“Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful” by Gillian Rose (2012)

Below shows extracts of Rose’s “Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful” (2012) book, looking at the relationship between Panopticism as founded by Foucault, and the ideology that brands depict scenarios and images through photography which are often seen and recognised as ‘real’ opposed to a set up scenario. This shows one how one can be influenced by imagery seen in magazines, social media and advertisements for example, and how this could possibly affect ones self-perception and the perception of others alike, in turn causing a tutored sense of self, relating back to Shields and Heineken’s ‘Self-Surveying/Internalised Gaze’ theory as discussed heavily in my research during Semester 1.

Furthermore, it is discussed that brand ambassadors, and the likes of modern day bloggers and vloggers whom have become cultural icons in themselves become the face of the brand therefore imposing an ideal and an image which can be unattainable and unmaintainable, however is aspired to as a result of advertising exposure. In addition, it is also noted that cultural and social differences should be acknowledged and understood when analysing advertising campaigns and photography, therefore implying how imagery can be perceived differently to a knowing eye; as seen in my Japan VS British/US research into the beauty and fashion industries, i.e. Shiseido and Vogue.






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“Visual Methodologies” by Gillian Rose, (2007)

The below is taken from “Visual Methodologies” by Gillian Rose (2007), and discusses the ideology of Panopticism and Surveillance as profoundly noted by Foucault, and how this translates to photography. My tutor noted this theoretical approach to me during a tutorial, which I felt resonated with the modern day world of social media and idea of ‘cultural icons’, whereby consciously or unconsciously we are under continuous surveillance of ourselves, and of other people, being monitored through photographs. Tagg further notes in regard to photography that photography has no real identity, whilst Foucault argues that most have the understanding that most see a photograph and depict this as ‘real’, opposed to an institutionalised process created through technology; as seen in magazines and social media using apps and filters, relating back to modern day and the surrounding issues of self perception.


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Dissertation: Chapter 1 (Context of my Practice) – Draft 2

Following my first draft of Chapter 1, this was reviewed by my tutor and feedback was given in order to strengthen triangulation and particular theoretical arguments, adding in elements of Foucault’s Panopticism theory and Bauman’s perspective on the ‘Universal Elite’.
Changes have been made applying this feedback and utilising additional research which has been carried out in response.
A revised draft of this chapter can be found below.
Chapter 1 – Context of My Practice
As a graphic designer working within the beauty and fashion industries, on a National and International scale, ethical, social and cross-cultural issues such as, working with photography of objectified and emaciated female models are often encountered. Such issues led me to investigate the ways in which 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, adding a different dimension to the media in comparison to magazines, allowing for the end-user to be in curational control of their appearance and ‘live feed’ opposed to being dictated to by publishing editors. Therefore, an interest in investigating how such platforms are affecting the self-perceptions of young females Internationally (18-24) has been developed.
In relation to social media and beauty publications surrounding the fashion industry, there are many theories which have been derived. Each highlights different perspectives that encompass the topic of self-perception, and allow for extreme cross-cultural analysis, in particular focusing on the UK and Japan as major comparatives.
Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory allows for a multitude of theoretical perspectives to be considered in context. In particular, ‘Panopticism’ (Foucault, 1977), ‘The Mirror Stage’ theory (Lacan, 1936, Hesse-Biber, 1996), the ‘Social Identity’ theory (Turner and Tajfel, 1986) and ‘The Self-Surveying Gaze’ theory (Shields and Heineken, 2002) allow for a foundation to be built upon, opening up discussion of different cross-cultural perspectives.
These theoretical approaches allow for a deeper understanding of various modern ideologies, contemplating how social media and beauty publications can affect ones self-perception and the perceptions of others, whilst understanding the issues behind which they were once derived.
1.1. The Self-Perception Theory and Panopticism
Rumsey (2012) states that “[the] media help us to shape beauty ideas by showing certain body sizes [as] beautiful and desirable”, summarising how both the beauty and fashion industries alike can affect our self-perception due to a pre-determined ‘ideal’ that is embedded in our subconscious. Furthermore, Rumsey insinuates that the media in particular is responsible for choosing who, and what is seen as the ‘ideal’, shaping and creating unattainable and unmaintainable aspirations for women causing body dissatisfaction and poor self-perceptions.
In regard to this, social media and magazines opens doors for self-perceptions to be distorted, being formed by the views of others, opposed to ourselves. (Bem, 1972) notes this, stating that both our actions and appearances are ‘socially informed’, opposed to being self-led.
“Self-perception theory is counterintuitive … In simple terms, it illustrates that ‘we are what we do.’ According to self-perception theory, 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, as we might expect” (Self Perception Theory, Online, 2016). This reinforces that we may change our appearances for positive appraisal, based on the views, or perceptions of others, consciously or unconsciously in a bid to feel accepted within specific social, or digital circles, i.e. Instagram communities.
In context of the beauty and fashion industries, this is further supported by claims from Wong (2012), whom notes that we only present ourselves in a way in which we want to be seen – “self-presentation among people tended to lean towards their desired selves and away from their undesired selves”, hinting at an increasingly self-aware and narcissistic digital culture, particularly in relation to Instagram whereby one has complete control over their projected image – “presenting oneself on the internet sites was aimed to convey desired images to the others”. In support of this, Kraut et al., (1998) noted that a world of self-curated galleries on Instagram for example, allows the above to happen autonomously, naturally and distinctively in a world where “internet usage in particular, will continue to transform social life on a global scale” allowing for perceptions, critiques and judgements to take place.
This is demonstrated with celebrity culture, for example. Figure 1, shows a photograph of Kim Kardashian taken from her Instagram account, whilst Figure 2, shows a comparative image of Makeup Artist/Instagram Icon, Amreezy, taken from her account – both of which show that they are holding similar poses in similar attire, with similar postures and facial features. This example alone represents how social media and replicated images can affect ones self-perception, whereby it is okay to perceive ourselves, or see ourselves in a similar light to others in order to attain positive appraisal and acceptance. The public can use various aspirations, and socio-culturally accepted ‘ideals’ formed around cultural icons to shape our own identities and egos, opposed to forming our own.
Furthermore, the idea of ‘celebrity culture’ as discussed by Rogers (1999) having a negative impact upon ones self-perception, and the self perception theory (Bem, 1972) is further supported through Foucaults (1977, P.210) panopticism theory, whereby the idea of power constitutes the idea of never being ‘invisible’ to the public eye. This introduces the ideology of ‘self surveillance’, relating particularly to modern day social media and status. This is evident with the examples of both Kim Kardashian, and Amreezy (Figure 1 and Figure 2) as discussed above, whereby approval and ‘likes’ via Instagram communities constitutes positive self-perception and “a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power” (Foucault, 1977, P.200). Utilising power in a modern day, cross-cultural society enables one to easily gain ‘acceptance’ via photography, be it a recognised icon or not – reflected by the ‘blogger boom’ surrounding both the beauty and fashion industries.
Whether photography is shared, or seen via social media or in magazines, supports the panopticism theory, especially in regard to the production of an image and the various technologies and processes behind it. Foucault (1977, P.26) claims that, “[photographs are] rarely formulated in continuous, systematic discourse … often made up of bits and pieces … a disparate set of tools and methods”, highlighting a conscious, yet highly staged process to modern day photography, (photo shoots and ‘selfies’ for example) which comes with power from either a particular brand, or person. Tagg (1988) supports this theoretical perspective stating that, “status [within] technology varies with the power relations that invest [in] it”, such as celebrities and bloggers, allowing for viewers to believe that all photography is real and truthful in all aspects, and not set up and digitally manipulated through technological power and skill (Rose, 2007). Furthermore, Rose (2012), states that; “photography is often thought of as picturing reality”, implies that fabricated realities may impact on the self-perception, confidence and self-esteem of the viewer, be it an Instagram photo, or an editorial shoot for Vogue magazine.
Rose’s ideology on visual semiology (2012) supports the theoretical approach of panopticism (Foucault, 1977 and Tagg, 1988), and Bem’s (1972) self perception theory, claiming that;
“Unlike any other visual technology, there is a sense in which the camera is an instrument that records what was in front of its lens when the shutter snapped; and although photographic images can be framed and filtered and cropped, and can subsequently be manipulated in all sorts of ways and put to all sorts of uses.”
This further reinforces that visual, photographic references, either in the form of print or digital mediums, can cause negative self perceptions, and cause false perceptions of those around us, perhaps due to the naivety of the viewer.
1.2. Social Identity Theory
In support of Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory, Tajfel and Turner state that, “individuals strive to achieve or to maintain positive social identity” (1986, P.16), alluding to the idea that we may change our appearance for positive praise and acceptance within our different social circles, opposed to self-gratifying reasoning.
Tajfel and Turner (1986) stated that;
“Part of a person’s concept of self comes from the groups to which that person belongs. An individual does not just have a personal selfhood, but multiple selves and identities associated with their affiliated groups. A person might act differently in varying social contexts according to the groups they belong to, which might include … their family, their country of nationality, and the neighbourhood they live in, among many other possibilities”
This ideology can also be applied cross-culturally to that of magazines and social media, along with that of individuals. This reflects the possibilities of changing ones’ social identity intentionally to appeal to a particular social group; digitally or in person.
The Social Identity model (Figure 3) shows how personal identity and a sense of self can be formed through either acceptance or non-acceptance into a chosen social group, with retrospective intergroup comparisons. Once accepted within a particular group, one will be classified as ‘in-group’, allowing for comparative behaviours to arise with those who do not identify with such groups, classified, ‘out-group’. This denotes the concept of ‘us’ and ‘them’ in retrospect, causing competitive behaviours, altered perceptions and self-perceptions in turn. Social comparison can however, cause poor self-perception and negative behaviours via the comparison of ‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’ members.
In relation to the modern day beauty and fashion industries, Mary F Rogers (1999) notes that ‘cultural icons’, such as celebrities and models, form the standardised ‘in-group’ of today’s societies, whereby followers and admirers form the ‘out-group’. This encourages said ‘out-group’ individuals to feel the need to be constantly striving and working towards such standardisation and acceptance of a particular group or community. In support, Rogers (1999) states that, “[people have] the desire to avoid punishment and accrue rewards”, whilst Turner and Tajfel (1986), state evidently that, “social status … is the outcome of intergroup comparison”. This is often seen in digital circles, whereby images are posted on Instagram, in order to gain ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ gaining confirmation of acceptance via intergroup comparisons.
However, on the contrary, Campbell (1987), argues that in regards to beauty and fashion, “[social] identity in the modern world takes the form of ‘discovering their true identity by a process of monitoring their responses to the various styles that are brought to their attention … as a part of a process of coming to realise ‘who they really are’” (Crane, 2012) opposed to shaping personal identity through intergroup comparisons. In contrast Bovone (2012) claims that beauty and fashion “[provide] aesthetic choices that enable the consumer either to conform or to rebel” to the pre-described ideals and standards which society sets out for the masses. This argument denotes that an individual seeks to find their ‘social identity’ through external responses to chosen aesthetic choices and the opinions of others, opposed to adhering to intergroup comparisons as noted by Tajfel and Turner (1986).
Bovone’s (2012) theory on social identity rings true in Japanese culture, for example, particularly in relation to sub-cultures of ‘decora fashion’, known to be derived in the district of Harajuku, Tokyo, whereby ‘identity’ is formed through a rebellious nature of conformity. The Japanese proverb ‘the nail that sticks out must get hammered down’ (出る釘は打たれる), is well known in regard to differentiation being met by resistance (Hashi, 2012). Baumen (2000) notes that, “it is such patterns, codes and rules to which one could conform, which one could select as stable orientation points and by which one could subsequently let oneself be guided” showing how a change in attitude could be adhered to, moving on from “universal comparison” and the “blueprints” of the expectations of a particular society.
1.3. The Mirror Stage Theory
Self-perceptions are developed from an early age, allowing for a conscious sense of self-awareness and selfhood to be derived, whilst allowing for change overtime. The Oxford Dictionary, describes ‘selfhood’ as “the quality that constitutes one’s individuality; the state of having an individual identity”.
Lacan’s (1936) mirror stage theory, notes a child at 18 months, first recognises oneself in a mirror and becomes conscious of selfhood, recognising that he or she is an individual and is separate to others; “it begins the process of developing an identity distinct from others and yet, at the same time, dependant on the images of others to determine itself”.
Hesse-Biber (1996, P.13) re-enforced the mirror stage theory, noting that a reflection of oneself can affect our thoughts, actions and behaviours, whilst affecting a sense of self-perception. However, Hesse-Biber (1996, P.31) also claims that this is a result of comparing oneself to the societal ideals portrayed in the media such as magazines and social platforms, whereby “the concept of a mirror gives us an analogy for how society fosters women’s obsession [with their] body image”, in turn seeing the mirror as a symbol of commercialisation and standardisation opposed to individualisation as Lacan (1936) discusses.
Freud argues that, “the mirror itself is a ‘double’, where the person is oneself and the image the person sees is another self … since this produces a double image, what is visible may actually be invisible or altered through our own perceptions” (Lind, 2009), whereby we make solitary decisions in regards to our sense of self-hood. This contradicts Tajfel and Turner’s (1986) social identity theory by claiming that there is a constant battle between conscious and unconscious thought in regard to our appearance, opposed to being constructed through intergroup comparison.
Furthermore, Stratton (1996) claimed that, “[with enough work] people can construct the appearance that they want. Such understanding emphasises the visual, pointing towards a world of gazes, mirrors and spectacles where they eye is the central sense and the body is its major focus”.  This is particularly resonant in regard to social media and magazines surrounding the beauty and fashion industries, whereby the camera, or public eye becomes a mirror, allowing for distorted self-perceptions and self-analysis, with one therefore being unable to recognise what is real, or not, adding pressure to look a certain way.
1.4. The Male Gaze and The Self-Surveying Gaze/Gratification Theory
In regard to seeking social acceptance and approval of ones ‘image’, the male gaze theory is prevalent. Shields and Heinecken (2002) states that this theory “transforms women into objects of the heterosexual man’s eye … advertisements and other images of women are shot in such ways that encourage female audiences to adopt a certain perspective when looking at other women and themselves”, internalizing the male gaze and the pre-set ideals of the media triggering, ‘the self-surveying gaze’, or the gratification theory, which in turn can dampen self-perceptions.
The male gaze theory allows women to be seen as objects, and has been used within beauty and fashion marketing strategies for decades. However, the self-surveying or gratification theory allows women to adopt different perspectives in order to see themselves through the eye of the third person, opposed to how they actually perceive themselves. This then allows for women to judge other women in the same vein – through a male lens. By doing so one is put under continuous pressure, feeling the ‘gaze’ consciously from different angles.
This is reflected in Figure 4 and Figure 5. Figure 4 shows 1950’s Playboy Bunnies in Chicago, whereby they were objects of both male attention and the male gaze, wearing their bunny-suits proudly, in turn becoming the ‘ideal’ and ‘sex symbols’ of the era, whilst figure 5, shows how self-perception can become unrecognisable through the self-surveying gaze. Shields and Heinecken (2002) state that this can be “overwhelming, and in turn, distorted”, whereby, one becomes unable to recognise the ‘ideal’, nor reality, adding additional pressure to look a certain way and conform to a socio-culturally pre-set ‘norm’. In support, Johnson (2008, P.207), pins this on the ideology of a brand marketing strategy noting that; “’product [or brand] ambassadors’ … [are not] aimed at selling anything specific, but instead work to give a brand a certain set of values or a certain emotional association”, in turn aiming to change one’s sense of self through reflected and standardised ideals, advertising, and in addition, both the internal and external gazes.
The self-surveying gaze, or gratification theory, unlike the male gaze theory, does not pin the blame on the media for altering self-perceptions and thoughts. Instead it focuses on how one uses and perceives the media, emphasising the importance of individual choices, and the choices of the brands creating the visual content initially (Raccke, 2008). This is evident with the Playboy brand for example, as noted above, as well as in various Japanese Shisedio advertisements (Figure 6 and 7).
Figures 6 and 7 show how this theory has been used within marketing strategies. Shiseido often used a woman’s gaze in a mirror, hinting at both self-analysis and self-awareness. Rather than being exposed to external gazes, internalised gazes become prevalent and subside at the forefront of ones self-perception. In relation to brand-led advertising, Arvidsson (2005, P.244) states that, “the brand, or ‘brand image’, began to refer instead to the significance that commodities acquired in the minds of consumers”, implying that individuals are almost taught ‘self hood’, opposed to it being self derived.
Klein (2013) states that this strategy builds on comparison of the self, through recognising “the susceptibilities in [women]” and utilising this within advertising ideologies allowing for the following of an ‘ideal’, whilst Hesse-Biber (2006) notes “girls already vulnerable to self-esteem or body image issues are most negatively impacted” by such methods. By choosing to engage with such comparisons and internalised gazes, body dissatisfaction is more likely to occur. This is evident in modern day with social media and magazines, whereby a camera lens, a selfie or a celebrity become the comparative.
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Dissertation: Chapter 2 (Research Methods) – Draft 1

Below shows the first chapter of my dissertation as a draft, in line with the structure and plans made prior. These can be found on separate blog posts. This chapter outlines my research methodology and research methods, falling in line with my research and practical work to date.

Any feedback given from my supervisor will be implemented, recorded and documented.

Chapter 2 – Method of Practice

This chapter introduces the methodologies and ethical practices used throughout this cross-cultural study, in order to attain a body of information to understand the ways in which self-perception and body image of young women, is affected through the rise of a digital social media culture and the publishing industries alike.

2.1. Methodology

Two research philosophies have been utilised throughout research studies taking a pragmatic and an interpretivist approach, allowing for a large range of data to be collated and analysed. A pragmatic approach enables multiple research methods to be carried out, enabling both quantitative and qualitative findings, understanding that “there are many different ways of interpreting [and undertaking] research [and that], no single point of view can ever give the entire picture” accepting that their may be different viewpoints or realities to consider (Saunders, 2012), whilst an interpretivist approach allows for in-depth investigations to be carried out in order to collect specific pieces of information. An interpretivist approach, appreciates that “different people of different cultural backgrounds, under different circumstances and at different times make different meanings, and so create and experience different social realities” (Saunders, 2012), taking into consideration different viewpoints and perspectives.

Both qualitative and quantitative research methods that have been used for this cross-cultural study, exploring how data has been collected and analysed in relation to both subject matter and theoretical perspectives, in an aim to competently understand the scope of my working research question in context. Easterby-Smith et al (2008) claims that researchers should collect both primary or secondary data in order to build a viable body of research to support methodologies and working research questions.

2.2. Structured and Semi Structured Interviews

A range of qualitative structured and semi-structured interviews have been conducted in an aim to understand different cross-cultural perspectives of how the beauty and fashion industries may affect ones self-perception, whilst further exploring surrounding issues and sub-cultures derived from a modern-day cause for concern. An interpretivist approach has been carried out with interviews in both the UK and in Tokyo, Japan, appreciating and emphasising “the importance of language, culture and history” (Crotty 1998).

Interviews aim to provide a range of in-depth findings (Collis and Hussey, 2003). Semi-structured interviews aimed to provide findings through informal discussions with participants, whilst structured and formal interviews were carried out to ensure that specific information was collated to support or negate theoretical and cultural cross-perspectives, relative to secondary literary research methodologies and further research methods explored to date. Questions and/or audio recordings taken with a dictaphone, can be found in the appendix, along with a list of posed questions and summaries of findings relative to each interview.

Collecting comparative primary research during this study was reliant on accessing and visiting appropriate candidates in both the UK and Tokyo, Japan, using both existing and new, industry contacts and links to secure relevant interviews and meetings in order to collect relevant data. In total, 9 specific participants were chosen to interview, in order to gain diverse perspectives in relation to the cross-cultural study outlined within my research question. Participants were chosen due to working in, or having an interest in the nature of the posed subject-matter at hand. Some interviewees were unable to attend meetings to carry out the interview face-to-face, and have therefore completed digital interviews instead, as an alternative means of gathering in-depth data. In regard to interviews in Tokyo, Japan, an international research trip was planned and carried out accordingly.

The study adopted the Leeds College of Art Ethics Policy consistently, ensuring fair practice and confidentiality to all participants and their responses. Blumberg, et al (2005) describes ethics as the appropriateness of the researcher’s behaviour in relation to the personal rights of those who become the subject matter of an interview. Due to forward planning, the signing off of questions prior to interviews, and imposing a non-intrusive nature of research, no objections were made by participants in regard to the subject matter or questions at hand. In addition, each participant was asked to read an information sheet disclosing why they were selected, the nature of the interview and how the findings would be used, along with a consent form whereby each could choose whether they want to share their name, remain anonymous or disclose a pseudonym if data was selected to be cited.

A range of themes were chosen to be discussed with different participants, allowing for a range of specific, tailored and cross-cultural perspectives to be considered in context. This study allowed for an in depth understanding and analysis of the different ways in which social media and beauty publications in the fashion industry cross-culturally may affect the self-perception of women aged 18 to 24, whilst linking findings with the literature and theories noted in Chapter 1.

Interview themes included:

  • The Japanese beauty and fashion industries, particularly relating to use of Western models within advertising and the editorial design of Vogue magazines.
  • The Japanese beauty industry in relation to product range and trends.
  • The historical and socio-cultural influences of the Japanese beauty industry and the subsequent ‘ideal’ in comparison to Western beauty and ‘ideals’.
  • Social Media and Blogger (beauty and fashion) culture in both the UK and Japan.
  • Surrounding issues and sub-cultures of beauty in regard to social media use, particularly that of Instagram.
  • The use of polices within Fashion brands, such as ASOS, in order to understand how industry influences are approaching positive body-image and self-perception.
  • Modelling on an International and UK scale, and how this may affect ones self-perception and body image when working in the beauty and fashion industries, opposed to on a consumer or reader level.
  • The growing ‘fitness’ and body building culture within Instagram culture within the UK, gaining a different perspective on self-perception and body image in comparison to the beauty and fashion industries.

Interview participants included: CHECK ORDER AND APPENDIX NUMBERS

  • Tam Dexter (Appendix 01)
  • Toni Hollowood (Appendix 02)
  • Anon (Appendix 03)
  • ASOS (Appendix 04)
  • Nicole Takahashi (Appendix 05)
  • Luisa Omeilan (Appendix 06)
  • Kyoko Muramatsu at Vogue (Nippon) Japan (Appendix 07)
  • Brittany Rhodes (Appendix 08)
  • ? (Appendix 09)

2.3. Anonymous Participant Questionnaire

For further means of primary research, a questionnaire consisting of both qualitative and quantitative questions was designed in order to collate data regarding how ones self-perception and body image may be affected through the fashion and beauty industries links with social media and magazines. This research method embodied both pragmatic and interpretivist research philosophies.

The questionnaire was targeted at both males and females between the ages of 18 and 24, in order to gain comparative data in regard to different genders and the effects the media may have on them. By opening up the questionnaire to male participants also, this allowed for a different perspective to be considered in relation to the research topic at hand. By using both a qualitative and quantitative approach for this study, this enabled trends, thought processes, opinions and motivations to be uncovered and analysed in depth.

Collecting primary research during this study was dependant upon sharing the questionnaire with 18 to 24 year olds, using a range of promotional outlets. The questionnaire was shared via social media (Instagram and Facebook) by not only myself, but by a contact in Tokyo, Japan, in order to reach a cross-cultural and international audience of participants relevant to the line of enquiry. Social media platforms were used to access both males and females whom have active online presences, and therefore may be aware of, interested in, or actively involved in the beauty and fashion industries. In addition, the questionnaire was also shared with the BA(Hons) Fashion degree at Leeds College of Art to broaden the mix of respondents and perspectives. In total, 25 anonymous respondents participated in this study, of which, questions and responses can be found in the appendix, along with a summary of findings.

The questionnaire consisted of a broad mix of question types to generate a wide range of responses for analysis. This included; open, closed, multiple choice and scaled questions, which could be analysed and compared with findings from literature, theoretical perspectives and other research methods carried out over the course of the cross-cultural study.

2.4. Visual

In addition, to the pragmatic and interpretivist research philosophies discussed in 2.1., 2.2., and 2.3., a critical design approach to research was undertaken with practical work in Semester 1. This was in order to direct further specific research and practical work based on feedback from the study’s target audience.

A range of satirical and theoretical design work was produced and shared on social media, surrounding the modern, digital world of the beauty and fashion industries. Dunne and Raby (2007), state that “[critical design is] a medium to stimulate discussion and debate amongst designers, industry and the public about the social, cultural and ethical implications of existing and emerging technologies, [trends or products]”.

This approach allowed for initial practical work to be designed and shared via Instagram, using hashtags to reach the relevant target audience. Using this research philosophy allowed for a range of design work to be created “[challenging] narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens” (Dunne and Raby, 2007) of the noted industries.

Feedback given was beneficial for the future direction of aesthetics and covered ‘topics’, due to a highly positive reaction towards Kylie Cosmetics (Kylie Jenner) related posts (Figure 8). However, it was found that when questions were posed, more ‘likes’ were received than answers given, and found that this may not be the best approach to gaining quantifiable data, therefore alternate means of research would also be required, utilising pragmatic and interpretivist philosophies.

Other forms of visual research such as the analysis of both British and Japanese magazines, advertising campaigns and object based research (see chapter 2.5.) dictated further practical work opposed to utilising a critical design approach. A wide range of publications were purchased in both the UK and in Tokyo, Japan, gaining a comparative cross-cultural insight into aesthetics, trends and the use of both Western and Japanese models. In addition, this secondary research dictated the direction of practical work in Semester 2.

2.5. Object Based Research

A pragmatic approach was undertaken in regard to object based research, appreciating cultural differences between the UK and Japanese beauty industries, focusing in particular on the range of beauty (cosmetics and skincare) products that are available in two contrasting countries. Chatterjee (2007) states that in regard to object based research, “objects are employed in a variety of ways to enhance and disseminate subject specific knowledge, to facilitate the acquisition of practical, [whilst being used] for inspiration.”

Pragmatism “aims to contribute practical solutions that inform future practice” (Saunders, 2012), thereby undertaking this philosophical approach to research enabled for a contextual understanding as to why each culture, and the outlooks of 18 to 24 year olds are so different and contrasting in ideologies of women and ones self-perception. Furthermore, allowing for a pragmatic understanding, enabled theoretical approaches from literature to be analysed in line with this field of research.

In regard to the research carried out, objects were analysed in regard to packaging design, copywriting, product use and product promotion, in an aim to understand socio-cultural differences and perspectives from the view point of both consumers and brands.

Along with the broad range of visual research collated and discussed in chapter 2.4., object based research dictated the direction of practical work undertaken in semester 2 in regard to subject matter, visual direction and tone.

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The Guardian Article: “Are you as fit as you should be for your age? This checklist might surprise you”

Below shows a quote from an article on the Telegraph regarding fitness and gym culture in the UK. I found that this highly resonated with my research topic regarding how self-perception and body image in women is affected between the ages of 18 and 24. I found it most interesting that those under 25 saw more aesthetic benefits to working out than those above the age of 25, possibly due to an impact of social media, whereby the fitness industry has also began to take over mainstream accounts, giving an influence and ideology of an ‘ideal’ for young women to aspire to.

“According to Virgin Active’s latest research, 52% of British women between the ages of 25 and 34 would rather look slim and toned in their holiday photos than be fit enough to run a marathon. Those under 25 claimed that ‘looking good’ was the main reason that they worked out. It’s not until we hit our mid-thirties that the majority of us are more motivated to hit the gym for our health.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/body/fit-should-age-checklist-might-surprise/

Last Accessed: 6/2/2017

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Conversation/Beauty Shopping with Nicole T (Beauty Blogger)

Below shows notes made from the audio recording of my meeting with Nicole T, a beauty blogger in Japan. I decided to produce a mind-map due to the audio recording being around 2 hours long, and felt it was unnecessary to transcribe. Instead, main points have been taken and noted under key headings of topics discussed. Nicole also took me beauty shopping in Harajuku, which is where the many images of Japanese beauty products was derived. Nicole explained each product to me, and it’s relation to their current and previous beauty trends, self perception and ideals, whilst also elaborating on the models used, for example, and why.

A recording of this will be submitted on a USB along with all other recorded interviews, whilst being noted in my appendices of my dissertation, with print outs of the notes featured below for reference.

This is also working towards the following objectives:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

3.  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 behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.


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Anonymous Research Questionnaire: Questions

In order to collate more primary research, I have produced a questionnaire titled, “self-perception and body image within the beauty and fashion industries”. The aim of this questionnaire is to help work towards understanding, if and how magazines and social media, affect self-perception and body image issues across 18-24 year olds.

By producing a questionnaire, this allows for anonymous participants to share their thoughts regarding such topics, in order to affirm or negate my other research and methodologies undertaken to take, whilst gaining a different perspective which can be used in my dissertation.

The questionnaire was written in line with the LCA Ethics Policy, whilst being checked by the Ethics Committee, prior to being distributed.

The questionnaire was available to complete online anonymously for 1 month.

This is also working towards the following objectives:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

3.  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 behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.


  • Social Media: Instagram and Facebook, targeting 18-24 year old females and males, active within the beauty/fashion industry, as well as those who are interested in such industries. By promoting the questionnaire on social media this also allowed for an International, cross-cultural audience to be open to responding gaining a wider range of results to analyse and compare.
  • Circulated by my contacts in Tokyo, Japan, prior to my research trip, to allow for Japanese 18-24 year olds to participate in the questionnaire.
  • Universities in the UK with both British and Japanese students (discussed in Semester 1 and in my Professional Context report). However, unfortunately I have not heard back from those whom I had contacted.
  • Leeds College of Art Fashion Programmes (the following message was circulated, complying with the LCA Ethics Policy, whilst ensuring information was given to all regarding the subject and nature of the questionnaire, and what will be done with the anonymous results).

“Hi all,

I am a Fashion and Beauty-led Graphic Designer, and I am currently studying on the MA Creative Practice course.

I would like to invite you to participate in a research project building primary data for analysis surrounding my research question. I am interested in speaking with both males and females between the ages of 18 to 24, in order to gain understanding about how  magazines and social media, may or may not affect ones self-perception and perceived body image.

I am currently looking for participants to complete a short questionnaire, compiling data which can be utilised in my dissertation.

The research will be analysed as data and summarised in comparison to other studies and theories alike to aid this.

If you agree to take part, all responses will be kept confidential and anonymous. No name is required, however an email address can be left if you would like to do so.

Your participation is voluntary and you are in no way obliged to take part. You have been selected and contacted due to your active involvement in the Fashion Industry, with a view to that you may be interested in taking part.

If you are interested in taking part please click the below link to access the questionnaire:


Many thanks for your time, it is greatly appreciated.

Danielle Muntyan

MA Creative Practice”



Self-Perception and Body Image within the Beauty and Fashion Industries
Thankyou for taking the time to participate in this questionnaire.   PLEASE NOTE: Your name will not be used at all through design work or academic writing. Your responses may be read by a tutor or external examiner during assessment, but this will be confidential.  The aim of this questionnaire is to help work towards understanding, if and how magazines and social media, affect self-perception and body image issues across 18-24 year olds.

  1. What is your age?








I prefer not to answer


  1. Please select your gender:



I prefer not to answer


  1. What is your occupation?



  1. How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 in regards to your appearance?

1 – 10 (scale)


  1. What platforms of social media do you use?

(multiple choice – different platforms)


  1. During an average day how many times do you visit social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram?

0 – 20 (scale)


  1. During an average day how many hours do you spend on social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram?

(multiple choice – increments of hour from 0 to 4+ hours)


  1. What do you mainly use social media for?

(multiple choice)


  1. If you use Instagram, what types of account do you follow?

(multiple choice of categories, i.e. family/friends, celebrity, fitness bloggers)


  1. If you use Instagram, please give an example of 5 of your favourite Instagram accounts that you follow. If you do not use Instagram please state, ‘do not use’ and skip.



  1. If you post photos on Instagram, or other platforms of Social Media such as Facebook, do you edit them to ‘improve’ your appearance?



I prefer not to say


  1. If yes, please state with what application (i.e. Beauty Plus) or method (Filter), and why you do so.



  1. Do you read magazines?





  1. If yes, please select which magazines you read. If no, please select None and skip.

(multiple choice – list of magazines)


  1. Do you have a gym membership?




  1. How often do you go to the gym/exercise?

(multiple choice)


  1. Do you have a role model you aspire to ‘look like’ or ‘be like’, if so, whom and why?

If no, please state ‘no’ and skip.



  1. Do you watch makeup or beauty tutorials on YouTube or Instagram?




  1. Do you feel that social media has affected your self-perception and body image?



Not Sure


  1. If yes, why do you feel that social media has affected your self-perception and body image?

If no, please state ‘no’ and skip.



  1. Do you feel that magazines have affected your self-perception and body image?



Not Sure


  1. If yes, why do you feel that magazines have affected your self-perception and body image?

If no, please state ‘no’ and skip.



  1. How do you feel about the following statement, ‘social media and magazines encourage negative and comparative behaviours at times, which can impact on self-perception and body image issues’?



  1. Do you feel that beauty and fashion bloggers are a positive or negative influence on self-perception and body image? And, why?



  1. Have you ever changed your image, or ‘look’ purposefully as a result of influence or content from social media or a magazine? i.e. celebrity diet, cosmetic surgery, makeup regime. If so, what and why?

If no, please state ‘no’ and skip.



  1. Do you feel that ‘celebrity culture’, influences our self-perceptions and body image? If so, how?

If no, please state ‘no’.


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Refined Objectives for Semester 2

Following my research trip to Japan, I feel that my objectives have changed slightly, specifically relating to Objective 5:

  1. 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.

In regard to this, I feel that from speaking with various models, bloggers and editors at Vogue Japan, that this objective will be extremely hard to produce after finding out that each country and subsequent culture, has a defined ‘ideal’ or body type, which would mean that standardisation on a International scale would be almost impossible. I m still interested in various policies surrounding this objective, but do not feel that this is the emphasis of my practice going forward, and feel my focus has shifted now towards making those interested in/active in the beauty/fashion industries of such different ideals, cultures and expectations opposed to trying to standardise them.

In addition, I also feel in regard to Objective 4 (noted below), that design work will now take a publishing based approach opposed to social media-led, due to research findings. Without both beauty/fashion cultures in the UK and in Japan being similar or comparative in regard to blogger culture, and social media use, and without an already existing large platform to work on that a digital campaign to highlight body image and self-perception issues, as suggested and experimented with in Semester 1 would not be viable. Instead, as noted above, I would like to produce a publication showcasing trends from both Western and Eastern cultures, particularly the UK and Japan, in order to highlight the differences between industries and how these themselves can impact upon self-perception and body image,

  1. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image.

Therefore, the objectives which I will be working towards throughout Semester 2, can be found below:

Objectives and goals:

  1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).


  1. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.


  1.  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 behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.


  1. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.



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Vogue Japan Interview: Mind-Map

Below shows notes made from the audio recording of my meeting with Vogue Japan, in Tokyo. I decided to produce a mind-map due to the audio recording being around 2 hours long, and felt it was unnecessary to transcribe. Instead, main points have been taken and noted under paraphrased questions which I asked during the interview.

A recording of this will be submitted on a USB along with all other recorded interviews, whilst being noted in my appendices of my dissertation, with print outs of the notes featured below for reference.

This is also working towards the following objectives:

1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

2.To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

3.  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 behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.


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Japanese Beauty VS Western Beauty Mini-Mag/Zine/Trend Sourcebook: WIP

This is continuing to work towards Objective 4: To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.

For semester 2, in order to plan my practical project, I began by working from semester 3 backwards in order to realise my revised objectives, post research trip to Tokyo. For semester 3, for my final major practical project, I would like to produce a cross-cultural independent magazine, exploring cultural confluence in addition to contrasting cultures, ideals and trends across the fashion and beauty industries. I aim to pitch this as the first in a series of international cross-cultural editions, comparing different perspectives within this area.

Therefore for semester 2, I plan on producing a mini-independent magazine/zine/trend sourcebook prototype exploring cross-cultural and contrasting beauty trends, emphasising and raising awareness on the contrasts between the beauty industries in Japan, compared with the UK. This has been influenced by my primary research carried out in both the UK and Tokyo. Through the copywriting, I would also like to address issue relating to self-perception, however do not want to make this the main emphasis, as this will feed more into my semester 3 practical work when a magazine is designed using collated research from interviews in addition to theoretical research and perspectives collated throughout this semester.

I am considering the use of this publication, as a way of promoting the magazine which would be produced in semester 3, via information inside and perhaps a pull-out poster promoting the upcoming magazine. In addition, I would like to use this prototype to develop a clear understanding of whom the exact target audience will be for my final project. Time permitting, I will also consider promoting/sharing the publication digitally.

A digital version will allow for an international audience to be able to view and read the magazine opposed to being limited to ‘hand-out’, or ‘pick-up’ distribution methods for example – colleges/universities, independent book/magzine stores (i.e. The Village and Colours May Vary in Leeds), lectures, talks, events of relevance). By testing the magazine/zine as a prototype, this allows for distrubition methods and precise target audience to be considered, whilst enabling myself to see which methods generate the best response/reception.

As a prototype, I plan on exploring different binding, stocks, design-led and printing techniques during pre-production.

It will be informative via choice of editorial content, copywriting and design-led visuals. It will be aimed primarily at females between the ages of 18-24 whom have an interest of beauty and fashion (as noted above), in both the UK and in Japan to raise awareness of different beauty cultures and industries, however I would like to use this prototype to confirm this or negate this dependant on feedback and reception.

In addition, the prototype publication would also act as a source book for information regarding different Japanese trends and cultures.

In addition, by producing a prototype this will allow for any costs to be considered at this stage, which may alter/change print/binding, for example, moving forwards into semester 3.


Above: Initial ideas for the full magazine, which will now be produced in semester 3. I have decided to produce this as my final major practical project, for various reasons:

  • Collaboration with both UK and Japanese bloggers
  • Sourcing Photography Online, in Books and Magazines, whilst sourcing Photographers and Models
  • Writing the Content and translating half to Japanese
  • Designing a magazine can take a long time, especially when working on a cross-cultural scale, as some content will need to be outsourced through collaboration
  • Print and production time/costs
  • Distribution methods can be tested to see whether physical routes are best, or whether digital outlets are better received – social media, magazine website/blog, for example.
  • Not all interviews/research has been completed and analysed
  • I want to show an emphasis on contrasting cultures and trends in semester 2 and in turn how this affects perceptions and ideals

By working on a smaller scale initially, this will allow me to prototype a mini-mag/zine, which will allow for any problems which may arise to be alleviated prior to working on the final outcome, enabling a smooth and straight forward process in Semester 3.





Above shows planning and idea development for the different spreads of the Japanese pages and Western pages, specifically looking at which trends should be translated into artwork. Not all of these will be used however by creating a list based on visual research I have collated it enabled me to make a start on the practical elements. In addition, lists of brands to look at/collect imagery for per spread were written as shown above. Again this was created through going through visual research and magazines collected in both the UK and in Japan.




Above shows development of the “kawaii” or “cute” theme derived in Japan, focusing on a youthful culture who still want to capture their childhood through their choice of playful product. In addition, these Korean inspired products are seen all around Japanese drug stores and high-end stores as seen in visual research collected from my Japan trip. Similar to Harajuku subcultures such as Dacora, this is a rebellion and reaction to conformation and standardisation in Japan, and by buying into these form of products, one is seen to have an individual identity opposed to a controlled identity, which I feel is important in regard to self-perception and relaying this to a Western audience, whereby one can be who they want to be generally without any questions being asked or external socio-cultural pressures.

Aesthetic influences have been taken from the local and national magazines noted on my blog, which were collected in Japan, whilst taking into account other aesthetic influences from collage artists, also previously discussed on my blog. It was important to get across a cute, youthful and playful element in the spread whilst taking influences from the product packaging and brands used themselves, i.e. diamonds inspired by Jill Sander and Kittens inspired by Paul and Joe, and CanMake – seen in photos of beauty products/packaging/pos collated in Japan and noted on a previous post also.








Above shows the development of the skin-lightening trend collage and spread, showcasing the beauty trend which is most predominant in Japanese culture, and can be seen in examples of beauty products and in magazines collated in Japan. Even though Japanese skin-lightening trends stem from socio-cultural and historical traits there is an underlying modern influence from Western ideals, global consumerism and brand standardisation which comes into play making this trend very diverse and multi-contextual. The spreads showcase this through showing a range of ‘international’ and ‘Japanese’ brands which have adapted their product ranges to such trends, whilst showing a range of stereotypical images of youthful looking, light skinned Japanese women denoting their ‘ideal’. This spread explores how such trends can influences ones self-perception of self-hood and self-worth, whilst taking aesthetic influences from Japanese local and national magazines. This is a theme which has been discussed in depth in my dissertation due to having such a contrasting ‘ideal’ to that of Western women wanting to be tanned in order to represent affluence – in Japanese culture, the lighter the skin tone, the richer you are, the darker the skin tone, the poorer you are; relating back to historical working classes, aristocracy and the era of the Geisha.

This also relates back to various theoretical perspectives and studies relating to Japanese culture, as carried out by Shiseido and discussed on my blog for example, as well as in my dissertation. Light make-up and youthful, light skin are seen as favourable and this is what is represented in the ideal above. The lighter the skin, the younger it is also said to look (Tagal, et al. 2016).



Above shows the development of the Kylie Cosmetics “get the look” artwork, which has been discussed in depth on another blog post analysing this development and design in detail.


Above shows the ‘anti-aging/baby endorsed’ product page, inspired by my findings whilst researching in Japan. I wanted to relay how and why babies are often used to relay youthful skin, stemming from the obsession with everything child-like in Japan, and that child pornography was only banned in 2014. I feel this explains why such imagery is used so openly in Japanese culture and beauty products to relay ‘end-results’ being a norm opposed to a contrast of British/Western cultures. In addition, Western women are also often used to show how this relates back to the end-user, using babies as a signifier of ‘soft skin’.

The background texture has been inspired from the product packaging itself, emphasising a pink, youthful, feminine and playful aesthetic and tone. Polka dots and stars are often seen on packaging and promotional materials for the products of White Label by Cosme (the products shown above); examples of this can be seen below. In addition, blue has been used to complement the product packaging whilst not only stereotyping ‘girl babies’ – this is also reflected below. Japanese numbers have been used in order to mimic that of a Japanese step-by-step guide, as most Japanese women expect to know how to use products, in what order and what they will achieve by doing so as previously discussed in my research in interviews and in regard to aesthetics and design. The above shows that with the 3 products, one can achieve such end results and have ‘baby-soft’ skin. By using a western female model, this allows also for the artwork to hint at self-perception issues of the Japanese women and target audience, whereby using such products will give lighter skin just like Western women, whilst also contrasting and complementing the Western baby used on the face mask packaging with blonde hair and blue eyes – a baby version of the adult on the right hand side.


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