fashion College
- Tokyo Mode Gakuen College of Fashion and Beauticians
I have been put in contact with a translator via Yuko Watanabe located in Tokyo by a contact at Tokyo Disney, should a interview/meeting arise.
2.3. Recent Advances in Technologies
Advances in technologies have in my opinion dictated the direction of promotional media within the industry and therefore has taken priority through research to date.
“Media helps us to shape beauty ideas by showing certain body sizes [as] beautiful and desirable” (Rumsey, 2012) allowing for social media platforms and magazines to participate in this creation, which can be intern damaging to the users/readers self-perception through the internalisation of idealised imagery.
A rise in associated technologies has become prevalent, in regards to Photo-Manipulation, Filters, VR, Augmented Reality and Photo-Recognition technologies allowing for further development in Application Design, UI/UX and Digital Graphic Design. A key example of advanced technologies is shown demonstrating how such technologies combined with ‘brand engagement’ can be positive to the ‘customer experience’, however potentially damaging to one’s self-perception due to one’s reflection not being ‘real’.
- Shisiedo Magic Makeup Mirror:
‘Makeup Mirrors’ originally created by Japanese cosmetics brand, Shiseido, allows for one to try on over 50 makeup products using highly advanced facial recognition technologies and augmented reality, showing a the positive impact of such advances. These generated images however can also create distorted perceptions in comparison to one’s true beauty and their actions – “when a person compares their own inner or self image to an image that has been [edited] it can pose the threat to self objectification and self absorption” (Slater and Tiggemann, 2015). In summary, it is technological advances such as this, along with issues surrounding Western ideals of ‘icons’ and bloggers’, which has informed my decision to research further into Japanese Culture.
(Image 1 – Shisiedo Makeup Mirror, Tokyo Flagship Store)
Through research to date, I have found policies and guidelines set by various organisations, charities and establishments to promote fair practice, social responsibility and ethical issues surrounding body image, model welfare and mental health within the media.
- B-EAT (UK)
- Model Alliance (US)
- British Fashion Council
- EDAW – Eating Disorder Awareness Week
- UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG)
B-EAT (UK) and the Model Alliance (US) for example, can support, advise, promote and encourage fair and ethical practice in the media, however there is not a binding set of guidelines that enforces all retailers, magazines and brands for example to follow 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:
The Social Responsibility team at ASOS founded the ‘Model Welfare Policy’, the only brand enforced guidelines ensuring that models have a healthy BMI and have no known mental health conditions, for example. I am interested to see whether such policies would be beneficial on a National or International scale corresponding with Objective 5.
- Parody Law:
Parody law is described as “[the] copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work” (Stem, 2010) and allows for entitlements as a designer to work with creative freedom commercially. In relation to my current practice, I am working with parody and satirical perspectives in relation to cultural icon, Kylie Jenner through the mocking of her branding to represent a range of key theories and issues that surround self-perception, body image and the media.
(Image 2 – Kylie Cosmetics Logo)
(Image 3 – Exploratory Project Work “What’s My Name Again?!”)
2.5. Theoretical Perspectives
I have researched various theoretical perspectives that underpin my current practice in order to find the most relevant in relation to my research question:
– Social Identity
– Male Gaze & Self-Surveying Gaze
It has proven evident that the main theories associative with both my practice and that of relevant creative practitioners are Self-Perception and Social Identity.
Self-Perception is key to my current practice shaping my prototyping work, whilst being the anchor point of my research question understanding that, “we interpret our own actions the way we interpret others’ actions, and our actions are often socially influenced and not produced out of our own free will” (Bem, 1972) highlighting how our self-perceptions are created from third-party perspectives in a bid to feel accepted.
Social Identity supports the Self-Perception Theory stating, “ones personal identity and sense of self, is formed through their acceptance or non-acceptance into a social group, and the retrospective intergroup comparisons” being relative to social media and comparative behaviours with perceived ‘ideals’.
In regard to the media, it is argued that “status is not considered here as a scarce resource or commodity, such as power or wealth; it is the outcome of intergroup comparison”, highlighting how the media for example can trigger internalized negative self-perception and intergroup comparison also in order to feel accepted (Turner and Tafjel, 1986).
This project has started encouragingly encompassing the groundwork of theory and contextual understanding in relation to my research question and objectives. Going forwards, I immediately plan on continuing contacting Industry Professionals, Bloggers and Brands in Tokyo ahead of my field-research trip. To support this, I plan on researching Japanese culture, socio-cultural ideals and expectations in further depth. In addition I have arranged a field-research trip to London (7th – 8th January 2017), whereby I plan on carrying out the same methodologies as noted in 2.2b that can be used comparatively in order to understand how International brands affect self-perceptions and body image on a cross-cultural scale.
Research Methodologies Include:
- Visual Research
- Comp Shopping
- Verbal Research: Interviews
- Publication (Magazine) Research
- Technological Research
Industry links have secured a meeting with ASOS’ Social Responsibility and Design Teams, whereby I will be discussing the ASOS Model Welfare and Positive Body Image policies further specifically in relation to my research question and objectives. Furthermore I plan on speaking with CSM MA student and designer Toni Hollowell, whilst interviewing a Supermodel and an International Female Blogger Collective, Milk and Honey, to gain a different insight and perspective regarding the issues noted in my research question.
Furthermore, as a result of idea-led discussions with Commercial Photographer Scarlett Carson, an exploratory collaboration allowing for an editorial and commercial perspective is currently being planned.
Word Count: 2199
Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology, 6, 1-62.
Dunne and Raby. (2007). Critical Design FAQ. Available: http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0. Last Accessed: 28th November 2016.
Rumsey, Nichola, and Diana Harcourt. (2012) The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Appearance. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print. 217
Slater and Tiggemann (2015). Psychology of Women Quarterly. The Mediating Role of Appearance Comparisons in the Relationship Between Media Usage and Self-Objectification in Young Women. P. Unknown.
Stim, R. (2010). What is Fair Use?. Available: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/. Last Accessed: 1st November 2016.
Turner, J. C., & Tajfel, H. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. Psychology of intergroup relations, 7-24.
[Image 1] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=shiseido+makeup+mirror&biw=1471&bih=1273&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWuqnvnszQAhXCAMAKHWGqAgIQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=qF5ISqPangXcyM%3A Last Accessed: 28/11/16
[Image 2] https://smediacacheak0.pinimg.com/564x/fb/2f/77/fb2f775c990326b393aa776bcb6330e3.jpg
Last Accessed: 28/11/16