Further Research for Semester 2

The below in particular is working towards objectives, 1, 2 and 3.

I have been unable to cover all of the research which I had intended to cover throughout this semester. I do not feel that this has been down to poor time management however, I feel it has been more to do with the amount of contextual research and theoretical perspectives that I have needed to be aware of, along with a wealth of practical exploratory work. I do not feel at this stage I have enough time to finish these elements of research competently, and to the highest standard, and therefore feel it is best to wait to work on these until post-semester 1 hand in. I will begin to work on these post-hand in and going into semester 2, alongside itinerary planning for my field-research trip to Tokyo. Again with this, I have had to contact organisations to enable to secure meetings to work around in relation to itinerary. The below will help also with my research trip and in particular when speaking with Beauty Editors at Vogue Japan.

I have also noted people I would still like to contact prior to my research trip, and again will begin to work on this immediately after hand-in to ensure enough time is allowed for in regards to international communication and contingency plans regarding this.

  • Vogue December UK and Vogue Japan October article analysis in the aim of understanding how the articles, models, products and copywriting may influence perceptions of women in a certain way
  • Vogue Japan analysis on articles related to social media/fashion and beauty bloggers/associated culture
  • Content comparison – brands, designers, products, trends (the same monthly issue will be used to do this)
  • Amount of Japanese models featured on average per Vogue Japan issue, opposed to Western
  • Vogue Japan and UK Media Pack analysis
  • Male Perception issues in relation to my research topic (feedback from professional context presentation 2)
  • Japanese beauty and culture in comparison to western cultures and ideals
  • Japanese averages and ideas in comparison to UK (elaboration on previous analysis work featured on blog in relation to this)
  • Japanese bloggers whom may be available for an interview in Tokyo, or via a digital questionnaire
  • B-EAT and APPG in relation to policies and guidelines supporting positive body image in the noted industries, as well as how policies are created and passed, working towards objectives 3 and 5.
  • I would also like to go through my original bibliography included with my proposal, in order to visit texts not covered due to new topics and research arising.

In relation to the above, points noted with ‘Vogue’ will also be carried out on my field-research trip on comp shops, looking at what products are for sale in the UK and in Japan, i.e. skin lightening products – are these also available in the UK from the same brands as in Japan (often Western) or simply only from Japanese brands due to changes in culture? These are the sort of investigations I plan on carrying out to work towards answering my research topic and objectives.

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Professional Practice/Career Reflection

This module has allowed for various objectives to be worked towards and learning objectives to be met, which I have feel have strengthened my professional practice and future career prospects.

Research has allowed for various topics to be covered, analysed, critiqued and reflected upon, such as:

– Creative and Interdisciplinary Practitioners
– Organisations Supporting the Creative Industries (Local, National and International)
– Recent Advances in Technologies
– Policies supporting Practice
– Theoretical Perspectives

This research has been thoroughly discussed throughout my blog, report and presentations in relation to my practice, whilst also shaping exploratory work, working towards objective 4. I have found it most relevant to make use of industry contacts to secure research-led meetings, whilst making new contacts has become vital to working towards objectives 1, 2, 3 and 5. Such industry contacts have secured International meetings in Tokyo, Japan, National meetings in London and Local meetings in Leeds with research participants. I have found it invaluable to also contact HE institutions in regard to making contact with both British and Japanese students between the ages of 18-24 whom may be interested in answering a questionnaire post new-year regarding my research topic. I was unable to make contact with HE institutions in Japan, and found this was a good contingency plan with such a large international base of students in the UK.

Not only have I researched into organisations supporting both my practice and research question and secured both National and International meetings, I have found it invaluable to talk to them about their policies further supporting practice, such as the ASOS Model Welfare Policy in particular, whilst working towards objectives 2 and 5. Going forwards I would like to contact the likes of B-EAT and local charities in order to see how the response in eating disorders has been affected by such issues raised in my research topic and practice, whilst also discussing how policies and guidelines are created and enforced. This also in relation to objectives 2 and 5.

I am in discussion with London-based practitioners regarding a collaboration, and have also confirmed a collaboration with Scarlett Carson for semester 2, a Leeds-based commercial photographer. This has been derived from the MA course, meeting like-minded creative practitioners whilst adding a different dimension and perspective to my practice. That can also be said for Bobbi Gastall (Rae) a Leeds-based practitioner whom I have collaborated with in semester 1 through the Practice and Professional Development module, producing a zine entitled, “how to be a blogger”. As my practice is Graphic Design, this can be quite solitary especially when freelancing, so working collaboratively brought new ideas discussion and debate to the table which I really enjoyed being a part of and want to continue to do so in my practice going forward. In addition this was working towards objective 4.D.

I have also researched into future exhibition spaces for semester 2. This has not been part of my practice since leaving my BA(Hons) Graphic Design degree as I mainly work digitally and therefore promote my work and my practice digitally also. Going forward if I work on the Life-Size Barbie Doll project (working towards objective 4),  is the one project I have not had time to explore this semester, this would perhaps require such spaces to exhibit to the public, and therefore felt it was important to be aware of such spaces on a local and national platform.

Throughout this semester I have researched recent technological advances in both the fashion and beauty industries, and have found Instagram to be a key advancement for such industries allowing for digital marketing campaigns, collaborations with bloggers and international and instant reach for example. Keeping this in mind and working towards objectives 1 and 4, Instagram was used not only as a platform to showcase my critical-design Instagram Post project, but as a platform to share ideas, work and gain feedback in return. Findings have shaped the direction of both exploratory practical work and research working towards objective 4.

Instagram also has allowed for me to find creative practitioners relevant to my practice, with Anna Potter for example as discussed in my report, also promotes and shares her work in similar ways, using a critical-design approach also with underlying tones of satire and similar feminine aesthetics. Research has led me to find other more obscure practitioners such as comedian Luisa Omeilan and graphic designer Toni Hollowood as noted below, both of whom also work with similar underlying tones and messages. The three practitioners noted however are locally and nationally based, along with Scarlett and Bobbi discussed above and would like to find other practitioners who work on an international scale whom resonate with my practice and research topic going forwards to broaden this context and research.

Other key recent advances in technologies have been discussed and analysed in relation to my research to date, practice and research topic through my on-going blog, presentations and report surrounding this module.

In relation to theoretical perspectives underpinning my practice, I found that I had to do a large amount of research into different ideologies in order to gain a sense of which are most important to take forwards as key theories. The main two were Self-Perception and Social Identity which I feel also fall in line with the words of Anna Potter, Luisa Omelilan and Toni Hollowood particularly forming strong contextual links also supporting my current practice. I feel that understanding the work of these practitioners in regards to context, message, satirical yet serious tone, delivery and aesthetics has been crucial, with Potters’ work being quite resonant of my professional and practical design style, using feminine colour palettes, typography and a range of both print/digital-led designs to provoke thought using a critical-design led approach. In addition, such theories as Self-Perception have become the underlying theoretical context of my practical work to date, working towards objective 4. For example, the “what’s my name again?” project has been derived from the ideal of self-perception using theories throughout to support illustrations and copywriting, whilst the wellbeing campaign for example, uses third-person perspectives to gain judgement on themselves, therefore showcasing the the audience how this is not real and can in turn affect one’s self-perception. Going forwards, I would like to continue to research both noted theories more in depth, whilst looking at the other theories discussed heavily in my presentation (male/self-surveying gaze and self/objectification) in further detail to support further research and exploratory work.

In regards to future career plans, the MA so far has allowed for much self-reflection on this to be considered, supported with research, whilst it has also allowed for me to meet new contacts, and therefore gain invaluable HE teaching experience on a BA(Hons) Fashion programme, which was a personal goal set at the start of the course. One of the reasons I wanted to do the MA was to better career opportunities within my industry whilst opening new doors to new opportunities/alternate career paths and feel that this has been taken advantage of. The second reason I wanted to do the MA, was to find a way through my practice to help others, as I feel the industry is very corporate and actually damages many people in regards to self-perceptions and body image confidence, particularly within the areas of design I work in – fashion and beauty – and want to showcase the other, ethical side, being that, we can be whom we are and do not have to be dictated to by a business strategy, social media or a magazine for instance. In addition to this, I have often thought about setting up an agency supporting specifically fashion graduates enter the world of work, and feel that teaching at HE level is working towards this long-term goal in a way enabling to help students with the right skill sets and knowledge to have an impact on the fashion industry, whilst also learning myself via curriculum plans and assessment criteria what knowledge is needed to work towards this. In addition, I have found that teaching has allowed for better time management and organisation, whilst also allowing for myself being able to understand the course structure of the MA much more competency, enabling me to understand and fulfil the learning objectives required with more rigour. Further to this, I have also looked into PCGETHE’s at both Manchester Metropolitan University and Bradford College, however have recently been advised it is preferable to undertake a teaching qualifying course with a HEA also, which would allow me to apply for job roles at institutions such as LCA for example in the future. I feel that by talking to members of staff regarding such qualifications, doing research and speaking with my current employers, I have been able to scope out and assess options going forwards which could either be done alongside teaching if still in post, or prior to taking on a full-time teaching role in HE. This is something I will consider much more in depth in semester 2, however feel it was important to clear up my options for future development, career plans and strategies.

The MA has allowed for me to meet colleague Hattie Spowage, whom I have also been discussing potential post-MA business opportunities combining our practices of pattern cutting and garment design with graphic design, in order to create a viable commercial brand. This has been looked into in some detail with Hattie looking at fabric mills and suppliers, with myself looking at studio spaces we can work potentially obtain to start, along with opportunities for business funding and support. These have been discussed in depth on previous specifically related blog posts, however has not been the forefront of focus this semester due to as noted above, the priority has been to contact industry links and secure local, national and international meetings and interviews in order to work towards objectives, 1-5. Further to this, Hattie has also introduced me to a new platform of online networking called, Fashion in Leeds. This group also run networking events at The Tetley in Leeds, which Hattie and I plan to attend in semester 2 to gain further business insight and meet contacts whom may be required if the business was to go ahead.

I feel by having options post-MA, I am giving myself more industry led experience, whilst adding to my skillets further. Ideally, I would like to continue with part-time lecturing, whilst working alongside Hattie on a fashion brand, which would allow for skills to be developed for later in life/career I was to set up a fashion-led agency as noted above. This module has allowed time without any immediate pressure for me to consider my career choices, taking into account new opportunities and new contacts.

I have also recently made contact with a friend and now female body builder, Brittany Rhodes, as discussed in a previous post whom was recently on a BBC Documentary regarding women, self-perception and positive body image, have discussed the possibility of teaming up in the new year to run local body image workshops to promote healthy body image and educate regarding the power of the media, in particular social media and Instagram. Not only does this fall in line with my research topic but allows for a different perspective, and allows for someone with an already established based and following to support a practice such as mine in a positive way, allowing for me to fulfil my objectives and potentially adding another regarding such community led workshops.

The professional context module has also allowed for positives and issues within my professional practice of freelancing to be reflected on in context of my current practice. This is something which has been discussed heavily in my first presentation and report, understanding how working with previous employers and clients has perhaps pushed the direction and focus of my MA understanding how and why for example social media and models affect self-perceptions. In my presentation I noted working for a previous employer whom asked me to design cosmetics for children and have since worked with freelance clients whom work with in my opinion, emaciated and unhealthy models, and those who particularly do not represent a positive body image relatable to the mass public and general target audience. It is such issues which have influenced my research topic, research to date, future research and objectives, in the hope of raising awareness and exposing the industry in some senses. To me, this raises many ethical issues surrounding my practice, as I feel within the fashion industry and beauty industry, as much as policies can be set in place, or I myself can write and propose one working towards objective 5 to alleviate these issues, I feel that such industries will not want to standardise due to the ‘identity’ of brands being damaged. Working within these industries as much as I love them, in practice, has become a battle at times to consider if a job is viable, but then freelance is a business which needs to be ascertained. Therefore, working with Hattie on a more personal business would alleviate many of the issues of working with a larger scale industry and will allow for positive body image to be relayed through the brand for example, whilst allowing for our own policies to be created in line with this which may hopefully inspire and guide women to feel okay with their bodies, identities, style and self-perception. I really want to encompass my practice and what I love but in a positive way, helping people, opposed to having a negative impact on the target audience.

Freelance work however has allowed for various contacts as discussed in my report to be contacted in order to arrange meetings and interviews for semester 2, working towards objectives 1, 2, 3, 5.

Furthermore, I have found that seminars, lectures and post-presentation discussion and debate have allowed for issues within the field of graphic design to be openly talked about, particularly between other designers and teachers alike. Issues have been raised around muffled creativity due to use of stock imagery in industry opposed to free creative licenses and how this can affect motivations and exceptions of students working towards industry. Issues surrounding ethics and HR in the workplace have also been discussed, along with management structures within ‘agencies’ which often feature little creative encouragement. Also discussed were high expectations set for students in regard to the industry post-university, allowing for false hopes and deflated realities when entering junior designer roles with little real-life context being instilled into students. I found these forms of discussions interesting having felt similar myself, whilst also helping Ross with feedback and research for this MA topic regarding the Graphic Design industry and its readiness for Graduates. This forums allowed for reflection on my own career to date, the current positives of freelancing, working for oneself and having creative control, whilst putting into perspective how I can alleviate such issues in my own practice, as discussed above also.

In support of my freelance practice, self-promotion is key and has been discussed in blog posts in depth, however not touched on as much in my report or presentation due to not being of key relevance throughout my practice so far on the MA. Instagram has been a continuous method of both promotion and feedback as heavily discussed, however throughout the module other forms of self-promotion in regards to freelance has not been a priority, due to limited time to work on additional projects whilst not being the focus of my research topic. I have now at the end of the semester, began working on my revised personal branding to ensure I have updated CVs and business cards for any meetings/interviews taking place in semester 2, and plan to update my professional website and online portfolio with photographed exploratory work to date to share the message being worked on, whilst gaining feedback from a different audience. I would of perhaps liked to of done this earlier on in the semester in hindsight in order to have these in place for when contacting individuals/organisations, as this may in some instances prompt a response opposed to not.

Below shows the learning objectives for this particular module, and feel through my on-going blog (research journal), presentations and report to date that I have evident objectives 7A2, 7A3, 7B2, 7C2, 7C3 and 7D2 competently in relation to my practice, professional context and research question.

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MA Creative Practice: Objectives & Aims – Reflection/Progress

At the start of the semester I set myself several objectives to work towards in resolving my working research topic. I have discussed how I have been and will continue to work towards these throughout my report, however due to the word limit do not feel as though I managed to cover everything I have achieved to date or that I am currently working towards/planning for semester 2.

I have reflected on each objective which can be seen 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)/With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

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.

In relation to the above objective I feel as though I have researched heavily into self-perceptions and social media and perhaps need to spend more time researching magazines in as much depth, however as the fashion and beauty industries are becoming more digital, social media has been a more current point of research. I have began contacting course leaders of various, relevant fashion programmes at the following HE institutions in the UK after being unsuccessful in making contact with HE institutions in Tokyo – Leeds University, Leeds Beckett, CSM and Manchester Met in regards to objective 1.A. The aim of this is to obtain both British and Japanese contacts from fashion courses whom may be interested in completing a digital questionnaire in regards to my research topic in the hope of gaining an insight into cross-cultural influences. I plan on collating a series of data from at least 10 British and Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 in order to gather and analyse measurable and comparable research.

In addition, I have began speaking with both Vogue in the UK and in Japan in regards to obtaining quantifiable and comparable data in regards to obecjtive 1.B.

Going forwards, I plan on contacting bloggers both in the UK, USA and in Tokyo in regards to obtaining research working towards objective 1.A. and 1.B. I hope to also secure further meetings/interviews with bloggers and if possible hope to contact further magazines and brands, time permitting to gain further professional perspectives.

Should the need arise for a translator arise, I have made links through a contact at Tokyo Disney with a local translator who will be called upon.

I have also secured an interview with Brittany Rhodes, a competitive female body builder of 24 years, in order to gain a different perspective on my research topic.

In addition to objective 1.A. I am undertaking a research trip to both London (7th/8th Jan 2017) and Tokyo (16th-23rd Jan 2017) in order to gain comparable and measurable visual data and field-research. Methodologies will include looking at AD Campaigns of Western brands for example Chanel and Topshop, in order to see how these are promoted in the East for example, in order to see if the same models are used and what language is used. This will allow me to see if influences such as this can affect the perceptions of those in Japan being exposed to foreign visuals of cultural icons and western celebrities for example. A list of stores to be covered for research can be seen on my London itinerary, I will be working on my Tokyo itinerary in semester 2 once I have finished contacting people and finalised a weekly plan. In addition, I will being using my secondary research to inform my primary field-research, i.e. looking at recent technologies such as the Shiseido Makeup Mirror. I plan on visiting the Flagship store in order to speak with staff about such advances and their customers feedback, whilst also seeing if such technologies are available for the same brands in the UK. A full list of measurable methodologies can be found here; 

  • Visual Research
  • Comp Shopping
  • Verbal Research: Interviews/Focus Groups
  • Publication (Magazine) Research
  • Technological Advances
  1. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

I have researched into the policies of charities such as B-EAT, as discussed in depth in both my report, and in my first professional context presentation, however, industry links have secured a meeting with ASOS’ Corporate Responsibility and Design teams in order to gain a better understanding on their Model Welfare Policy, working towards both objective 2 and 5. In support of this, and to add context to my research, I have also secured interviews with two models working in industry to gain their insight on my research topic, whilst discussing whether or not such policies would be of benefit and feasible to the industry to further help with research working towards objective 2 and 3.

  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.

As noted above I have confirmed meetings with two models working in industry to gain a different perspective of research working towards objective 2 and 3. I have also began using industry links and relevant freelance clients in regard to interview working towards objective 3. As also noted above, I have began contacting HE institutions in the UK to reach both British and Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 to obtain quantifiable research working towards objective 3. This is in the aim of comparing data with those working in Industry, i.e. models and Vogue. I have also planned to speak with Toni Hollowell a practitioner whom works within the same subject area as my research question, and hope to gain insight into similar perspectives and practical works.

  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

All of the above 4.A – D. have been achieved throughout this semester, and going forwards would like to develop and refine my ideas, whilst finding more ways of gaining quantifiable and measurable data in regards to working towards answering my research topic. I have found 1.A. in particular most useful to my practice throughout this semester, allowing for Dunne and Raby’s critical-design theory approach to be used throughout allowing for work to be promoted, ideas to be shared and feedback to be gathered. The feedback received however was more a general positive reception for the design and concept, opposed to being as critical as needed for future development. This is something I would like to address holding crit groups, and testing the work with focus groups (females 18-24) for example. 

Objective 4.D. was achieved twice, once in combination with objective 4.C, and the other an additional project being a collaboration with Leeds-based practitioner Bobbi Rae. I found working with Bobbi to be refreshing, adding new ideas and perspectives to a pre-determined concept.

Going forwards, I have been in discussion with Brittany Rhodes, in regards to running community workshops and motivational talks regarding positive body image, and perhaps using this as an educational strategy to speak with HE institutions and local councils, encouraging a more proactive, charity/organisational approach to raising awareness opposed to being graphic design led. One of my main reasons for doing the MA is to find a way to help people through design and creative communications, and feel there is a way to do this within the community whilst being of relevance to my practice whilst working towards objective 4.

I also plan on collaborating with Leeds-based commercial photographer Scarlett Carson in the aim of producing an editorial campaign working towards objective 4. This was originally planned for semester 1, however due to time constraints has been put on hold.

  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.

Objective 5 is yet to be started, due to needing to finish collating research and completing objectives 1 -4 prior to doing so.

I feel throughout this semester I have made good progress on working towards these objectives, whilst also highlighting future directions for development and interviews allowing for current and primary research to be carried out in support of my findings so far. I have found that my objectives haven’t changed, however have become more interlinked due to practice and research being so heavily connected throughout this semester. As noted above, I would like to now go on to speaking with more people, in order to answering my research topic with more rigour. I would also like to work on more ways to gain feedback and quantifiable data from my target audience whilst in Tokyo. I would also like to begin making contact with the APPG for example, in order to find out whom I will need to talk to in regards to my policy proposal (objective 5) which I am working towards in order to gain feedback on this at a later date. I have found that throughout my research to date, I have been focused on my objectives and research question, however, have found that I have had to do a lot of background work to now be in a position to begin to research Japanese culture in more detail, now being aware of different theories and professional perspectives on the topic at hand. I feel that this will benefit me going forwards whilst undertaking primary research, whilst also working towards the above objectives.

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

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BBC Newsbeat: “Breast enlargement advert is banned because it ‘could cause harm to teenagers'”

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This TV advert from Transform (TFHC Ltd) featured UK based fashion blogger Sarah Ashcroft (21 years old) talking about how she didn’t like her body, or feel confident prior to having a breast augmentation and stated that she, “never really looked at any part of my body past my neck because it wasn’t something I liked.” It has since been banned by the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) for promoting negative changes and thoughts in viewers in regards to their body image. The advert was first aired nationally in May 2016, and is now banned.

The video post-surgery shows Sarah saying, “I feel like a new person, from having nothing to then looking at yourself with boobs, it was the weirdest thing. Everyone was like ‘Wow, they look so natural, I’m so impressed.’ And to come away from it feeling 10 times more confident than you were, I think, is just an amazing feeling.”

The article noted that “one viewer complained that the advert exploited young women’s insecurities about their bodies by implying that breast-enhancement surgery would make them more confident and popular” resonating with my research topic and the research carried out to date regarding social media and the rise of bloggers in particular having an influence on our self-perceptions. I feel that this is a poor act of the beauty industry with the clinic, TFHC Ltd claiming that Sarah Ashcroft is a role model being a “representative of many independently-minded, responsible, thoughtful, sophisticated and successful young females who chose to undergo cosmetic surgery”.

At 21, I do not feel as though she should be relaying such messages to a broad audience whereby negative impacts may be made on others. In addition, this shows the power of the media, and how someone at 21 feels the need to have a breast augmentation to feel accepted, falling in line with Tajfel and Turner’s (1986) Social Identity theory. Feeling out-group has perhaps encouraged behavioural and ‘negative changes’ for Sarah, allowing for her to feel in-group, confident and accepted.

The ASA noted the focus of the advert might encourage younger viewers to think about their own body insecurities and make viewers believe that her popularity, fame and success as a fashion blogger was due to cosmetic surgery – “Although Ms Ashcroft’s was a personal story, we considered that the ad suggested more generally that success and popularity would be enhanced by achieving an idealised body image, which could be done by ‘correcting’ any perceived imperfections. In light of those factors, we concluded that the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause harm to those under 18. We told TFHC to take care to ensure their service was advertised in a socially responsible way that was not likely to cause harm to those under 18 years of age.”

I feel that this really shows how powerful the blogger culture and social media world can be, and how much influence they can have on their following and the public alike. I have touched on plastic surgery and non-permanent surgery throughout my research in relation to social media, icons, bloggers and self-perception theory, and feel that this again sings in tune. By the public viewing such forms of prescribed and dictating content on a daily or regular basis, through TV adverts, social media and magazines alike, one can begin to internalise such ideals and begin to form distorted perceptions of themselves (Bem, 1972), and feel it is positive that advertising agencies such as the ASA, similar to ClearWater, are engaging with the beauty and fashion industry also.

Source:
Newsbeat. (2016). “Breast enlargement advert is banned because it ‘could cause harm to teenagers'”. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/36722887/breast-enlargement-advert-is-banned-because-it-could-cause-harm-to-teenagers. Last Accessed: 4th December 2016.
Turner, J. C., & Tajfel, H. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. Psychology of intergroup relations, 7-24.
Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology6, 1-62.
Dove. (2013).

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Blogger Culture: “Fashion and Celebrity Culture” by Pamela Church Gibson (2013)/Vuelio UK Bloggers Survey 2016

This is working towards objective 1 and 4.

In support of my research and prototyping work to date surrounding the ideas of Instagram and blogger culture, I wanted to support this further with literature on such rise in phenomenon, as I feel as though I have looked at this subject matter more theoretically and practically, to date opposed to in regards of literature. Blogging culture has encompassed topics discussed throughout my Instagram Post project using a critical-design theory approach to stimulating opinions and provoking thoughts based on assumptions of the industry.

I feel that the texts and information shown below evidence the rise in blogging culture within the fashion and beauty industries, hence why choosing such subject matter to be discussed.

The following extracts of literature taken from ‘Fashion and Celebrity Culture’ by Gibson, F (2012), summarises how bloggers have now almost gained celebrity status in some cases, and in return the media has “adapted to [this] and reflect the world of celebrity dominance” (p.126). In addition, it is noted that, “in an era of endlessly circulating images of young women, largely presented directly to and looked at by other young women, the traditional theoretical arguments of the ‘the gaze’ (Berger 1972; Mulvey 1975; Doane 1982) are no longer relevant; they depend upon the presented dominance of the male gaze behind a camera” suggesting that the one in charge of critique and judgement has changed to become more broad and general in a sense of men and women – “Mulvey’s original argument that men and women are looked at – while battered by barrage of critique … still stands, albeit with a few bullet holes through it, in the world of fashion [and beauty]” (Edwards, 2010, p.156). This has been seen throughout my research and practical work to date looking at the impacts of social media of those who post the photos causing ‘cheapened experiences’ and competitive behaviour between social groups in order to find their social identity and feel confident with their self-perception. This has also been heavily reflected through my practical work aimed at unravelling Bem’s (1972) self-perception theory in relation to my practice and research question. The idea of judging our self-perception based on third-party views is resonant within blogger culture, relating back to the comments surrounding the gaze noted by Gibson, F (2012) showcasing how these theories are intertwined in regards to Instagram for example, having a International affect and impact upon viewers/followers.

The below also summarises what I have noted throughout my report and research to date in the sense that, the internet and social media allows for instant access for one to be apart of a community, opposed to ‘viewing it’ only as in magazines (Gibson, F, 2012, P.135).

 

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I found the above excerpt (p.136) interesting in the sense that Gibson references a 9-year-older blogger whose fame rose through the internet as is now seen as somewhat of a celebrity herself being invited to exclusive events. Again I feel that this is down to accessibility, magazines allow for readers to view articles and images, whilst social media allows those as young as 5 as seen in a previous post regarding a child Instagram beauty blogger Makayla Starr, to be apart of such communities and cultures. This I feel as discussed in depth previously in my research, has big impacts on one’s self-awareness and self-perceptions as highlighted through Freud and Lacan’s Mirror Stage theory (1949), whilst also in my opinion, posing as a negative impact on behaviour through social media.

 

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With the first fashion blog launching online in 2003 (Gibson, F, 2012, p.135) over the past 14 years, the blogging world surrounding the beauty and fashion industries has taken off, with Vuelio conducting a National Blogger Survey earlier this year (2016) working with over 534 UK bloggers alone, to explore this culture, purpose and reception in detail (Vuelio, 2016, p.17). It was stated that 77% of all bloggers are female, and within this  27% of those are bloggers within the beauty and fashion industries (Vuelio, 2016, p.3-5). I feel that this statistic alone encompasses the power of such female blogger culture, with lifestyle as a theme being next ranked with 27%, followed by parenting/family at 11%, showing dominance of such stereotypical markets (Vuelio, 2016, p.5-6.).

Even though this survey only covers UK bloggers, I feel that this shows on a national basis how such a large amount of users may work on personal or professional beauty/fashion blogs, which may in turn have negative behavioural changes. In addition, even though these are ‘UK bloggers’ unlike magazines, blogs are available internationally online and therefore show in context how this could be damaging collated with further blogs from around the world.

I feel that such quantitive information can only help with working towards my research topic and objectives, whilst going forwards, I would like to have a look at similar surveys from Japan in order to gain comparable data working towards objective 1.A and 1.B., whilst also adding further context to my research prior to visiting Tokyo for field-research and interviews with Vogue magazine to understand this further on a cross-cultural scale. This will also help when speaking with Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 in the UK, whilst the information noted above will be of help when speaking to UK females between the ages of 18 – 24 retrospectively, working towards objective 3. In support of this, I would also like to contact both UK and Japan based bloggers to collate further research using the same comparative and quantifiable methodologies as discussed above.

 

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Source:
Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology6, 1-62.
Gibson, F (2012). Fashion and Celebrity Culture. London: Berg by Bloomsbury. P.126, 135, 136, 248.
Lacan, A.. (1949). The Mirror Stage as the Formative Function of the I as revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience. Available: http://faculty.wiu.edu/D-Banash/eng299/LacanMirrorPhase.pdf. Last Accessed: 3rd November 2016.
Vuelio. (2016). UK Bloggers Survey. P. 3, 4, 5, 10, 17.

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BBC Documentary: Get Muscly In A Month/Interview: Why More Young Women are Body Building with Brittany Rhodes/Future Plans

This is working towards objective 1, 3, 4 and 5.

I came across this short documentary on the BBC, and discovered that a friend, Brittany Rhodes was one of the main participants, being interviewed by Adele Roberts regarding her career as a female body builder. I was really surprised to see Britt on the TV and, since this has aired has nearly reached 10k followers on her Instagram.

I found this documentary interesting as it gave a different perspective in relation to the media an body image/self-perception issues regarding my research topic. Different perspectives of this is also something which I was made aware of during feedback for my 2nd professional context presentation, and it was suggested to look at male perceptions. This is something I am going to look into in semester 2, however took this also, as a different perspective being still related to my research topic, but entering the world of fitness and gym culture, which is popular with both males and females across the UK. It appears that women such as Britt are not going to gym now to lose weight and maintain a super-skinny physique, rather now going to build strength and definition through weight training.

Britt noted in the documentary that, “I was a size zero. I wanted to actually have that curvy figure and that’s why I got into training” and feels as though this new culture has given women empowerment: “I think for girls, lifting weights feel good. Now they’ve got empowerment – they don’t need a man for money”. I found this interesting as the social media I have focused on has mainly given women empowerment through consumerism, opposed to fitness, and as I do not go to the gym myself, was unaware of how popular this culture has become. Britt also noted that she feels the trend started in the US via social media platform, Instagram, whereby she first saw women within the movement online, and saw this as motivation to better herself, feel confident and happy with her body.

The main difference between Britt’s perspective and that of the bloggers for example analysed throughout my research to date such as Sarah Gonzalez, is that Britt has done this for herself to feel happy, confident and change her life for the better, using Instagram now as a motivation platform for her followers, launching a new career as a PT whilst competing, whilst others, as noted, have used this platform and their bodies to make money becoming marketing commodities and objects through self-objectification, social identity issues and self-perception issues. I found this to be inspirational in Britt’s case, and feel more women should use Instagram as a platform to promote positive and healthy body image be it competitive body building or simply average women promoting healthy and active lifestyles, opposed to showcasing and encouraging unattainable ideals.

Screenshots from the documentary and interview excerpts from BBC Newsbeat are shown below for additional context:

 

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“I was a size zero. I wanted to actually have that curvy figure and that’s why I got into training.”

“I think for girls, lifting weights feel good. Now they’ve got empowerment – they don’t need a man for money.”

“I work a 50 hour week as a recruitment consultant. I get up at 4am to go to the gym and then go again after work. I think there’s enough hours in the day for anyone to achieve whatever they want – and not just in fitness.”

“If you set a goal, start with 30 days then move onto 60 days – your body can change a lot. It can be done if you stick to the right diet and right training.”

“If you train smartly then you’re not going to get a big chest. Lifting weights is not going to make you look like a man.”
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Since the documentary aired, I have met up with Britt as I will be working on her personal branding for her PT business, blog and website. Furthermore, this led to discussion of my MA and the relevance of her sport and my practice. Britt has agreed to take part in an interview for research in semester 2, whilst also discussing the option of teaming up to promote positive body image utilising her ever growing following and our joint contacts. We have discussed the idea of setting up community based positive body image workshops, for both males and females to encourage body confidence and positive self-perceptions, educating participants on the media, social media, magazines and fitness in relation to this. We both want to use our professional practices to help others, share a message and engage with a community, and feel together this could be possible. This will be looked into much more heavily in semester 2.

In addition, Britt has since shared some one my social media wellbeing campaign posters via Facebook to let her following that we are planning exciting and positive projects for 2017. I really appreciated this, as allowed for feedback from a different audience as shown on the screenshot above, with a follower commenting claiming that sometimes she feels this way too, and perhaps is unaware of why. I really feel positive about the joint projects going forward, and can really feel that by working together this could be really successful and beneficial to the community. I also really appreciated the feedback, as allowed me to see that the concept of this project works and is engaging when posted in the right environment – hence the Facebook and social media development of this project in the future, working towards objective 4.B.

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Source:
BBC & Roberts, A. (2016). Get Muscly In A Month. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p04gr9vy/get-muscly-in-a-month. Last accessed 3rd December 2016.
Rhodes, B (2016) BBC Newsbeat: Why More Women are Body Building. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/38184412/why-more-young-women-are-body-building. Last accessed 3rd December 2016.
Facebook (2016) Available at: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157772910090043&set=a.10151337429050043.816310.760035042&type=3&theater. Last Accessed: 5th December 2016

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Reflection on Dunne and Raby: Critical Design in Relation to my Creative Practice

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“What is Critical Design?
Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.

What are its main relatives?
Activism
Cautionary Tales
Conceptual Design
Contestable Futures
Design Fiction
Interrogative Design
Radical Design
Satire
Social Fiction
Speculative Design”

The above is an extract taken from Dunne and Raby’s website, explaining what critical design is and it’s main associates. I came across this whilst searching for the above photo to place on my submission boards. I found it interesting that ‘satire’ was included in this list being the underlying tone of voice throughout my practical work to date, including the zines, instagram posts, wellbeing campaign and promotional packs, working towards objective 4A-D.

I feel that the critical-design approach has allowed for my initial idea of producing work to stimulate thought and conversation, much more focused being designed with this purpose in mind. This approach has allowed for feedback from my target audience (females, 18-24), working towards objective 1.

Through research, I also noted another practitioner whom works with critical-design approaches, Toni Hollowell noted throughout my research and report to date. Hollowell uses more of UI approach to the work/exhibition of reference, shown below. This is something which in Semester 2 I would like to explore. I did originally plan on working on a life-size Barbie doll project which would reflect real women and ideal women as branded dolls in an exhibit environment, however due to projects developing and collaborations taking place, as well as a wealth of research I have not had time throughout semester 1 to explore this. This is something I would like to work on going forwards.

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In this vein, I would still like to continue to work with critical-design as I feel it works well with my target audience as shown to date through feedback on my Instagram account – instagram.com/muntyandanielle

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I found that this feedback is mainly good for direction of aesthetics/topic of Instagram posts for example, due to most reaction to Kylie Cosmetics related posts, whilst being good for general feedback on concept and idea. However, I did find that even 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 working towards objective 1 solely, and will also need to carry out interviews, questionnaires and focus groups accordingly.

Sources:
http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0  Last Accessed: 2nd December 2016
http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2016/11/10/Beauty-HACKS/?_ga=1.159840061.1610888711.1468174710 Last Accessed: 25th November 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BNVsYiehmjb/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BK1oQoiBUet/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BKwYt0jhAqx/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016

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Professional Practice Report: Draft 2 & Feedback

Below shows a second draft of the report, with annotated feedback from my supervisor shown below. I was very surprised to find that there were mainly citation amends and grammatical changes opposed to content-led changes. I found this surprising as I struggled to get into writing the report at first, not quite knowing what tone of voice or structure to use, however felt reassured by this feedback.

Professional Context 1: Interim Report

 

Research Question: “A cross-cultural study in an aim to understand ‘how Social Media and Magazines within the Beauty and Fashion Industries affect our sense of body image and self-perception?’”

This report aims to contextualise progress to date in regards to resolving my working research question underpinned by a range of both professional contexts and theoretical perspectives.

As a Graphic Designer working with the Beauty and Fashion Industries on a National and International scale, I encounter ethical, social and cross-cultural issues such as, working with photography of objectified and emaciated female models. Such issues led me to question how messages being communicated may be perceived and internalised by the viewer, shaping my research question.

The Fashion and Beauty Industries are becoming more digitised through advanced technologies of Social Media and Beauty Applications for example, adding a different dimension to the media than magazines. Therefore I am interested to see how such platforms are affecting the self-perceptions of young females Internationally (16-24) with users having full curational control of both uploaded content and ‘live feed’ opposed to ideals being dictated.

In regards to a cross-cultural and International context, I am particularly interested in Japan, exploring how young females (16-24) are both represented and perceived through social media and magazines in response to the rise in blogger culture, and obsession with cultural icons. I am also interested in finding out the impacts of Western society, trends and brands dominating Eastern cultures in relation to the effects on ones self-perception and body image.

Research to date has worked towards answering my research question and learning objectives. This research has taken form of qualitative, quantitative, ethical interviews and critical-design led approaches that have shaped the direction of my current practice and methodologies.

  1. Objectives

My original proposal stated the following objectives in relation to my research question:

  1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:
  1. A) With body image (Females, 16-24)
  2. B) With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 16-24; Tokyo, Japan).
  1. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries 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 thoughts, feelings and actions in relation to body image and self-perceptions.
  1. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 16-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image.
  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. 

  1. Research Activity

2.1. Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners

Research to date has led me to a range of Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners whom resonate with my practice both in regards to theory, message and design, supporting the foundations for further research and exploratory prototype work:

  • Dunne and Raby
  • Luisa Omielan
  • Terry Richardson
  • Anna Potter (Top Girl Studio)
  • Barbara Kruger
  • Jessica Jean
  • Toni Hollowood
  • Bobbie Gastall (Bobbie Rae)
  • Scarlett Carson

Dunne and Raby (2007) have influenced my research and prototyping to date, utilising critical-design throughout my ‘Instagram Post’ project, allowing for “design proposals to challenge assumptions, preconceptions and givens”. Using this methodology has not only informed my practice, but also the direction of my research to date, with Instagram being a platform of promotion in order to directly engage and gain feedback from the target audience.

Anna Potter (2016) resonates with my practice utilising underlying satirical tones and cross-cultural contexts derived from media, cultural icons and the Internet particularly supporting my exploratory project titled, “What’s My Name Again?” in relation to message, tone, underlying context and aesthetics.

Discussion, debate and ideas generation, let to a collaborated with Bobbie Rae, an Interdisciplinary Practitioner in order to develop and strengthen practical ideas working towards a resolved visual Zine, “How to be a Blogger”. Working with Bobbi has allowed for a different perspective of an original idea to be considered, whilst adding a different aesthetic and tone to the concept, deriving a stronger outcome.

2.2. Organisations Supporting the Creative Industries

2.2a. Local/National:

In my research I have noted that Studio Spaces and Recruitment Agencies are part of my professional practice, however have not had to drawn upon these to date. I have found it more relevant to draw upon my Industry contacts to secure Interviews and Meetings with individuals/organisations in an aim to work towards answering my research question and achieving my objectives.

  • Industry Contacts/Links have secured Interviews/Meetings with:
  1. ASOS Corporate Responsibility and Design Team (ASOS HQ, London)
  2. Luisa Omielan (Comedian, London)
  3. Tam Dexter (Professional Model, Leicester)
  4. Zak Ahmed (CEO, Luxe to Kill and Runway96, Manchester)
  5. Toni Hollowood (MA Fashion Communication, CSM, London)

Social Media has again been invaluable in regards to feedback and local engagement allowing for interaction and further prototyping/idea development. I am hoping to engage with HE Institutions and Various Fashion Programmes in the UK in regards to talking to Japanese females (16-24), in order to gain International Eastern insights in a contrasting Western context.

  • Social Media:

Instagram (www.instagram.com/muntyandanielle)

  • HE Instituations:
  1. Leeds University
  2. Leeds Beckett
  3. UAL: Central St Martins (London)
  4. Manchester Metropolitan University

2.2b. International:

In my research I have noted that Self-Promotion is a key-part of my professional practice, in regards to working Internationally and establishing a cross-cultural client base, however this has not been the primary focus of my International context.

I have instead utilised various Self-Promotion platforms for promotion of my MA research and exploratory practical work in order to gain feedback, and share ideas with a critical-design led approach as noted above in relation to Instagram.

Self-Promotion Platforms include:

  • Behance (www.behance.net/daniellemuntyan)
  • Professional Website (www.daniellemuntyandesign.dunked.com)
  • Social Media: Instagram (instagram.com/muntyandanielle)

Tokyo:

In January (16th – 23rd) 2017 I will be visiting Tokyo in an aim to carry out cross-cultural field-research. To ensure research is carried out effectively to help answer my research question, the following research methodologies will be considered:

  • Visual Research
  • Comp Shopping
  • Verbal Research:
  1. Interviews
  2. Focus Groups
  • Publication (Magazine) Research
  • Technological Research

I had hoped on engaging with HE Institutions and Various Fashion Programmes in Tokyo, Japan, in hope of talking to Japanese females (16-24), in order to gain insight on how social media and Western Brands can affect self-perception and body image. I have however been unable to make contact and therefore hope on speaking with Japanese females in the UK.

HE Institutions Tokyo, Japan:

  • Bunka Fashion College
  • Tokyo Mode Gakuen College of Fashion and Beauticians

I have been put in contact with a translator via Yuko Watanabe located in Tokyo by a contact at Tokyo Disney, should a interview/meeting arise.

2.3. Recent Advances in Technologies

Advances in technologies have in my opinion dictated the direction of promotional media within the industry and therefore has taken priority through research to date.

“Media helps us to shape beauty ideas by showing certain body sizes [as] beautiful and desirable” (Rumsey, 2012) allowing for social media platforms and magazines to participate in this creation, which can be intern damaging to the users/readers self-perception through the internalisation of idealised imagery.

A rise in associated technologies has become prevalent, in regards to Photo-Manipulation, Filters, VR, Augmented Reality and Photo-Recognition technologies allowing for further development in Application Design, UI/UX and Digital Graphic Design. A key example of advanced technologies is shown demonstrating how such technologies combined with ‘brand engagement’ can be positive to the ‘customer experience’, however potentially damaging to one’s self-perception due to one’s reflection not being ‘real’.

  • Shisiedo Magic Makeup Mirror:

‘Makeup Mirrors’ originally created by Japanese cosmetics brand, Shiseido, allows for one to try on over 50 makeup products using highly advanced facial recognition technologies and augmented reality, showing a the positive impact of such advances. These generated images however can also create distorted perceptions in comparison to one’s true beauty and their actions – “when a person compares their own inner or self image to an image that has been [edited] it can pose the threat to self objectification and self absorption” (Slater and Tiggemann, 2015). In summary, it is technological advances such as this, along with issues surrounding Western ideals of ‘icons’ and bloggers’, which has informed my decision to research further into Japanese Culture.

(Image 1 – Shisiedo Makeup Mirror, Tokyo Flagship Store)

2.4. Policies

Through research to date, I have found policies and guidelines set by various organisations, charities and establishments to promote fair practice, social responsibility and ethical issues surrounding body image, model welfare and mental health within the media.

  • B-EAT (UK)
  • Model Alliance (US)
  • British Fashion Council
  • EDAW – Eating Disorder Awareness Week
  • UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG)

B-EAT (UK) and the Model Alliance (US) for example, can support, advise, promote and encourage fair and ethical practice in the media, however there is not a binding set of guidelines that enforces all retailers, magazines and brands for example to follow to proactively promote positive body image. This allows for different ‘ideals’ to be portrayed by the media causing mixed messages and perceptions for the viewer.

  • ASOS Model Welfare Policy/Social Responsibility:

The Social Responsibility team at ASOS founded the ‘Model Welfare Policy’, the only brand enforced guidelines ensuring that models have a healthy BMI and have no known mental health conditions, for example. I am interested to see whether such policies would be beneficial on a National or International scale corresponding with Objective 5.

  • Parody Law:

 

Parody law is described as “[the] copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and “transformative” purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work” (Stem, 2010) and allows for entitlements as a designer to work with creative freedom commercially. In relation to my current practice, I am working with parody and satirical perspectives in relation to cultural icon, Kylie Jenner through the mocking of her branding to represent a range of key theories and issues that surround self-perception, body image and the media.

(Image 2 – Kylie Cosmetics Logo)

(Image 3 – Exploratory Project Work “What’s My Name Again?!”)

2.5. Theoretical Perspectives

I have researched various theoretical perspectives that underpin my current practice in order to find the most relevant in relation to my research question:

– Self-Perception

– Social Identity

– Consumerism

– Mirror-Stage

– Male Gaze & Self-Surveying Gaze

– Gratification

– Objectification

– Self-Objectification

– Narcissism

– Feminism

– Communication

It has proven evident that the main theories associative with both my practice and that of relevant creative practitioners are Self-Perception and Social Identity.

Self-Perception is key to my current practice shaping my prototyping work, whilst being the anchor point of my research question understanding that, “we interpret our own actions the way we interpret others’ actions, and our actions are often socially influenced and not produced out of our own free will” (Bem, 1972) highlighting how our self-perceptions are created from third-party perspectives in a bid to feel accepted.

Social Identity supports the Self-Perception Theory stating, “ones personal identity and sense of self, is formed through their acceptance or non-acceptance into a social group, and the retrospective intergroup comparisons” being relative to social media and comparative behaviours with perceived ‘ideals’.

In regard to the media, it is argued that “status is not considered here as a scarce resource or commodity, such as power or wealth; it is the outcome of intergroup comparison”, highlighting how the media for example can trigger internalized negative self-perception and intergroup comparison also in order to feel accepted (Turner and Tafjel, 1986).

Future Directions

This project has started encouragingly encompassing the groundwork of theory and contextual understanding in relation to my research question and objectives. Going forwards, I immediately plan on continuing contacting Industry Professionals, Bloggers and Brands in Tokyo ahead of my field-research trip. To support this, I plan on researching Japanese culture, socio-cultural ideals and expectations in further depth. In addition I have arranged a field-research trip to London (7th – 8th January 2017), whereby I plan on carrying out the same methodologies as noted in 2.2b that can be used comparatively in order to understand how International brands affect self-perceptions and body image on a cross-cultural scale.

Research Methodologies Include:

  • Visual Research
  • Comp Shopping
  • Verbal Research: Interviews
  • Publication (Magazine) Research
  • Technological Research

Industry links have secured a meeting with ASOS’ Social Responsibility and Design Teams, whereby I will be discussing the ASOS Model Welfare and Positive Body Image policies further specifically in relation to my research question and objectives. Furthermore I plan on speaking with CSM MA student and designer Toni Hollowell, whilst interviewing a Supermodel and an International Female Blogger Collective, Milk and Honey, to gain a different insight and perspective regarding the issues noted in my research question.

Furthermore, as a result of idea-led discussions with Commercial Photographer Scarlett Carson, an exploratory collaboration allowing for an editorial and commercial perspective is currently being planned.

Word Count: 2199

 

Bibliography:

Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology6, 1-62.

Dunne and Raby. (2007). Critical Design FAQ. Available: http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0. Last Accessed: 28th November 2016.

Rumsey, Nichola, and Diana Harcourt. (2012) The Oxford Handbook of the Psychology of Appearance. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print. 217

Slater and Tiggemann (2015). Psychology of Women Quarterly. The Mediating Role of Appearance Comparisons in the Relationship Between Media Usage and Self-Objectification in Young Women. P. Unknown.

Stim, R. (2010). What is Fair Use?. Available: http://fairuse.stanford.edu/overview/fair-use/what-is-fair-use/. Last Accessed: 1st November 2016.

Turner, J. C., & Tajfel, H. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. Psychology of intergroup relations, 7-24.

Images:

[Image 1] https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=shiseido+makeup+mirror&biw=1471&bih=1273&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjWuqnvnszQAhXCAMAKHWGqAgIQ_AUIBygC#imgrc=qF5ISqPangXcyM%3A Last Accessed: 28/11/16

[Image 2] https://smediacacheak0.pinimg.com/564x/fb/2f/77/fb2f775c990326b393aa776bcb6330e3.jpg
Last Accessed: 28/11/16

Feedback:

professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf-1 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf2 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf3 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf-4 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf-5 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf6 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf7 professional-context-1-essay-2amm-comments-pdf8

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Professional Practice Report: Draft 1 & Feedback

Below shows the first draft of my report and feedback received, during a tutorial session with my supervisor. I found this session particularly session due to confusion initially as to whether the 2000 words should be an essay, or a report. Once clarified I found the report much easier to understand in regard to the amendments which needed to be made and why, in order to work efficiently and more accurately from the start allowing for better time keeping whilst initially getting started.

The feedback also highlighted that I could talk about my research topic in relation to local, national and international context being more relevant than studios and exhibition spaces at this point in my practice, which I feel was holding me up also on utilising the key content required to meet the set learning objectives for the module.

As I have not written academically also since my BA dissertation, I found it took some time to get back into the style of writing, adapting to a different tone of voice and triangulation to that I have been used to recently in my professional working practice.

report

report-2
report-3

Interim Report

Below shows the revised report in relation to the feedback noted and discussed above.

 

Research Question: “A cross-cultural study in an aim to understand ‘how Social Media and Magazines within the Beauty and Fashion Industries affect our sense of body image and self-perception?’”

This report aims to contextualise progress to date in regards to resolving my working research question underpinned by a range of both professional contexts and theoretical perspectives.

As a Graphic Designer working with the Beauty and Fashion Industries on a National and International scale, I encounter ethical, social and cross-cultural issues such as, working with photography of objectified and emaciated female models. Such issues led me to question how messages being communicated may be perceived and internalised by the viewer, shaping my research question.

The Fashion and Beauty Industries are becoming more digitised through advanced technologies of Social Media and Beauty Applications for example, therefore I am interested to see how such platforms are affecting the self-perceptions of young females Internationally (16-24) with users having full curational control of both uploaded content and ‘live feed’.

In regards to a cross-cultural and International context, I am particularly interested in Japan, exploring how young females (16-24) are both represented and perceived through social media and magazines in response to the rise in blogger culture, and obsession with cultural icons.

I have undertaken a vast range of research to date working towards answering my research question and learning objectives. This research has taken form of qualitative, quantitative and critical-design led approaches that have shaped the direction of my current practice and methodologies.

 

My original proposal stated the following objectives in relation to my research question:

 

Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners

My research to date has led me to a range of Creative/Interdisciplinary Practitioners whom resonate with my practice both in regards to theory, message and design, supporting the foundations for both further theoretical and contextual research and exploratory practical work:

  • Dunne and Raby
  • Luisa Omeilan
  • Terry Richardson
  • Sam Roddick
  • Barbara Kruger
  • Anna Potter (Top Girl Studio)
  • Milk and Honey
  • Dove
  • Jessica Jean
  • Toni Hollowood
  • Bobbie Gastall (Bobbie Rae)
  • Scarlett Carson

[make dunne and raby one of main people in relation ton instagram project]

Due to underlying satirical tones and cultural contexts, Luisa Omelian and Anna Potter are extremely resonant in relation to my practice. Omelian is a Comedian whom discusses issues of Body Image and Mental Health in a female context, taking a focus on cultural and societial issues and trends. Potter, also known by her pseudonym of ‘Top Girl Studio’, is a Graphic Designer whom mocks trivial issues derived from media, cultural icons and the Internet through the use of typography, copywriting, poster design and publication design. In relation to exploratory and developing practical projects, it is apparent through message, tone, underlying context and aesthetic that such practitioners have inspired by practice whilst supporting it contextually.

Furthermore, through discussion, debate and ideas generation, I have formed collaborations with Bobbie Rae, an Interdisciplinary Practitioner in order to develop, push, refine and strengthen practical ideas working towards a resolved visual supporting my working research question.

Organisations Supporting the Creative Industries

Local:

Below shows a range of local organisations that I currently engage with on a regular basis to support and develop my practice.

  • Networking/Idea Sharing Groups: Penguin Posse at HEART
  • The Calls, Studio Space/Mentoring; shared with Gaz Battersby
  • Recruitment Agencies: The Book, Orchard

National:

Noted below are national organisations that currently support my current practice. Debut Magazine are particularly resonant with my current practice, positioning themselves as a publication that supports females working in the creative industries. I recently began with Debut as a Freelance Art Editor, and feel this along with associative networking groups with only further support not only my current practice, but my working research question also.

  • D&AD
  • Debut Magazine/Graphik Magazine
  • Recruitment Agencies: Tailsman Fashion, Fashion & Retail Personnel, Denza, Elite Associates, Christian Bassett
  • Networking Groups: Magma and Laurence King, Debut Magazine

International:

Below shows a list of self-promotion strategies and recruitment agencies used to promote my practice on an international scale. I have found Behance in particular, along with my professional website to be most effective in regards to reaching clients in countries such as Kuwait and Australia. Not only is Behance for example, beneficial to working as a Freelance designer, networking and generating ‘work’ for instance, I also find this platform invaluable for sharing work, ideas and ultimately, conveying a message to an international audience, which is what I feel continues to push and develop my current practice.

  • Behance
  • Professional Website
  • Big Cartel Store
  • Social Media: Professional Instagram, Facebook Business Page, LinkedIn
  • Recruitment Agencies: Christian Bassett (London. Europe. USA. Middle East. Asia Pacific & Japan), Drapers, The BoF

2.3. Recent Advances in Technologies

Whilst technologies and social media have become more developed, advanced and interlinked with my professional practice, it has become natural to use such digital platforms as discussed above to promote and support my practice. However, in regards to my working research question, recent advances in technologies specifically within the beauty and fashion industries has in my opinion dictated the direction of promotional media and therefore has taken much focus throughout my research to date. Fashion Magazines allow for Editors to dictate content, norms, trends and ‘ideals’ whilst social media allows for users, brands and cultural icons alike to curate and dictate their own instant, visual streams taking the focus away from print due to instant accessibility to connect and share on an international and cross-cultural range of platforms.

Platforms designed for ‘photo-sharing’, such as Instagram can be looked at in both a positive and negative light depending on ones perception and use. Instagram positively allows for individuals to share or privately curate their memories, or artwork, for example, whilst also allowing for individuals to share and explore within international communities. Furthermore, in a world whereby ‘ideals’ are pre-determined by the media, this platform allows for users to participate and obtain a sense of inclusivity if one withholds the right identity, which can be intern damaging to ones self-perception through the internalisation of idealised imagery.

Furthermore, a rise in associated technologies has become prevalent of late, in regards to photo-editing, filters, VR, Augmented Reality and Photo-Recognition technologies allowing for further development in application design, in-store retail design and digital graphic design.

Below shows a key example of advanced technologies, showing how UI and UX development combined with ‘brand engagement’ can be positive to the ‘customer experience’, however due to ones reflection not being ‘real’ may heavily impact upon ones self-perception and confidence in return.

  • Beauty Mirrors

‘Beauty Mirrors’ were originally created by Japanese cosmetics brand, Shiseido, and allows for one to try on a full range of makeup products using highly advanced facial recognition technologies. Even though this saves one time trying products on in-store, how does one feel if the reflection does not match their interpretation of recreating this look? Furthermore, L’Oreal created an app titled, ‘Makeup Genius’ for use in China allowing for women whom feel stigmatised by cosmetics to feel comfortable trying them in their own home, showing a positive and pro-active use to boosting confidence through technologies, however on the flipside it is apparent how these generated images can created distorted perceptions in comparison to one’s true beauty.

Policies

In support of my current practice and working research question, there are policies set by various organisations and establishments to ensure that fair practice, social responsibility and ethical issues are considered in regards to body image and mental health.

  • B-EAT
  • Clear Channel
  • Model Alliance
  • British Fashion Council
  • EDAW – Eating Disorder Awareness Week
  • UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG)
  • Government Equalities Unit
  • Equalities Ministers Advisory Group

The above organisations such as B-EAT for example, can support, advise, promote and encourage fair and ethical practice in the media, when issues regards body image and mental health arise, however there is not a binding set of guidelines which enforces all retailers, magazines and brands for example to follow in relation to proactively promote positive body image. This allows for different ‘ideals’ to be portrayed by the media causing mixed messages and perceptions for the viewer.

  • ASOS Model Welfare Policy/Social Responsibility

In contrast to the above, the Social Responsibilty team at ASOS founded the ‘Model Welfare Policy’. This policy ensures that their guidelines are abided by at all times, to ensure that models fall into a healthy BMI category, have no existing medical conditions and ‘fit in’ with a range of International body shapes, sizes and ‘ideals’ amongst much more. ASOS are one of the only ecommerce retailers to re-photograph non own-brand goods to ensure fair practice. I have arranged a meeting with ASOS for January 2017, and hope to discuss their policy further in depth. I hope to gain professional perspectives in relation to the fashion industry, body and self-perception allowing to strengthen, support and develop both my practice and on-going research.

  • Parody Law

In relation to my current practice, I am working with parody and satirical perspectives in regards to my practical experiments to date and have at times heavily mocked the cultural icon, Kylie Jenner in regards to being objectified as a marketing commodity, encouraging changes in self-perception and promoting body dissatisfaction amongst the masses. By using a parody to represent such ‘icon’ through the mocking of her branding to represent a range of key theories and issues that surround this issue, I felt it was of upmost importance to ensure that I am complying with Parody Law which protects creatives from legal issues such as Copyright. Even though I am not directly using copyrighted material, but simply mocking it, I believe it is still good practice to be aware of such policies that support my practice.

2.5. Theoretical Perspectives

With my working research question being quite broad, I have naturally researched various theoretical perspectives that underpin my current practice:

– Self-Perception

– Social Identity Theory

– Consumerism

– Mirror-Stage

– Male Gaze & Self-Surveying Gaze

– Gratification Theory

– Objectification Theory

– Self-Objectification Theory

– Narcissism

– Feminism

– Semiotics

– Communication

I have found that the main theories which are associative with both my practice and that of relevant creative practitioners to be that of Self-Perception and Social Identity.

Self-Perception is integral part of my current practice shaping my exploratory practical work to date, being the anchor point of my research question understanding how we recognise and value ourselves based on third party perspectives, such as social media comments for example, whilst Social Identity Theory shows how ones personal identity and sense of self, is formed through their acceptance or non-acceptance into a social group, and the retrospective intergroup comparisons, again being relative to social media and comparative behaviours with perceived ‘ideals’ for example.

These theories are also extremely resonant with the works of both Omeilan and Potter as noted previously, with Omeilan highlighting issues of Self-Perception in her stage show, “Am I Right Ladies?” whilst Potter’s work titled, “iGirl” mocking the relationship and competitive, altered behaviours that many females have with social media and photo-sharing in relation to ‘fitting in’ and conforming with societies pre-set ideals.

Word Count: 1986

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