Article: “Be Realistic! How Technology Affects Your Perception of Beauty”, By Dr. Robert Tornambe

This is working towards objective 1.

“How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don’t even look like their photos?”

Whilst researching the surrounding contexts of the recent technological developments within the Beauty industry and how this can in turn effect our self-perception, I came across the article shown below on Oprah.com, written by Dr. Robert Tornambe, whom is a “New York City plastic surgeon, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons (F.A.C.S.) and diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery (board certified). Dr. Tornambe has lectured in the United States and Europe and is considered an expert in cosmetic facial and breast surgery. He was listed in New York Magazine’s “The Best Doctors in New York.” Dr. Tornambe has appeared on Dateline, NBC’s Today and The Charlie Rose Show, and he was the only New York City–based plastic surgeon to appear on the ABC series Extreme Makeover. His latest book is The Beauty Quotient Formula (Hay House)” and was struck by the question he posed mid-article, which I have noted at the top of this post for reference also.

This question posed, brought to life the idea that technology does change how we see ourselves, and also other people, especially with individuals whom go to extreme lengths to fulfil their ‘ideal’ vision of themselves based on those they follow, admire and look up to whether this be through cosmetic surgery or photo-editing platforms/tools. In turn, this made me think about my own research question and how the idea of ‘role modes’ relates to self-perception and body image issues in this particular context of beauty, surrounding the new phenomenon of brands using celebrities, bloggers and vloggers as marketing and communications tools. For example, the Rimmel “Get the Look App” (noted in a previous post – ‘Recent Technological Advances and Developments within the Beauty Industry’) which allows the user to take a photo of themselves and apply pre-set makeup looks inspired by their models and campaigns. Kate Moss in this instance is used as the main anchor for the campaign, enticing app downloads through the promise of quite literally getting her look – however, the photo of Kate Moss itself is edited – a prime example of the posed question.

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Rimmel Get The Look App
Image Source

We currently live in a society whereby access to celebrity information and photographs for example is instant via digital platforms. We know every beauty product they use thanks to hashtags and brand endorsements, allowing followers to engage with small, but key parts of their lifestyles, replicating it hoping to achieve the same results. Furthermore, along with the Instagram streams for example, recent advanced technologies and releases of ‘beautifying’ apps also now allow this change to happen instantaneously if desired. As Dr. Tornambe notes that “the touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project” hinting at the idea that whether we ‘edit’ ourselves through permanent changes or not, many people feel the need to look perfect and flawless to be perceived a certain way and will use one or more mediums to do so.

I found the article below particularly interesting in the sense that these “stars” were almost unreachable in a sense that at one point in time, they would only be featured in high-end fashion magazines such as Vogue, and on billboard campaigns. However at present day, as discussed in my ‘Initial Thoughts on Social Media and Publications’ post, these platforms are becoming much more interlinked and allow for the end-user to contribute their own photographs and instantly engage with content and the surrounding online communities on a personal level. Furthermore, by using various digital and print based outlets to showcase brand campaigns, collections, sponsorships and products for example, more people are being targeted, and more people are contributing therefore as a whole resulting in a constant stream of faces, selfies, outfits and lifestyles being showcased inadvertently on our smartphones influencing changes in body image and self-perception overtime.

“The digital age has brought with it wonderful advantages in all aspects of people’s lives, but it has also created certain unexpected troubles—one of which is a detrimental change in society’s perception of beauty.”

Full Article:
I have highlighted key points which I believe will help in the understanding and unpicking of my research question, whilst there also being several points of which back up points I have already mentioned in this post, or in previous posts prior to finding and reading this article.
“Years ago, actresses were glamorous, larger-than-life movie icons and role models that women looked up to and wanted to be like. But, now that you can follow celebrities on Twitter, read about their makeups and breakups on their blogs and in the tabloids, movie stars are becoming more like…you. Find out how technology has influenced your perception of how you look at yourself and modern-day Hollywood.

The digital age has brought with it wonderful advantages in all aspects of people’s lives, but it has also created certain unexpected troubles—one of which is a detrimental change in society’s perception of beauty.

Prior to computers, magazines and cinema were the sole outlets influencing your perception of beauty. Movie icons—larger than life—were admired on the silver screen, and their more notable adventures were followed in magazines. Carefully orchestrated photo shoots with perfect lighting, makeup and hair styling enhanced the stars’ already beautiful faces. These stars were idolized for their beauty and style. And the general public placed the lucky, well-known celebrities on pedestals, crowning them as royalty. They were role models—adored, but not copied, because it was understood that they lived a life far different from the average person. Stars were admired…from afar.

Fast-forward to the present, ever-changing computer age where you are bombarded by images of all forms and gossip about those celebrities who used to be so glamorized—so distant and different than you. Their lives are chronicled on a daily basis thanks to Twitter, blogs, online magazines and other easily attainable media, creating an almost intimate relationship between the public and the stars. And this change in society’s relationship has changed its view of beauty. Since these celebrities are now on your level, doesn’t that also mean you can be more like them?

The bar for women has been set unrealistically high by the role models people have today. The deck has been stacked against the modern woman. It was bad enough women used to see 17-year-old fashion models wearing $25,000 haute couture gowns in women’s magazines. Now, thanks to Photoshop and other photo-editing software, photos may be manipulated to make their subjects look thinner or heavier, taller or shorter, bustier or flatter chested. Wrinkles can be magically erased and prized features, such as pronounced cheekbones, can be enhanced. The touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project.

So the inevitable question arises: How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don’t even look like their photos?

The answer should be evident, but with people’s new relationship to the stars and new beauty technologies like Botox, facial fillers and cosmetic surgery, this goal seems to be practically doable. But self-esteem can plummet when women compare themselves to these unrealistic iconic images. They are chasing an illusion and place themselves in a no-win situation.

Take Heidi Montag as an example. Recently, this very pretty 23-year-old, up-and-coming actress underwent 10 different surgical procedures so she could look “more glamorous” and hopefully stand out in the highly competitive Hollywood arena. She stands out now, but for all the wrong reasons! So, how does an intelligent, attractive woman in today’s society adjust to all these unrealistic messages around her?

First, women must stop this star worship and gain back a bit of separation between the woman on the screen and the woman in the mirror. Realize that what you see in the media is not reality. These faces should not be the faces you aspire to have. Choose realistic role models for various stages of life. And remember that as wonderful as plastic surgery is, if you are 60 years old, you are never going to look like Heidi Klum. Look for women who are beautiful and vivacious, yet who are aging gracefully, like Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep—or your boss or neighbor. Use these as your role models, and your life will become much simpler and your goals more attainable.

Also, women need to discard their one-dimensional definition of beauty. Beauty does not lie in physical features alone. It’s about the whole package: physical beauty, mental strength, warm personality and personal presentation. So stop looking in the mirror and seeing the glass as half empty. Instead of looking for flaws, embrace your positive characteristics and figure out ways to enhance them. Stop wishing for someone else’s nose or hair and fall in love with your own. A face can be structurally imperfect but still beautiful. Intangibles make a woman beautiful, and you must recognize those wonderful quirks that you possess and be proud of them. Develop a beauty arsenal consisting of clothing that fits well and enhances your attributes. Create a solid hair-and-makeup routine, and exercise to stay healthy and build your confidence. Confidence is the real secret here! A confident woman is a beautiful woman. Learn how to feel great on the inside as well as the outside.”

Source:
Dr Robert Tornabe (2010) Your Perception of Beauty in the Digital Age http://www.oprah.com/spirit/your-perception-of-beauty-in-the-digital-age#ixzz4MoUl5FzX, Last Accessed: 11th Oct 2017

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Research Methods

I have collated a list of various forms of research I would like to carry out across the academic year in order to improve the quality of my research methodologies and findings, as weĺl as contributing to the understanding and visual realisations of my research question. In addition using a variety of primary and secondary research methods to collect data, I feel as though this will strenghten my conclusions and allow for indepth analysis and reflection across a range of resources.

In addition, due to the vast scale of topics which can be look at and analysed regarding my research question and the time available on the course to carry out such work, I feel as though I have had to target females specifically being ultimately the main end user and audience within the Beauty and Fashion industries. However, I would like to use some of these research methods to find out how men perceive women via magazines and social media, again changing perceptions within these industries so see how this affects their ideas of ‘ideal’ women. Do we have to look a certain way now to appeal to the opposite sex? What do men think about the rise of beauty trends and fads? What do they think of current ‘icons’ such as Kim Kardashian for example whom influence the looks and perceptions of women so much? Do males and females feel differently about these issues?

I would also like to find out what people think generally about the rise of beauty and fashion trends, the rise of bloggers, Vloggers and social media outlets, as well as the traditional magazine and how these visual outlets affect our body image and self-perception issues.

Noted forms of research may include:

  • Qualitative Data
  • Quantitative Data
  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires and/or Surveys
  • Focus Groups – male and/or female?
  • Visual Research
  • Critical Design-led Research 
  • Visual Questionnaires for ‘ranking’ of looks and reflection – could possibly be targeted at a male audience.
  • Debates and discussions following lectures and presentations, for example. 
  • Field research – International Research trip booked to Japan.
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Recent Technological Advances and Developments within the Beauty Industry

This is working towards objective 1.

Whilst initially planning and outlining the contents and structure for my Professional Context presentation, I decided that I would talk about recent developments in technologies within the Beauty Industries, and how this relates to my practice, self-development and research question. This particular blog post will cover the topic of ‘makeup’ apps.

I find that in today’s conformist and consumerist society, we are becoming much more influenced by beauty brands due to new innovative and instantly accessible social channels lending themselves to various forms of visual marketing and advertising. Adverts and campaigns are not only seen in magazines and store windows anymore models, bloggers/bloggers, influencers and associative brands are taking over and using social media, application design and UX/UI to their advantage, creating an engaging and empowering platform for end-users to work and engage with. Whilst the noted technologies are still quite new, and are constantly being trailed, tested and improved, organisations are still rapidly competing and are continually researching, learning and developing new digital processes and techniques, in order to create the best and most up-to date apps, with the most advanced features. This allows for brands and their associative applications to gain the best number of sales and active users, therefore gaining brand influence, engagement, loyalty and power within a world of consumer culture.

Researching further into this, I found several ‘beautifying’ apps which can transform, change or manipulate your appearance in different ways, each of which target different audiences and needs, and therefore use different technologies and use different ‘features’. However, I am also interested in how these applications and new technologies can be damaging to our self-perception, and in return, how we are perceived. I found this particularly relevant in regards to the Beauty Plus app and how this is used heavily by a Japanese and Chinese audience, in an aim to Westernising their looks through lightening their skin, widening their eyes and elongating their legs for example. These are all topics of discussion and promotion which were also found in the July 2016 edition of Vogue Japan ‘Health and Beauty Special’ – please see scanned in images below for reference of this. I was also surprised to see International brands such as Clarins conforming to such trends and releasing its own skin-lightening product – again please see scanned in images below for reference.

I feel these applications really show the advances in technology within this industry and how it is being used by brands around the world to their advantage whether to promote a product, increase consumer loyalty or make-up a digital element of a larger campaign, but again allows for a negative in retrospect in regards to the way we can edit our appearance digitally so easily and instantaneously, creating flawless looks which may not be so easily achievable in real-life and again promoting celebrity culture and the standardisation of what beauty should be on a cross-cultural scale. The beauty boom in Asia has also been noted through the popularity of the Chinese edition of the L’Oreal Makeup Genuis app, as evidenced in the article noted below. China have proved through their various user-interaction based marketing mediums that engaging with the consumer is a proven winner for promoting new products whilst promoting and exposing new found uses of technologies within a relevant context.

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In a nut shell, the idea of these new technologies allows us to edit our pre-existing photographs or edit our appearance in real-time (depending on the chosen app) in order to look “flawless”. But regardless of technologies, the pressure to look like the ‘final look’ and take a “flawless” selfie, can really add to the pressure of looking a certain way and maintaining a certain ‘standard’ of image. What happens if we cannot maintain these ‘looks’? What if we cannot recreate that “flawless” look ourselves? How do these technologies add to the debates amongst body image and self-perception within a world which is becoming more narcissistic, controlling and standardised? How does Western culture influence body image and self-perception in other countries due to the accessibility of celebrity culture, bloggers/vloggers, social media and the idea of the standardisation of beauty?

Below shows four different examples of these new technologies in context of Celebrity Culture, Consumer Trends, Brand Engagement and User Interaction. Along with imagery are small articles or quotes further describing the technologies and formalities of each.

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“There’s something scary about trying on makeup at the drugstore: what if you apply a new blush to your face, just to try it out, and then you walk out looking several shades too dark? That classifies as an actual beauty disaster, and is something none of us want to experience—and now, thanks to the makeup geniuses at L’Oreal, we don’t have to!

The beauty brand just launched an app that allows you to try on makeup without actually trying on makeup, right from the comfort of your home—or wherever you and your smart phone happen to be. The thing that separates the L’Oreal app from all the other makeover apps already on the market is that this is the first of its kind that actually allows you to apply lipstick, eye liner, eye shadow, and blush to yourself, as opposed to a mannequin-esque face that’s meant to resemble your own.

You scan your face using the front-facing camera on your iPhone—yes, the same way you take a #selfie—and the app’s technology reads everything from your face shape to your expressions. You then can begin applying L’Oreal makeup digitally to your own face in real time, watching the makeup you put on move as your face does.

The app took over 10 years to develop and uses the same technology that transformed Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which won Oscars for both makeup and visual effects. It essentially turns your phone into a mirror, allowing you to see what you really look like with certain shades of (for instance) bronzer, eyeliner, and lipstick.

The app will also launch in select drugstores on tablets, where you can play around with makeup and then buy it right after.”
Who What Wear (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis – China Edition
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“China has been a massive market for the app, bringing 4.7 million of its total 14 million downloads. That’s partly because of the size of the country’s internet population: 668 million people, with 594 million of those going online with mobile devices, according to official figures from the China Internet Network Information Center. And it’s also because it allows curious young women to try out heavier makeup, which is still uncommon in China.

“Girls in China can be shy to apply makeup if they are at the counter or if they are going out with friends — they don’t want to put on very dark lipstick, very dark eye shadow,” said Asmita Dubey, chief marketing officer for L’Oréal China.

“There’s no culture of makeup passed down from mom to daughter that has been there for years, so for a girl like that to get a virtual experience and try some new looks, that’s something she wants to do,” said Ms. Dubey, honored as one of Ad Age’s 2015 Women to Watch China for promoting innovations in mobile marketing for China’s No. 1 skin-care player and second-biggest advertiser.”

Further Digital Initiatives from L’Oreal:

Shake the smartphone: L’Oréal’s Maybelline brand sponsors a TV makeover show called “Cinderella.” It appears on traditional Chinese state television, CCTV, but it got a digital and mobile boost through a partnership with Tencent, the Chinese internet giant. During the show, people saw a message on the screen telling them to shake their smartphones. When they followed through, a page would pop up on their phones offering a tutorial video of the makeover looks people saw on the screen.

WeChat ads: Tencent’s ubiquitous mobile app WeChat had been mostly ad-free until this year, when sponsored messages started popping up on people’s newsfeeds. During the Cannes Film Festival in May, people who clicked on a picture of L’Oréal brand ambassador Fan Bing Bing opened a video with the Chinese megastar actress inviting them to virtually join her at Cannes. Many started following L’Oréal on WeChat, got updates on her looks at the festival and bought products via smartphone.
“Mobile social commerce apps is exactly where beauty is going,” Ms. Dubey said.

User-generated content: In China, online product reviews are a prevalent form of user-generated content – people devote a lot of energy to writing about products and taking pictures and videos of them. Tapping into that, L’Oréal’s Lancome has Rose Beauty, a social platform aggregating product reviews from users.

It offers tutorials, product info and samples so people can post their own videos of trying products out. “It becomes your product review platform, your community platform, your beauty platform,” Ms. Dubey said. And it links back to e-commerce, of course.
AdAge (Last accessed 2/12/16)

virtual-makeover-v2Rimmel Get The Look App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“The first beauty app that lets you snap any look and try it on live! SNAP – Take a picture of a makeup look in a magazine or from a real person, TRY – Try her look virtually live in the app, SHARE – Share your look with friends, BUY – Buy any product from the app”
Rimmel (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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BeautyPlus – Makeup Camera App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“BeautyPlus has worked with well-known makeup artists, photographers and real people just like you to develop the perfect photo retouch app – a tool that is easy to use and gives flawless results.”
– BeautyPlus (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“We have over 900 million users around the world, Meitu is a leading leading beauty and lifestyle app developer as well as a global innovator in mobile video and photography, including proprietary facial recognition and virtual “try-on” technologies for makeup, hair and fashion.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

BeautyPlus is created by, Meitu whom are currently “seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries … At Meitu, we are obsessed with beauty, makeup and fashion. We are always looking for new ways to leverage our technology to help consumers discover new looks and shape their own styles. We are currently seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. We can provide a unique, immersive and culturally relevant way for brands to connect with female consumers all around the world.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“Meitu’s photo and video apps have over 270 million monthly users1.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Asking Samantha Ravndahl about Self Perception and the Beauty Industry

This is working towards objective 3 and 1.

A few weeks ago now whilst planning elements of project ideas and research methodologies, I contacted two Beauty Vloggers/Influencers to see if they had availability in the future to take part in an interview, either by Skype or email based questionnaire. One, whom I won’t name I did not hear back from at all, whilst Samantha Ravndahl’s agent got back to me stating she was busy and wouldn’t be able to take part.

Samantha Ravndahl is a Canadian Makeup Artist turned Vlogger/Influencer, based in Vancouver, whom has 2.4m followers and has always been an ambassador for truth, honesty and diversity. Having worked with a vast range of International brands for several years now, I thought she would be ideal to speak to in regards to my research question being an active member of the influencing community, to see how she thinks the Beauty Industry affects people’s self-perception and body image, but also how by being in the public eye, maintaining a certain image has affected her self-perception and body image issues. Furthermore, this contrast would be a great source of research, showing first hand how those in the spotlight could potentially be affected themselves.

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Samantha Ravndahl Instagram

When I was told Samantha was busy, I was actually quite disheartened. I am not one to give up on a challenge and as a Vlogger who is actually extremely engaged with her following and social media communities, I thought I would be persistent and try again at a later date.

Below shows the email between myself and Samantha’s agent initially.

My email:
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The reply:

Please Note: I have noted included a screenshot of the reply due to respecting the confidentiality and privacy of the recipient.

“Hi Danielle.

On behalf of Samantha, thank you for reaching out.

This a brand partnership inquiry email; however, Samantha appreciates your support. Stay tuned to her channels!

Best.”

Several weeks later on Thursday 6th Oct 2016 , I logged onto the app Periscope, and at around 7pm UK time Samantha logged on and happened to be actively talking, taking and answering questions and sharing stories with active participants. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try and speak to her, and quickly asked if I would be able to ask a couple of questions for my MA research regarding the Beauty industry? Unexpectedly she said, “yeah, sure, lets do it now”.

Therefore, I have logged notes below of the conversation which was carried out in the form of bullet points and quotes. Unfortunately unless the host sets the video to remain on the app for a certain period of time post live viewing, it isn’t possible to re-watch the recording, so I have been unable to link it below or transcribe.

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Question:

How do you feel the Beauty Industry affects your sense of self-perception?

Samantha:

  • Positive at first due to becoming a makeup artist, and gaining a sense of support from a community.
  • Now, at present day admits to getting too caught up in her appearance and looks at herself more critically than if she was simply a makeup artist, opposed to an influencer too.
  • Can be damaging to a blogger or blogger due to the amount of pressure to look good, and to make life look good and glamorous/amazing also.
  • It has become about “who looks the best at doing makeup, who’s the most glamorous at 8am, who looks the best at the gym?” and has taken away the creativity of makeup artistry.
  • “Cheapens experiences” in the sense of constantly needing to look good and be “photo ready”, i.e. holidays/trips – gets more caught up in taking photos/vlogging for social media than enjoying herself and taking in the experience.
  • “As an influencer, you are paid to be beautiful and look a certain way”. Samantha proceeded to talk about an unnamed brand whom once bought her clothes for an event due to having a more ‘casual style’ than the other influencers attending.

Question:

What is the “photo ready” process?

Samantha:

  • “Knowing that you are glam at anytime because people want you to look your best” speaking in regards to the perceptions people now have of her and the expectations which go along with her job.

I found this short conversation really interesting and was very thankful for her time and honesty – hence why I knew Samantha would be an ideal participant to interview. The conversation raised many thoughts and further questions. Firstly, It highlighted the fact that even though you can be seen to have a perfect, glamorous lifestyle and get paid to do so, overtime it can be damaging to your body image and self-perception due to constant pressure. The constant demand of “looking a certain way”, competing with other influencers “to be the best” and maintaining a certain standard of image must be extremely hard especially when also actively encouraging others to follow, engage and purchase associative products, therefore sparking a consumerist and narcissistic cycle within the industry.

It is also apparent from this short conversation that Samantha’s perceptions of herself have also dramatically changed overtime, as brands have engaged with her and social media ‘followers’ have grown to know and love her for looking a certain way, gaining their own perceptions which now must be maintained and lived up to.

I also found it very interesting that Samantha talked about maintaining this lifestyle and how it can often “cheapen experiences”. By constantly feeling the need to wear uncomfortable clothing, stilettos and maintain a certain flawless look, it is possible to say that the need to look good can distract from the experience you are undertaking itself, whilst trying to find the perfect lighting for a selfie for example, or quite literally taking part in a photoshoot. What culture and history, for example are we missing out on as a society are we missing out on if we are forever taking photos of ourselves, rather than taking photos of our surroundings and those who we are with? Is our self-indulgence taking away pleasure in our experiences? Our we sourcing locations to take photographs for our social media accounts, or are we sourcing locations to take in what is there?

Following this conversation, I still feel there is much more to be explored, explained and questioned within the blogger, blogger and influencer area of fashion and cosmetic communications and marketing strategies being quite a new method of promotion. I would also like to further my research, by liasing with other experts and active members of the beauty and fashion industries to gain other first hand insights such as this which I can reflect back on, and use for initial starting points for further research, exploratory practical work and hopefully help me in turn answer and rationalise my research question.

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Using Archives as a Method of Research

Today Sharon delivered a lecture discussing the importance of archives as a source inspiration, information and narrative in her current practice, which she discussed through her newest project, ‘The Radical Decade” exhibition which is currently open to visitors at Leeds College of Art.

With this exhibition, it was explained how research stemmed organically from a material object and a box of ‘memories’ belonging to Gerald McCann, a Fashion Designer, which when curated by Caroline Riches translated into a narrative, tell a previously untold yet important story. I also found the story captivating in regards to the importance of collaboration and good will, and what can be achieved with passion and a dedicated team.

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As a class, we were asked to visit the exhibition and then discuss our thoughts afterwards. I found this very interesting as points were made either from the language, context, theories, connotations or visuals used, and various opinions and thoughts related to my practice.

Topics Discussed:

  • Post 1950s – Cultural and Social changes of Femininity and the role of Women.
  • Body Image change in relation to above and the move away from feminine physiques – this made me think about my previous use of Vogue archives in my practice and academic writing (see below).
  • The early commercialisation of Fashion – women may of lost a sense of identity through mass-produced clothing opposed to home-made patterns.

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I found the lecture and debate particularly interesting, and was surprised by how much I could take away as initial starting points for research on body image and self perception within this era itself. I was later able to reflect on this further thinking about how I have used archives in the past as a source of quantitative and visual information, and how I may again use them across this year to help investigate and answer my research question.

I haven’t used any archives as an initial starting point of research for a long time, as my professional practice is very commercial and heavily based upon current trends, however throughout my A Level studies and BA(Hons) studies, I used archives throughout projects as a source of information, inspiration and visual evidence to support theoretical contexts. The types of archives I delved into throughout my BA(Hons) studies were the large range of Vogue Magazine archives, which are stored in the LCA library, and my own archive of over 300 International Vogue magazines which I have been collecting for around 14 years. Using these archives as a visual form of research, allowed me to understand the different female ‘ideals’ which have influenced our self-perception and body image overtime, whilst understanding and contextualising bodily changes overtime due to societal, cultural, commercial and political changes, to name a few. This enabled me to create studio-based briefs based on this collated research, whilst furthering my knowledge for critical and academic writing.

Below shows two of projects from my BA(Hons) Graphic Design course, whereby the archive based research informed the project, content, design and execution, and therefore my practice. I hope to revisit the Vogue archives which I have n0ted again over the course of the year for visual and contextual research.

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“80s Fashion”
Designed in mind for fashion students and fashionista’s, it contains everything needed to know about the influential decade; history, social issues, cultural changes, trends and influential icons who shaped the fashion industry and ‘look’ at the time.
96 pages / Perfect Bound / Matte Cover / Gloss Inners

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– – –

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“How has the commercialisation of women, affected the ‘ideal’ body shape?”
A physical companion to my University Dissertation. This book looks into the changes and evolution of the female body image over time, specifically how the ‘ideal’ has changed due to social, economic and cultural issues, including fashion, media and advertising.
These changes have been captured through illustrations, paintings, drawings and photography for centuries, forming a bank of commerical images of women.
This book looks at in particular 1900 – 2014, highlighting the ‘ideal’ of each year, elaborating with an analysis of the image, context, tone, background and physical change, producing a seamless timeline of how the female body has changed, showing the corruption of the media and image manipualtion.Furthermore, through the analysis, the analysis’ aim to prove a correlation between the media and the rise in eating disorders.
248 Pages, 116 Images.

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In addition, whilst undertaking my A Level studies in Fine Art, I became very interested in researching my family background, and began researching by looking through my Grandmother’s photo box. I have a very culturally diverse background, with all four of my grandparents immigrating to the UK post-war from Spain, Italy, Hungary and Poland, however my Spanish Grandmother, Carmen, was the only one to keep all of her photographs as evidence of her past life. This past life in Spain intrigued me, and led me on to specifically research the era, the town, the fashions, the culture, but most importantly her as a woman. More recently however, along with my father I have digitised over 3000 new photographs which were found upon her death, re-archiving photographs in a new way, whilst exploring, questioning and recording new narratives.

In regards to this specific archive, something which Sharon noted yesterday in her lecture really made me think about how personal some archives can be, and how we choose to display, store or curate those archives can often paint a narrative to the viewer in a different way.

This itself made me think about my current practice and how personal it is. I think in the past my practice has been very personal in regards to final, realised, visual outcomes, allowing me to contextualise and directly portray an emotive narrative. However, I feel that currently my practice has become even more personal and is heavily interlinked with my proposal and research question also. I believe my current practice is heavily influenced by my personal experiences with Anorexia Nervosa, working with Fashion Designers, Brands, Cosmetics and Designers whilst analysing and recognising the rise of self-perception, societal and consumerist issues which are currently flooding the market I work within. I suppose in a way, my mind is an archive, and by revisiting those thoughts, emotions and feelings, I can re-engage with my past in a reflective and proactive manner, channelling this into my current practice and research methodologies.

I have noted a list of additional archives below which I plan on researching further to see if any could be of use for my current practice and research question:

  • Discovery Collections
  • National Media Museum
  • Teeside Visual
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • V&A Archive
  • TATE Gallery Archive
  • Online Archives
  • Vogue Magazine Archives
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Semester Planning and Time Management

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In regards to planning my upcoming projects both practical, oral and written, it was important to me to plan ahead so I can see when I have submissions, key dates, inductions, planned events, freelance work and personal events in order to effectively use my time moving forward.

I initially began doing this on my desktop calendar (see above), using a colour coding system to plan my time, and then realised that this is probably not the best way of planning my time as I cannot clearly see in advance when submissions are in relation to when key events are to plan research, development and practical/written work accordingly, whilst leaving enough time to account for any changes and feedback to be taken into account. Therefore, I felt using a GANTT chart to plan the next 10 weeks, would allow me to see each module together as well as resolving the problems recognised and noted above (see below).
learning-objectivesI found the GANTT chart system quite daunting initially, however through grouping presentations, submissions and learning objectives on the left hand side, I have been able to now work through any issues and populate the next 10 weeks of the semester accurately. I found this rather systematic approach difficult to work with when planning one module in isolation, as I found when I collated all 3, some weeks had an unachievable amount of work and objectives to attain, and found a more beneficial approach to planning doing so by project.

This can be seen on the draft shown below:

gantt-chart-draft

From this GANTT chart, I then went on to planning in-depth weeks, which I found much harder to work out accurately as are more likely to change as projects develop, new ideas arise, or problems arise, therefore I have not digitised these as I feel it would be wasting too much time revising them. Therefore, I have decided to keep these separate for on-going evaluation, reflection and revision each week to see if the work load is achievable to a high-standard, and if not, I will be looking to use the GANTT chart as a guide to see when there is time to reallocate. I am hoping that after using these methods of planning for several weeks any major problems can be addressed effectively to avoid any further issues. By planning to LO’s as well as projects, this chart will enable me to see what objectives I have and haven’t fulfilled as time moves on.

I have included an example of how my weekly plans look and work below:

week-2

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Lecture: An Introduction to Practice Based Research

This is working towards objective 1, 2, 3, 5.

Today Karen delivered a lecture titled, “An Introduction to Research Methods” which was the first of five research-based lectures. There were several points that Karen made which really resonated with me which I have noted below for reference and future reflection.

  • The idea that, research can be something you look back on and don’t agree with, as well as do agree with. I had never really acknowledged this way of thinking about research. Definitions and research pre-empt the idea that research itself is collated data therefore formulating a fact, figure or statistic for example, so why would you disagree with it? This really stuck with me after todays lecture, and made me think about how within my own practice and whilst exploring my research question, I can question research and disagree if I feel I need to do so, as long as I can justify and evidence why.
  • It can be important to acknowledge the five senses whilst researching, as well as reading books and online journals for example – material can be ‘data’. How can tactile forms influence my research? How does material culture influence my methods of research within my practice? How can I begin my research using physical objects?
  • Research doesn’t just happen over night. Acknowledge the “when’s/why’s/how’s/which’s” in context to establish exploratory, experimental, discursive, questioning and effective iterative research.
  • Research can inform the editing and selection process. How will research affect my practice in regards to both processes, techniques, contextual, critical and theoretical understanding?
  • Research is about finding your way – “Savoir Faire” Dallow 2003, p50
  • Does my practice influence my research, or does my research influence my practice?
  • Research can also include talking to other people, gaining different inputs and opinions collating knowledge based discourse. This is something quite significant which I want to continually carry out throughout the year in order to gain different insights, opinions and thoughts on my research question from those who work within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, as well as those who are active consumers.
  • How do my research findings influence my practice and further my knowledge? This is something which I want to continually evaluate and reflect on throughout exploring my research question in order to gain more succinct and accurate final outcomes which can inform final resolutions and my practice going forward.
  • Research Methodologies: What do I do and why? How does this relate to theory? How will I explain what I am doing/planning on doing? Again this is something which I would like to continually reflect on and evaluate in order to further my knowledge and inform my practice through evidence researched.
  • Quantitative research is often inclusive of well-established facts, science, social sciences, statistical and often is aimed at testing existing theories.
  • Qualitative research is often exclusive of existing ideas, and tests emerging theories whilst being discursive of quantitative data.
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Initial Thoughts: Publications and Social Media in relation to my Research Question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MA Creative Practice: Objectives & Goals

I have decided to set myself several objectives and goals to strive to complete whilst undertaking the MA Creative Practice course. I feel by setting myself targets now, I will be able to look back upon these at various stages allowing myself to reflect on my studies, my practice and self-development whilst enabling myself to meet the set learning objectives.

I have chosen to undertake a study of the Fashion and Beauty industries, in an aim to understand how and why Magazines and Social Media within the Fashion and Beauty Industries affects our sense of body image and self-perception.

Therefore my objectives and goals can be found below:

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

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

B)I am to speak with both Vogue UK and Vogue Japan, and aim to carry out questionnaire’s or interviews with at least 10 females from both the UK and Japan, in order to gain quantifiable data.

  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 Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image, for example:

A) Critical Design led Instagram posts

B) Social media wellbeing campaign

C) Promotional posters and packs

D) Zines and publications

  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.

These are the objectives that I will continue to work towards throughout this project.

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