Makayla Starr: 5 Year Old Instagram Beauty Blogger

This is working towards objective 1.

I have previously discussed children being objectified for the media in relation to beauty pageants as noted which analysing a video from an interview on This Morning with Sami Bushell, whom fake tan’s her 3-year-old daughter. I wrote that, “this [was] resonant with Lacan and Freud’s understanding of the ‘Mirror Stage’, whereby between 6 to 18 months old, a child becomes self-aware of their reflection in a mirror, and becomes concious of such reflection, even though at this stage of their lives have very little mental or physical abilities which are possessed by adults. This shows that whilst even though a child can not control how they look, they become aware, and become aware of what they see is normal, relating back to the Beauty Pageant and Saami Bushell’s daughter as noted above” (this post can be found here) and feel that this can also be applied in this context also. I came across the below child-beauty blogger whilst scrolling through Instagram (a source of research, feedback and self-promotion of work in regards to this MA) and came across a video re-posted by make-up artist turned cosmetics designer, ‘HudaBeauty’. The video can be seen below – a 5-year-old girl (Instagram: ‘Makayla.Starr’) flawlessly applying makeup, being charismatic and acting like any 20-something-year-old would do in the same ‘position’. The video was evidently reposted after watching all the way through due to one of Huda’s eyeshadow palettes being featured – an interesting form of objectifying advertising in my opinion, exposing a vulnerable child for ‘likes’ and ‘cute’ comments whilst inevitably boosting sales, and exposure of Makayla herself disregarding how this may affect how people perceive her and judge her at a young age, whilst also giving others the impression that this is ‘okay’ and ‘normal’.

Similarly to Bushell, Makayla’s Instagram page is ran by her mum, which raises a range of questions and issues which I feel should be discussed in relation to my working research question and current practice.

I personally find it quite troubling at a mother is allowing her daughter  of 5-years-old to take part in such adult activities, let alone publicly show this to the world. When I found this profile, Makayla had 191k followers as shown on the screenshot. A few days later when I have come to writing this post, her account has now reached 229k followers and a collaboration with “Glitter Injections” (the first photo on the Instagram screenshot) showing how quickly she is gaining a following, however along with a following comes scrutiny or praise which are reflected in the comments and ‘feedback’.

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Above Image Source

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Above Images – Screenshots of Video Tutorial

The above video is how I came to find Makayala – a video tutorial originally posted by Huda Beauty. This video shows Makaylya doing her makeup like a true professional, contouring and using a range of products as 20-something-year-olds-would. Also being professionally filmed, it is evident that this along with her other posts have been planned with her mum. I also found it quite disturbing that the caption is written like a true makeup artist or blogger, perfectly compiled and grammatically correct – more than that of a 5-year-old alone could achieve. To counteract the fact her mum has put together the captions for Makayalas’ posts are girly and cute emoticons to bring back down the tone and appeal to a younger, female audience.

I really, heavily disagree with this video in the sense that from a young age, 18-months as Freud and Lacan note in the ‘Mirror Theory’ stage, become aware of their reflection and subsequent ego, allowing for Makayla to recognise herself dressed up as such and perceive this as normal as she grows up. I also feel also though she is being heavily objectified as a marketing commodity promoting brands, and with other brands and makeup artists for example such as Huda Beauty, re-posting this video for likes, follows and to drive sales. Furthermore, as Fredreckson and Roberts (2008) point out in their Self-Objectification theory that “valuing one’s own body from a third-person-perspective” is more important than their own thoughts about themselves, recognising their value visually and physically opposed to emotionally and intelectually. I feel that this theory can be embedded into a child at a young age if placed in objectifying scenarios such as this, paginating or cheerleading for example.

I feel that by posting videos as above, and photographs as shown below, it is apparent that perhaps she is unaware of how such exposure and objectification can and may affect her mentally in the future, and may also affect her self-perception due to “[interpreting] our own actions the way we interpret others’ actions, and our actions are often socially influenced and not produced out of our own free will, as we might expect[1]”, Bem (1972). I feel that this quote from Bem summarises that our self-perceptions are created by how we put ourselves out there, therefore curating a desired image. I believe that this is what will happen with Makayla, her perception will be curated by that of the image she puts out there but also with how this is perceived by others intern shaping her own perceptions. At a young age, I feel this cycle is dangerous and could lead to issues with her identity and mental health, for example as she grows older, whilst also opening up avenues for public shaming and bullying for example for those whom do not agree with what she is doing due to having such a public platform which appears, evidently to be growing at an extremely quick rate. In addition to this, I wonder how this image may affect others her age at school for example, or whilst having ‘playtime’ if this is her ‘image’ all the time. Does this make other children feel as though this is normal seeing not only their elders, people on tv, parents, peers and now friends with made-up faces and dyed hair. Will this make them feel less confident and insecure about themselves ensuing changes are made?

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In regards to the image shown and discussed above, I briefly noted how bullying and public shaming could come into play using social media as a platform to share her ‘looks’, however I have also noted many negative comments from those whom don’t agree which such actions. The below comments have been taken as screenshots from the above photo. I was surprised to see how many people asked about her age, disagreed with the actions of hair dying and cosmetics at 5-year-old and publicly shamed her mum for “showing [your] kid how to not love themselves for who they are… at a young age” (‘breezy hall’) and also criticised dental hygiene suggesting that the focus has been placed in the wrong place when bringing up a child. I particularly found this comment quite moving, “she’s so young to be learning about which insecurities to cover up” (‘alexis.emerald’) in regards to the truth to behind why women ultimately wear make-up; to improve their appearance and hide blemishes. No child of 5-year-old needs to improve their appearance or cover up their innocent, natural beauty which is the main consensus from the comments shown below.

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Above shows another screenshot from Makayla’s Instagram page, however this time appears to be a much more sexually-objectifying photo gaining a wide-range of comments and feedback, both positive and negative. I find this image much more alarming in comparison to the above in the sense that this has been shared on social media on a public profile being on 5-years-old. Opposed to objectifying her ‘beauty’ and make-up skills, this image sexually-objectifies her body in a way which causes alarm for many of the ‘commenters’.

The range of comments below show that of an inappropriate sexual nature, whilst many also comment on this raising the point that simply anyone in the world, anywhere can access this photograph at any given time. I feel this one comment from ‘melzy005’ summarises this concisely, “don’t u realise there’s pedophiles on the net! I would keep your daughters page private! Seriously mother look what that person said about posting the childs bedroom! There’s one right there! Also wtf she’s only 5!”.

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Upon further research I came across an article on Allure, which showed videos and photos of Makayla in January 2016, noting that “Lou Flores, a celebrity makeup artist who has close to 1 million Instagram followers, has been posting videos of her insanely adorable four-year-old niece Makayla showing off her hairstyles and makeup products” explaining how Makayla has reached such fame so quickly, whilst also explaining why she appears to be so good at makeup. This reveals to me that Makayla has most likely grown up from a young age as previously discussed, being aware of her ‘image’ and ego, whilst growing up watching a professional apply makeup to learn from has most likely had a huge influence on her, whilst most likely also being an encouragement. This evidences Freud and Lacan’s Mirror Stage Theory noting that from an early age Makayla has been exposed to such visuals, norms and ideals affecting her self-perception from a very young age, therefore now at the age of 5, most likely feels as though this is the norm and is considered socially and culturally accepted.

Below shows images of Makayla on Lou Flores Instagram page prior to having her own set up by her mum.

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Above Image Source

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In addition to the Instagram star Makayla Starr discussed above in regards to objectification, I came across whilst researching the topic the above image – a spread taken from Vogue France. “Quel maquillage a quel age” translating to “what makeup at what age?” boasts the headline overlaying an image a young girl holding a Tom Ford lipstick and glaring at her gaze intently in the mirror, being extremely aware of herself, her actions and objectification.

Fredericton and Roberts (1998) wrote that “objectification occurs whenever a woman’s body, body parts, or sexual functions are separated out from her person, reduced to the status of mere instruments, or regarded as if they were capable of representing her. In other words women are treated as bodies – and in particular, as bodies that exist for the use and pleasure of others” and feel even though the subject matter is a ‘woman’ the child in question on said photograph is being objectified in the same manner as that of a fully-grown woman. Even though the headline questions almost whether makeup at a young age is a good idea or not, the associative images are quite provocative and representative of a “woman’s body [or] body parts”. I feel it is such explicit imagery which could be taken as as more teen or adult which can damage expectations of beauty at such young ages not only for the child, but their parents also.

Sources:
Jackson, R. (2016). This 4-Year-Old Instagram Star Is Probably Better at Hair and Makeup Than You Are. Available: http://www.allure.com/story/lou-flores-instagram-videos. Last accessed 20th November 2016.
Starr, M. (2016). Makayla.Starr. Available: https://www.instagram.com/makayla.starr/?hl=en. Last accessed 20th November 2016.
Noll, S & Fredrickson, B (1998). Objectification Theory. Psychology of Women, 22: Printed in the United States of America. P. 626.
[1] Bem, D. J. (1972). Self-perception theory. Advances in experimental social psychology6, 1-62.
Dove. (2013).
Image. Available: http://objectificationofchildren.yolasite.com/resources/objectification%202.jpg. Last accessed 20th November 2016.
Fredrickson, B & Roberts, T (1998). Objectification Theory. Psychology of Women, 22: Printed in the United States of America. P.173.

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Sourcing ‘Glitter’ Perspex Acrylic

This is working towards objective 4.C.

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After creating the above badges using an ivory 3mm acrylic, and a 3mm sparkle acrylic, I posted the photos on social media and they received a really positive reaction. I also posted photos of the red/cream and red/sparkle combos, and again the pink sparkle remained the favourite in colour. I feel personally that this is due to being quite girly, fun and appropriate with the context in association with a young, female target audience. Furthermore, pin badges have recently in the past few months become quite a big trend, and therefore feel this is another reason why on Instagram did well. I appreciate this feedback as it allows me to make judgments going forward. I had 3 messages via Instagram asking if a badge could be purchased. Making prototypes at first, and not ‘by trade’ being a product-maker, had not considered making such products for sale, however thought going forward perhaps may be worth while considering as a hobby or even as a part of this project – by building a range of products for the “what’s my name again?!” project, at some point I could set up an online campaign site with an associate promotional merchandise store page selling such products, or could enquire about craft fairs such as at Belgrave, LCA fairs, The Corn Exchange, Makers Markets and Easy fairs which I could potentially hold a stall at. I feel that by attending one of the events perhaps in the future and trailing this out, this could also be a very good form of feedback and first hand research engaging with the public and seeing their reactions/noting their discourse surrounding the concept at hand. This would also share the message which I am striving for and the ultimate reason as to why this project was started. By showcasing products such as this on social media and on online stores/campaign sites/website etc, I would be reaching a local, national and international audience, opposed to a local audience as noted above.

In response to the above, I wanted to research into how much coloured sparkle acrylics are to create different colour combinations and to introduce totally new designs also if I was to go forward and develop this element of the project further.

I had obtained the pink acrylic when I was studying for my BA(Hons) Graphic Design degree and never actually used it. I thought to make the most of it would trial it not expecting such good feedback. I was aware that it did cost around 4 times as much as standard 3mm acrylic but did not realise how hard it was to source, especially in smaller, affordable sizes.

‘Sheet Plastics’ online store as shown below stock a range of coloured sparkle acrylic but only in large sizes at 1850 x 1250 inch and costs £291.67 excluding VAT. This is too expensive to buy for further experiments and would only be viable if mass producing products to sell.

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From here, I tried the official Perspex company whom design and produce a vast range of acrylics. Via there website found that they have a Leeds distribution office. I called and enquired in regards to the specific pink glitter acrylic needed at A3 size at the largest, and was told that they don’t have any stock currently however again only supply in large sizes and mainly to trade, i.e. for kitchen splash backs. However, upon a long discussion about the pink acrylic, the lady spoken to was kind enough to offer to send me samples of a similar Pink Pearlescent acrylic which she recommended as an alternative, therefore I can produce a sample to photograph and submit without a huge cost implication.

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From this I found The Plastic Shop, again whom have a local distribution centre in Leeds to see if they sourced the acrylic needed at the right size. The same as above was noted, being that there isn’t any in stock but alternate samples could be arranged. Due to it not being most popular, it is assumed that it is not produced and distributed as widely as more standard, primary colours.

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Following this I happened to stumble on to Hindley’s which is a UK supplier of acrylics and design materials, i.e. wood, etc, and happened to find the exact product I am looking for at a more reasonable cost and size, 60cm x 40 cm at £28.01 with VAT. Even though it took almost a day of phone calls and endless websites, I am happy to of found a supplier which can deliver efficiently in the UK, and which has the right product in stock at a reasonable price.

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Interim Submission: Professional Context Presentation 2

Below shows my second Professional Context presentation focusing on the theories surrounding my current practice in relation to my working research question.

I have applied feedback as noted on a previous post following a run-through in last week’s tutorial with my supervisor Anne-Marie, in order to make my presentation smoother in regards to flow whilst ensuring that the content chosen is relevant and concisely put across, allowing to keep within my time limit of 5 minutes.

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SLIDE 1 – INTRODUCTION

This presentation will cover the key theoretical perspectives in relation to my current research and practice.

I feel as though the media should be held accountable in regards to being responsible for promoting ‘ideals’ of women, leading to theorists to discuss and debate options as to why women’s self-perception can change through these external influences, triggering internal influences and critiques.

My working research question is, “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?” and have therefore listed various theories I have touched on during research in relation to my specific research question. However, for the purposes of this presentation I will cover several key theories, which I feel at this moment in time, are most relevant to my practice – Self-Perception Theory, Social Identity Theory, The Male Gaze and The Self Surveying Gaze, along with the Theories of Objectification and Self-Objectification.

Self-Perception is integral part of my current practice shaping my practical work to date, being the anchor point of my research question, whilst the other noted theories are of importance due to underpinning the links between context and graphic design.

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SLIDE 2 – SELF-PERCEPTION THEORY

It is said that “Self-perception theory is counterintuitive. Common knowledge would have us assume that a person’s personality and attitudes drive their actions; however, self-perception theory shows that this is not always the case. In simple terms, it illustrates that “we are what we do.” We interpret our actions and the actions of others, therefore allowing our actions to be socially influenced opposed to be being completely self-led. I felt that this resonated with the current trends of social media surrounding the beauty and fashion indsutries, whereby we often see whose whom actions and appearances are ‘socially informed’ opposed to produced from freewill.

This demonsrated with two images shown – one of Kim Kardashian, and one of Makeup Artist/Instagram Icon, Amreezy – both show that they are practically holding the same pose in similar attire, with similar postures and facial features. Does this example alone represent how social media has affected our self-perception, allowing us to feel it is okay to perceive ourselves, or see ourselves in a similar way to others in order to attain positive appraisal? This is one example, shows how us the public, can use our aspirations and socio-culturally accepted ‘ideals’ to shape our own identities and egos, which leads me on to the theory of Social Identity.

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SLIDE 3 – SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY

Henri Tajfel and John Turner in 1979, and stated “part of a person’s concept of self comes from the groups to which that person belongs. An individual does not just have a personal selfhood, but multiple selves and identities associated with their affiliated groups. A person might act differently in varying social contexts according to the groups they belong to” acknowledging the fact that people act different, and at times look differently also depending on their social situation.

Tafjel and Turner note we belong to ‘social groups’, however this can also be said for the way that people now position themselves on Social Media, changing their identities to ‘fit in’, whilst celebrities often featured in weekly gossip magazines, do the same. This can also be said for alternate groups of people also, especially within the fashion indsutry whereby perhaps they do not fit in the groups that are perceived as ‘normal’ by many, and may not necessarily fit in with the mainstream trends.

The image of the Harajuku girls has been selected as this ‘group’ have accepted the social identity of which they belong and feel satisfied. I feel this image is really important as it is a huge contrasts to the imagery shown from Japan Vogue in my last presentation whereby Japanese women were told that they had to change their to ‘fit in’ and be accepted by society, with Turner and Tafjel stating that “individuals strive to achieve or maintain positive social identity”.

This can be seen represented in the Social Identity Theory model, which 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. ­

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SLIDE 4 – MALE GAZE AND THE SELF SURVEYING GAZE

In seeking social acceptance and aesthetic approval, the idea of the “Male Gaze” theory is prevalent. Rumsey, stated that, “Media help us to shape beauty ideas by showing certain body sizes [as] beautiful and desirable” summarising how the fashion and beauty industries alike can affect our self-perception and perceptions of others due to a pre-determined ideal which is embedded in our subconscious.

For example, a photograph of the original 1950’s Playboy Bunnies on the left shows how women knew they were objects of male attention and the male gaze, proudly wearing their corset-based uniforms, in turn becoming the ‘ideal’ and subsequent ‘sex symbols’.

Many theorists have noted the male gaze, however I found this particular quote from Shields quite revealing showing how women’s perspectives of themselves can change as a result of a male eye, viewing themselves from such view point instead of their own allowing for one to ‘appeal’ –

“[the] ‘male gaze’ transforms women into objects of the heterosexual man’s eye …
advertisements and other images of women are shot in such ways that encourage female audiences to adopt a certain perspective when looking at other women and themselves” therefore internalizing the male gaze and the medias pre-set ideals triggering, “the self-surveying gaze”.

This is represented via the right hand side image, whereby our self-perception becomes distorted, not being able to recognise the ideal nor reality, adding pressures to look a certain way due to this new, internal influence.

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SLIDE 5 – OBJECTIFICATION AND SELF-OBJECTIFICATION THEORY­­

In addition to the various theories discussed, I believe Frederickson and Roberts’ theory of Objectification is key to understanding how women are portrayed in the media, suggesting that women may perceive themselves as objects or commodities that are there to be looked at, and judged accordingly.

It is said “objectification occurs whenever a woman’s body, body parts, or sexual functions are separated out from her person, reduced to the status of mere instruments, or regarded as if they were capable of representing her. In other words women are treated as bodies – and in particular, as bodies that exist for the use and pleasure of others”

Looking at the photograph of Sarah Gonzalaz, a Makeup Artist turned Instagram icon, this theory can be seen, with Sarah recognising the need to objectify herself and her body as a commodity and marketing tool, knowing what the ‘outsiders’ want to see, internalising this and therefore becomes an example of self-objectification. Furthermore on the right hand side, an editorial from Vogue France can be seen whereby a young girl is being objectified through the use of her body part’s, being separated out as commodities of influence, holding a seductive glare and being vary aware of her ego, encompassing many of the theoretical perspectives considered throughout this presentation.

To summarise, Fredrickson and Roberts define self-objectification “as valuing one’s own body [from] a third-person perspective, focusing on observable body attributes”.

Combined I feel this short overview of key theories, shows how powerful both social media and magazines can be within the beauty and fashion industries, especially when regarding our perceptions, not only of ourselves, but of others also, encouraging change for external pleasures, approval and acceptance.

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Tutorial Feedback: Professional Context Presentation 2

I have scanned in the feedback written on my presentation slides below in order to document going forward and for future reference, what needs to be improved/re-worked etc prior to the interim submission.

For the presentation, I wrote too much to say aurally, and didn’t feature much text on my slides and feel this is one of the reasons I went over the 5 minutes allocated, whilst also knowing now that I should of been more selective with my content. However, this was the reason why it was asked if I could run-through my presentation with Anne-Marie prior to delivery and submission.

The feedback received has been noted in bullet points below for clarity:

Slide 1

  • Good opening structure re-capping on research question, and re-visiting context of previous presentation.
  • Drawn upon key theories in breadth, whilst then narrowing this down to key, most-relevant theories to my current practice to talk about, analyse and critique in more detail.
  • Give more examples in relation to my current practice whilst referencing slides and visuals.

Slide 2

  • Review citations – am I referencing quotes and facts correctly? (check throughout remainder of slides also)
  • Note Social Media and Fashion – rise of prominence of social media via brands, celebs, icons, bloggers and stores for example – to ensure relevance to current practice and research question
  • Objectification Theory could also be noted here briefly if desired due to relevant imagery, whilst being associative theories of Self-Perception and Objectification working hand-in-hand.

Slide 3

  • Harajuku girls in relation to identity theory, give an International Context to both my current practice, research question and noted theories. Ensure when delivering presentation to talk about relevance of research trip to Tokyo, for example.

Slide 4

  • Citations to be reviewed.
  • Related Mental Health and right-hand side photograph to previous presentation, eating disorders and organisations such as B-EAT for example as currently discussed and critiqued.

Slide 5

  • Citations to be reviewed.
  • Talk about quotes specifically in relation to key research on blog/research question/current practice/recent projects/photo on slide.

Overall I feel more confident and positive in regards to this presentation opposed to the first, and really feel that this is due to having a slightly different set-up in the tutorial acting as a mini presentation and assessment itself to ensure I am the best prepared I can be in order to alleviate problems as noted above prior to delivery next week.

Furthermore, I feel I have not been critiqued that heavily on my content which I feel is a positive and feel reassures me that I am working in the right direction, in regards to collating research to both answer my research question, and to strengthen my practical work and concepts.

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Research: Draft Consent Form and Information Sheet/Ethics Policy

This is working towards objective 3.

Below shows an initial draft of a consent form and information sheet for primary research purposes. This is my first attempt at creating such documents, and have tried my best to do so alongside the LCA Ethics Policy. I am awaiting feedback on these from my supervisor, to ensure that they comply, and if not to give constructive feedback so going forward I am fully aware and competent in regards to using and being aware of this in relation to my practice. Following this feedback I will make necessary amends before starting to apply these to my research.

It is important to apply such policies to my research in order to ensure fair practice, whilst protecting not only myself but the research participant/interviewee for example. This ensures topics such as confidentiality, data protection, storage of data are covered to ensure I am working and researching fairly, and using the data in the consented manner, whilst also ensuring that topics of discomfort for example are also disclosed to ensure that the participant is comfortable taking part, and with the questions that will be asked, for example. I am considering sending over questionnaires/interview questions to consented participants prior to taking part along with the consent forms to both ensure they are comfortable with taking part, whilst also giving more clarity on what is being asked of them.

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Script and Initial Draft: Professional Context Presentation 2

Below shows the initial draft and script for the 2nd Professional Context presentation. I have prepared this in advance in order to run-through with my supervisor to ensure I am within time, conforming with feedback received in the last presentation and delivering relevant content. Following this run-through, I will edit the slides prior to the interim submission, and furthermore update and work on the script to ensure I feel confident and fully prepared ahead of delivering the presentation. I felt last time being overtime and being conscious of this, put me off slightly and made me feel quite nervous not allowing me to get across all of the relevant points as concisely as desired, and feel some of the key points of my current practice were missed out due to this. Therefore, I want to ensure these problems are alleviated prior to the the day.

SLIDE 1 – INTRODUCTION

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I feel as though the media should be held accountable in regards to being responsible in regards to promoting ‘ideals’ for women in particular to aspire to be like, leading to theorists to discuss and debate options as to why women’s self-perception can change through these external influences.

My research question is, “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?” and have therefore been looking into and researching various theories coinciding with my current practice.

I have listed various theories, I have touched on during research in relation to my specific research question, however, for the purposes of this presentation will cover several key theories which I feel at this moment in time are most relevant to my practice – Self-Perception Theory, Social Identity Theory, The Male Gaze and The Self Surveying Gaze, along with the Theories of Objectification and Self-Objectification.

 

SLIDE 2 – SELF-PERCEPTION THEORY

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Theorist Bem in 1972 noted that, the “self-perception theory is counterintuitive. Common knowledge would have us assume that a person’s personality and attitudes drive their actions; however, self-perception theory shows that this is not always the case. In simple terms, it illustrates that “we are what we do.” I found it interesting that Bem continued to state that we interpret our actions and the actions of others, therefore allowing our actions to be socially influenced opposed to be being completely self-led.

Bem also noted that, “according to self-perception theory, we interpret our own actions the way we interpret others’ actions, and our actions are often socially influenced and not produced out of our own free will, as we might expect.” I found that this resonated with the two images shown – one of Kim Kardashian, and one of Makeup Artist/Instagram Icon, Amreezy – both show that they are practically holding the same pose in similar attire, with similar postures and facial features. Does this example alone represent how social media has affected our self-perception into allowing us to feel it is okay to perceive ourselves, or see ourselves in a similar way to others in order to attain positive appraisal? This is one example, of how us the public, can use our aspirations and ‘ideals’ to shape our own identities and egos, which leads me on to the theory of Social Identity.

 

SLIDE 3 – SOCIAL IDENTITY THEORY

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The Social identity theory was originated from two British social psychologists – Henri Tajfel and John Turner in 1979, and states that “part of a person’s concept of self comes from the groups to which that person belongs. An individual does not just have a personal selfhood, but multiple selves and identities associated with their affiliated groups. A person might act differently in varying social contexts according to the groups they belong to” acknowledging the fact that people act different, and at times look differently also depending on their social situation at the time. Tafjel and Turner note that this could be groups such as sports teams or family, however this can also be said for the way that people now position themselves on Social Media, curating their identities to ‘fit in’, whilst celebrities often featured in weekly gossip magazines, do the same. This can also be said for alternate groups of people also, especially within fashion whereby perhaps they do not fit in the groups that are perceived as ‘normal’ by many. This can be seen in the image of the Harajuku girls, whom have accepted the social identity of which they belong and feel satisfied with their social identity.

This is reflected through the shown Social Identity Theory model, which 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. ­

Tafjel and Turner also note how “individuals strive to achieve or maintain positive social identity” in order to feel accepted and confident. This is profoundly common on Social Media with many girls posting photos for aesthetic approval and the boost of their self-esteem.

 

SLIDE 4 – MALE GAZE AND THE SELF SURVEYING GAZE

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Furthermore, in seeking this approval, the idea of the “Male Gaze” is evident within theory especially from Feminist writers. Rumsey, a theorist, stated that, “Media help us to shape beauty ideas by showing certain body sizes [as] beautiful and desirable”. For example, a photograph of the original 1950’s Playboy Bunnies shows how women knew they were objects of male attention and the male gaze, proudly wearing their corset-based uniforms, in turn becoming the ‘ideal’ and subsequent ‘sex symbols’. At the time, an ‘ideal’ for women to aspire to was, curvy in the right places and this was deemed as ‘perfect’ in the eyes of the media. Various theorists, such as Lacan, Berger, Mulvey, Heinecken and Frekrickson have noted the male gaze in their writings, however I found this particular quote from Shields quite interesting showing how women’s perspectives of themselves can change as a result of doing so –

“[the] ‘male gaze’ transforms women into objects of the heterosexual man’s eye …
advertisements and other images of women are shot in such ways that encourage female audiences to adopt a certain perspective when looking at other women and themselves.”

However, as also noted by Shields, “media representations tend to include cultural norms concerning appearance which corrupt and confuse the expectation of beauty. This corruption, then, can cause the internalization of the male gaze, the self-surveying gaze to become overwhelming, and in turn, distorted”.

This can be shown in the right hand side image, whereby our perceptions of ourselves become distorted, not being able to recognise the ideal nor reality, adding pressures to look a certain way due to this new, internal influence. This image in particular also shows the pressures of modern day, with mixed messages on the ideal through a bombardment of photography and media. Furthermore, this also shows how eating disorders can be triggered through our altered perceptions and beliefs.

 

SLIDE 5 – OBJECTIFICATION AND SELF-OBJECTIFICATION THEORY­­

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In addition to the the Male Gaze and Self Surveying Gaze theories, Fredrickson and Roberts carried out social and psychological experiments which “asserted that women to varying degrees internalise an outsider view and begin to self-objectify by treating themselves as an object to be looked at and evaluated on the basis of appearance” adding the idea that women may perceive themselves as objects that are there to be looked at and judged accordingly.

Looking at the photograph of Sarah Gonzalaz, a Makeup Artist turned Instagram icon, evidence of this theory can be seen, with Sarah recognising the need to objectify herself as a commodity and marketing tool, knowing what the ‘outsiders’ want to see, internalising this and therefore becoming a walking example of this ideology.

Furthermore, a model was drawn up by Fredrickson and Roberts underpinning this theory, whilst in response two different theorists, Thompson and Heinberg commented on this stating that, “a socio-cultural model emphasizes that the current societal standard for thinness, as well as other difficult-to-achieve standards of beauty for women, is omnipresent and without resorting to extreme and maladaptive behaviours, but impossible to achieve for the average woman” showing how by undergoing such bodily changes in order to objectify oneself to the cultural and societial pre-determined ideals of beauty and physique, one can easily fall into the realms of psychological side-effects and health risks such as eating disorders and depression.

Combined I feel this short overview of key theories, shows how powerful the media can be when regarding our perceptions, of not only ourselves, but others also encouraging change for external pleasures, approval and acceptance.

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(Sexual) Objectification and Self-Objectification Theory

This is working towards objective 1.

After reading the thesis by Klein, K (2013) as analysed and discussed on a previous, yet recent post, I wanted to look further into Objectification again, as well as the idea of Self-Objectification. I found both of these theories extremely relevant and resonant with both my current practice and my working research question, looking at how these noted topics can affect our self-perception and sense of body image – not only in regards to Fashion photography, editorials, campaigns and magazines, but also in the context of the Beauty industry and social media. Furthermore, objectification has also been noted in regards to the photography choices chosen for my Kylie Jenner zine, using photographs taken by Terry Richardson in order to highlight how she is being used as a commodity, or object to sell magazines and products for example, whilst also allowing the end-user to consider this in the context of which the photos sit.

Furthermore, I also see this in the sense of an object, and how an object becomes an icon and how an icon can be seen as an object respectively. This is what the Objectification and Self-Objectification theories pose, with Fredrickson and Roberts (1998) stated that, “women’s bodies are looked at, evaluated and always potentially objectified” allowing one to consider that a woman may not actually be seen as a human by some, and just a commodity to evaluate and objectify, allowing for women to “internalise an observer’s perspective as a primary view of their physical selves” suggesting that one may then “monitor” themselves and react to these perspectives, making them “socialised to view and turn themselves in objects”. This is also regarded as “self-perception”.

This is particularly resonant in regards to the current uproar in social media, allowing for one to be constantly judged by others, negatively or positively. Sometimes this can also be sexually, allowing for Sexual-Objectification to be thrown into this theoretical mix. Combined the pressures can allow for negative impacts to arise such as mental health issues, eating disorders and and self-perception issues, with one potentially viewing themselves from a third person perspective, opposed to a first person perspective, tainting their thoughts and therefore actions. This aim to change our bodies due to judgements, perceptions and objectification can alter the way we see ourselves hugely, with ’empirical’ studies showing that “women experience a discrepancy between their actual body and their ideal body” (Fallon & Rozin, 1984).

Examples of this theory being applied and analysed further can be seen in my recent research both in regards to Western Culture and Japanese Cultures, as well as in regards to practical projects, photography used, interviews/documentaries/social media posts and my 2nd Professional Context Presentation.

Objectification Theory:

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Self-Objectification Theory:

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Sources:
Fredrickson, B & Roberts, T (1998). Objectification Theory. Psychology of Women, 22: Printed in the United States of America. 173-176.
Noll, S & Fredrickson, B (1998). Objectification Theory. Psychology of Women, 22: Printed in the United States of America. 626-627

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Self-Surveying Gaze Theory

This is working towards objective 1.

After researching and analysing the Male Gaze theory in relation to my current practice and working research question, I came across the thesis of Klein, K (2013), and came across the “Self-Surveying Gaze Theory” which I wanted to explore and understand further in order to talk about this confidently in my 2nd Professional Context presentation. I found this extract from a book written by Shields and Heinecken (2002) in regards to this theory, which I found particularly interesting. I came across this book via quotes used in Klein, K (2013) thesis’.

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I took from the above extract that the Self-Surveying Gaze acts as counterpart and reaction to the Male Gaze, allowing for at times, one to become overly aware and critical of one’s gaze, going to extremes of fitness or diet for example to negate this into a visualised and socio-culturally accepted ideal, in turn causing mental health issues, negative self-esteem and a distorted sense of one’s self-perception and subsequent self-gaze. I also feel that this is resonant with Lacan’s Mirror Stage theory, allowing for one’s ‘gaze’ to embody their ego shapes through their self-surveying and surveillanced lifestyles and outlook in order to achieve an unrealistic, and in many case an unmaintainable ideal. I feel more now than ever, the Self-surveying Gaze is impacting women, and men alike in many cases more than ever, due to the use of social media, magazines and advertising for example.

It is evident that a range of external factors influence one’s self-perception, however I found that this theory showed how these can become internalised, allowing for one’s self-perception to be self-derived yet from the view of an outsider, due to accepting said external triggers such as advertising, celebrities and bloggers, for example, as well as the opposite sex as previously discussed in relation to theories such as the Male Gaze and Sexual-Objectification. This particular theory has been explored in further depth in a previous post for example, regarding Terry Richardson’s Photography and his ‘subjects’, i.e the ‘icon’ Kylie Jenner whom has had a pivotal role to my experimental works so far being an anchor point for a range of concise relevant subjects.

Source:
Shields, V & Heinecken, D (2002). Measuring Up: How Advertising Affects Self-Image. USA: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 106.

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Article: “Social Media May Lead Women To Self-Objectify Their Own Body”

Below shows extracts taken from the article, “Social Media May Lead Women To Self-Objectify Their Own Body” which I feel are extremely relevant and resonant to my current practice, and research question, whilst also being inline with my Social Media Wellbeing Campaign in regards to how this growing form of immediate interaction with the fashion and beauty industries is affecting our self-perception and ideals of body image.

I found that not only did this resonate with my current research and practice, but also backed up my working research question in regards to evidencing that social media and manipulated images, for example, are one of the reasons why our self-perceptions are distorted overtime leading to negative and comparative behaviours, as well as a range of mental illnesses.

This particular quote really stood out to me in relation to the Self-Surveying Gaze theory as noted by Fredrickon and Roberts (2008) which I have also just been researching in relation to my research question and practice; “When a person  compares their own inner or self image to an image  that has been filtered on social media it can pose the threat  to self objectification and self absorption. When self comparisons take place that person looks at themselves as the spectator or observer.” ( Slater and Tiggemann (2015)  I found this extremely resonant due to the associated within self-comparisons (and the self-gaze) allowing for one to almost become the observer through their eyes therefore acting in anticipation or of expectation of pre-meditated ideals.

I was also taken by the amount of time on average it is said most women spend on Facebook a day – 2 hours. This may not necessarily be at once, however is still a considerable amount of time a day on one social media platform/app alone, therefore disregarding Instagram and Twitter for example from this figure, showing how much time can be spent online via a phone, tablet, computer or even a smart TV. For me, this evidences how our self-perceptions can be altered sub-consciously through continuous streams of edited, manipulated and curated media.

Sage Journal, “Psychology of Women Quarterly”, Psychologist: Jasmine Fardouly:

“Given the large number of images posted to Facebook (currently over 250 billion images; Facebook, 2013), as well as the appearance-related comments they often receive from others, Facebook may well be considered an appearance-focused media type.”

“Alone women spend an average of 2 hours a day on Facebook.”

“Researchers  Slater and Tiggemann (2015) found that the amount of time spent on social networks was associated with greater self-objectification. Women have a long history of being objectified in the media from television, music videos, and print magazines, why would the objectification just stop at these mediums and not social media? And why are women self objectifying themselves? Some can argue  low self esteem, vanity, or insecurities. Women have been known to compare themselves to other women, whether short, skinny, tall, plus size, short hair or long hair. It’s just something women do—that is—label themselves in comparison to others. When a person  compares their own inner or self image to an image  that has been filtered on social media it can pose the threat  to self objectification and self absorption. When self comparisons take place that person looks at themselves as the spectator or observer.”

“Self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts, also contributing to self-objectification.””

Original Sources:

Author  Rick Nauert PhD, Young Women Compare Themselves on Social Media”

Author Rebecca Adams The Huffington Post “How Facebook Stalking Could Lead Women To Objectify Their Own Bodies”

Fardouly, J., Diedrichs, P.C., Vartanian, L.R., Halliwell, E. (2015). ‘The Mediating Role of Appearance Comparisons in the Relationship Between Media Usage and Self-Objectification in Young Women’, Psychology of Women Quarterly, Sage Journal , p 34 doi: 10.1177/036168431558184

Article Source:
Inside The Girls Room. (2015). Social Media May Lead Women to Objectify Their Own Body. Available: https://insidethegirlsroom.com/2015/04/22/social-media-may-lead-women-to-objectify-their-own-body/. Last accessed 13th November 2016.

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“Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image” (2013) Theses by Klein, K/’Self-Gaze’, ‘Gratification’ and ‘Self-Objectification’ Theories

This is working towards objective 1.

I came across Klein, K (2013) thesis titled, “Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image” whilst researching various theories in relation to my working research question and current practice, and happened to be pleasantly surprised by such findings. The thesis covered a specific part of my research question, body image, social media and self perception. I feel my research has led me naturally to focus more on social media than printed publications due to the natural direction of the industries and the chosen platforms of use are becoming more digital overtime due to the use of apps for example, and feel the extracts taken from said thesis summarise theories of the Male Gaze, The Self-Surveying Gaze and Objectification in context, whilst also re-enforcing why social media in this instance can affect our self-perception and body image issues.

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  • Negative mind sets in relation to body image can encourages women to engage in ‘disordered eating’ habits and therefore derive subsequent mental health issues.
  • Poor body image and dissatisfaction are the “best known contributors” eating disorders and disordered eating habits.
  • Negative body image encourages negative and “obsessive behaviours” which are associated with ideals represented in the media in an attempt to fit in. This relates back to Tafjel and Turners’s (1979) Social Identity theory and the idea of in-group and out-group comparative behaviours.

 

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  • Body dissatisfaction is the “experience of negative thoughts and esteem about one’s body” (Dittmar 1) [judging] their body dissatisfaction on “the difference between an ideal body shape/size and perceived own body/shape” (Rumsey 30).

 

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  • As previously noted above, dissatisfaction can be associated with Tafjel and Turners’s (1979) Social Identity theory.
  • Negative feelings towards one’s self-perception is seen as normal across society especially in “young women” whom at the same time may be shaping or forming their identities (Rumsey 455).

 

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  • The “media helps to shape beauty ideals by showing certain body sizes [as…] beautiful and desirable” (Rumsey 217) insinuating that the media is responsible for choosing who and what is seen as the ‘ideal’, shaping and creating unattainable and unmaintainable aspirations for women.

 

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  • The ‘male gaze theory’ allows for women to be seen as objects of “the heterosexual man’s eye (Shields 74)” claiming that it is this awareness which allows for women to adopt different perspectives to see themselves through the eye of the third person, viewing themselves in this way opposed to how they actually see themselves, judging other women in the same vein also – through a male eye. By doing so one is put under constant pressure feeling the “gaze” consciously.

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  • The various representations of the ‘ideal’ which the media promotes can be said to confuse one’s self-perception and the understanding of what the ‘ideal’ is, and therefore what beauty is. This confusion and internalisation can lead to the “self-surveying gaze” which can overwhelm one and therefore will be no longer able to recognise her true perception opposed to her perceived self-perception. This can lead to eating disorders, disordered eating and issues with confidence and self-esteem for example.
  • Social media is said to have the same effects on ones self-perception as the male gaze, due to an internalisation of an ‘ideal image’.
  • Social media, networking and photo sharing can be said to have links with body dissatisfaction, disordered eating and mental illnesses.

 

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The above reflects and supports the comments quoted by Klein, K (2013) as Rumsey in a previous extract .

  • The “media helps to shape beauty ideals by showing certain body sizes [as…] beautiful and desirable” (Rumsey 217) insinuating that the media is responsible for choosing who and what is seen as the ‘ideal’, shaping and creating unattainable and unmaintainable aspirations for women.

 

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  • Ideals have changed overtime due to changing media representations of the ideal woman and shape reflected through magazines, advertising and campaigns, for example.
  • The changing eras can also change ones self-perception with Playboy models from the 80s loving their physiques, to now in 2016 disliking how they looked at the time due to societies altered perceptions of what is ‘perfect’ and what is the ‘ideal’ as this is what they were perceived as at the time of their original modelling success, not only by themselves but by others also.
  • This suggests that culture and social changes over time also can affect our own perceptions and opinions.

 

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  • Shocking facts regarding social media and user activity. For example, it is noted above by ‘Always Connected’ that 90% of 18 to 24 year olds will check messages/notifications on their phones within the first 15 minutes of being awake in the morning.

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  • Photo sharing platforms and photo-led applications allow for users to critique themselves, and the more these platforms/apps are used the more critiquing and self-evaluating may take place, altering ones self-perception due to internalising of a pre-determined ideal.
  • Photos posts on Facebook are 104% more likely to gain interaction than an “average comment post (Wishpond)”

 

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  • 575 photos are ‘liked per second (Wishpond) per day on Instagram alone.
  • 7.3m daily active users (Wishpond) on Instagram alone.
  • 81 comments are made a second (Wishpond) on Instagram alone.

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  • Klein, K (2013) notes that “social media makes social comparisons even more competitive” due to having likes, comments and followers to gage their self-worth and beauty from, in some cases establishing their level of confidence and self-esteem. The higher the number, the better ones self-perception is. The lower the number, the lower the self-esteem.
  • Hong  (340) notes that “perceptions are not shaped exclusively by what profile users disclose about themselves [but also…] based on others’ comments]”, being titled the “warranting principle … judgement from other-generated information is more influential than judgement from self-generated material” stating the same principle as the self-perception theory whereby we value and judge our self-worth and perceptions based on others’ opinions of ourselves opposed to our own thoughts, due to third person perspectives instilled through socio-cultural influences and expectations (Bem 1972).

 

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  • Objectification Theory was coined by Frederickson and Roberts in 1997.
  • This quote, “objectification functions to socialise girls and women to treat themselves as objects to be evaluated based upon appearance” (Roberts and Gettman 17-18) I believe summarises how objectification can damage ones self-perceptions due to being moulded to look a certain way in order to fit in with a certain pre-determined ideal.
  • Objectification of women is prevalent in mass media and can impact them subconsciously allowing for internalisation, evaluation and change.
  • Women are told and taught from a young age that in society one is judged based on appearance often known to reflect class or status for example, reflected in the modern day through uniform or designer clothing for instance. Again this heavily relates back to Tafjel and Turner’s 1979 theory of Social Identity, whilst also resonating with Freud and Lacan’s ‘Mirror Stage’ theory noting that from 18 months one becomes aware of their ‘image’ and subsequent ego.

 

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  • A model by Frederickson, 1997, representing the Objectification theory showcasing how objectification and observation can lead to Self-Objectification and therefore opens up for psychological issues and health risks such as shame, depression and disordered eating. This evidences that being judged on appearance through objectifying ourselves can lead to mental health issues and de-sensitivity from what is real and not real in regard to their own body image and identity. I feel this is often the case with celebrities and bloggers in the media for example whom have been branded with such titles before, however it can be argued that they choose to objectify themselves at first, allowing for doors to be opened for the internalisation of this curated image and received perceptions boosting self-esteem.

 

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  • As touched on above, exposure and Objectification can lead to Self-Objectification due to the “objectifying gaze (Frederickson and Roberts, 176)”. I found the 3 ways noted above by Frederickson and Roberts, in which external gazes such as social media or magazine campaigns for example can cause an internal influence to be extremely interesting and translatable to both my research and my current practice in regards to the message being shared on how these methods and interactions with social media can cause harm, and also to raise awareness on how brands and icons influence us using such noted methods.

 

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  • Created and acknowledged third-person perspectives can affect negative behaviour and body dissatisfaction due to “appearance [becoming of] central import[ance] to self-concept” (Rumsey 100). This can lead to obsessive behaviours and potentially subsequent disordered eating for example.

 

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  • Raacke argues that it is how we use media and social media opposed to the medium being the issue at hand, therefore implying the responsibility of such issues lies with the user and the brand for example. This is noted as the “Gratification Theory”.
  • Hesse-Buber (“The Mass Marketing” 216) argues that “[individuals] choose to expose themselves to the messages being conveyed through the media and how they act upon their chosen interpretations” implying that it again is the user, or brand for example responsible for the messages they convey and therefore the perceptions associated, expected and created.
  • Klein, K (2013) notes that, “[Gratification theory] does not assume a passive audience” but instead is “mediated by women’s sense of their own body image … if they feel good about their bodies, they may not be impacted as much by the thinness message” (Hesse-Buber “The Mass Marketing” 216) implying that it is ultimately the will and understanding of the audience and their interpretation of the visual for instance, opposed to the direct message from the originator. If one is strong willed enough and aware perhaps this exposure and attempted subconscious internalisation will not take effect, however for some objectification and self-objectification can take over unknowingly forcing change and comparative, competitive behaviours and intern gratify themselves and their audiences pre-set expectations.

 

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  • Women often seek to view images which will cause negative emotions and behaviours if one is already subject to internalising an external ideal (Klein, K, 2013).
  • Klein, K (2013) stated in relation to objectification and self-objectification theory that “if a woman is not satisfied with her body, she will typically internalise the thin ideal, compare it to her own body, and then try to change herself as a result of increased negative body image” showcasing how altering perceptions arise and can damage mental health and physical health also through bodily changes to reach such ‘ideal’.

 

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  • Those whom already have low self-esteem or body image confidence issues for example are most likely to be impacted negatively by social comparisons whether be in person, via social media or via magazines for example. (Hesse-Buber, “The Mass Marketing” 217″)

Source:
Klein, K. (2013). Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image. Available: http://scholarship.claremont.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1749&context=cmc_theses. Last accessed 12th November 2016.

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