Objectives: Reflections and Evaluations

At the start of the semester I set myself several revised objectives to work towards in resolving my working research topic.

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)

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

I aimed to speak with both Vogue UK and Vogue Japan, and aimed to carry out questionnaire’s or interviews with at least 10 females from both the UK and Japan, in order to gain quantifiable data. I have spoke with Vogue Japan in regards to obtaining quantifiable data in regards to obecjtive 1.B, whilst on my International research trip to Tokyo, however was unable to secure a meeting/interview with Vogue UK. I do not feel that this has hindered my research progress as the information gained through speaking with Editors at Vogue Japan answered some of the questions which I would of posed to UK Editors. I do feel though that without speaking to Vogue Japan this would of hindered cross-cultural research, and in retrospect was most beneficial to travel to Japan to have such candid and honest conversations with Vogue. I feel this has tremendously helped with my research working towards resolving my research topic/question.

In relation to the above objective I feel as though I have researched heavily into self-perceptions and social media and feel that travelling to Japan has allowed me to spend more time researching magazines in as much depth, especially cross-culturally. Even though fashion and beauty industries are becoming more digital, social media has been a more current point of research in a Western context, whilst magazines have been more of a focus cross-culturally with social media not being as ‘big’ in Eastern cultures in comparison.

I contacted 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 did not hear back from most however again do not feel this has hindered research as contingency plans were put in place in order to still collate research as required. In regard to objective 1.A. I spoke with Toni Hollowood an MA student at CSM studying a similar subject matter, and found this to be of great benefit to gain similar perspectives to that of my own, whilst also pushing me in further directions of research which helped with objective 1.B.

I planned 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 response to this, an anonymous questionnaire was written and shared by myself, contacts in Tokyo and via Leeds College of Art in order to gain different perspectives working toward both Objective 1.A and 1.B. I opened up the questionnaire to male participants also in order to gain a different perspective and in sight of the research topic at hand.

In addition, whilst in Japan I spoke with a beauty blogger working towards Objective 1.B. I have not spoken with bloggers in the UK or USA as feel this was achieved in Semester 1, allowing for comparative data to be collated.

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 relation to Objective 1.A. whilst also interviewing two models based in the UK, working again toward Objective 1.A. In addition, interviews were carried out at ASOS, understanding perspectives from an International brand and e-commerce point of view, working toward both Objective 1.A and 1.B.

In regard to objective 1.A. research trips to both London (7th/8th Jan 2017) and Tokyo (16th-23rd Jan 2017) were carried out in order to gain comparable and measurable visual data and field-research. Methodologies included 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 allowed 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. Store managers at Burberry were spoken to in London, whilst also looking at visuals, look books and AD Campaigns. A similar approach was carried out in Japan, whilst attending relevant exhibitions to strengthen research and support interview/research findings, and looking at magazines/products available and packaging in comparison to that of the UK beauty and fashion industries. In addition, secondary research was used to inform my primary field-research, i.e. looking at recent technologies such as the Shiseido Makeup Mirror, which were analysed and looked at whilst in Tokyo. In Tokyo, as planned and discussed in Semester 1, I visited the Flagship Shiseido store in order to speak with staff about such advances and their customers feedback, whilst also finding out that such technologies are not available in the UK, and only are used in they Flagship store. A full list of measurable methodologies can be found here; 

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

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

Semester 1: 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.

Semester 2: In regard to the above, this semester I met with ASOS and two models as noted, in order to gain information on my research topic and the use of policies aiming to positively tackle issues surrounding self-perception and body image in the beauty and fashion industries. This was working toward objective 2 and 3. This was also working toward objective 5 however this objective has been omitted since undertaking research and realising that an international policy is not feasible and can not be achieved. In addition to this, I spoke with Vogue in Japan regarding their own policy; The Health Initiative, which also is working toward objective 1.A and 1.B. These topics and findings have since been discussed in my dissertation in depth.

3. To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.

Working toward this objective, I have carried out meetings and interviews with a range of participants as discussed above, including two models working in industry to gain a different perspective of research working towards objective 2 and 3, and a female body builder to also gain a different perspective. I also met with MA student Toni Hollowood from CSM, employees at ASOS and Vogue Japan in order to gain different insights on my research topic and the subjects covered within this. In addition, I also met with a beauty blogger in Japan. Furthermore, an anonymous questionnaire was created, receiving 25 responses from a range of male and female participants. All of the above is also working toward objectives, 1.A, 1.B and 2, as well as Objective 3. By speaking with a range of people with a range of perspectives, i.e. consumer and industry insight, I was able to gain a range of pragmatic an interpretivist data for comparative, cross-cultural analysis.

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

I had planned 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, and since other priorities had taken over allowing for this to unfortunately take a back seat. This is due to how much research was undertaken in Semester 2, accounting for travelling time and analysis time also.

During this semester, one practical project was undertaken, a sourcebook of beauty trends, looking cross-culturally at two contrasting cultures, looking at socio-cultural norms, expectations and ‘ideals’. This was derived mainly from my International research trip to Japan and my findings, which I found extreme in regard to Western culture and trends. Each spread reflects a trend with supporting blurb that has been written to explore and explain the trend whilst touching on self-perception issues, theory and ‘ideals’, relating back to my research and dissertation. However, I plan to look at this much more in regard to theory and heavy analysis Semester 3, when producing my independent magazine. The sourcebook was originally going to be a mini-magazine or zine, testing the target audience for the ‘final’ version in Semester 3, however, I realised whilst designing that this book should be more of a sourcebook of trends to highlight to those, male or female, in the industry the contrasting beauty trends and cultures, opposed to producing a magazine twice.

In Semester 3, I aim on producing an independent magazine which collates the research and interviews carried out in both the UK and Japan, using interviews as articles as the main anchor point of the magazine. I feel as though I have had to carry out all of the research done to date in order to reach this point of deciding how to go about the practical work for both Semester 2 and 3, yet feel that research has informed the direction of my practice and the practical work itself. I also plan on collaborating with photographers, interview participants and the beauty blogger I met in Japan in Semester 3 in order to produce the magazine.

Feedback from various designer friends, whom gave advice and feedback the copywriting and typesetting in particular, especially in relation to the justification of text, widows and alignment in order to perfect the editorial aspects of the book. Feedback on practical work in Semester 2 was given from various designer friends, whom gave advice and feedback the copywriting and typesetting in particular, especially in relation to the justification of text, widows and alignment in order to perfect the editorial aspects of the book. I found this particularly useful to the perfection of the book, whilst also listening to the advice of printing services whilst printing and binding the book. In addition, spreads, cover art and development posts, were shared on my Instagram account to test reception from a relevant beauty and fashion related target audience; and positive feedback was received and reassured themes/aesthetics. Please see screenshots below:

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Source: https://www.instagram.com/daniellemuntyandesign/

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Research Methods 2: Reflection and Evaluation

This module has allowed for various objectives to be worked towards and learning objectives to be met, whilst working towards objectives 1, 2, 3 and 4 in relation to my research topic. I have found this module really enjoyable, and have utilised different research methods and methodologies in order to achieve a practical outcome for Practice 1 and dissertation for Professional Context 2 also.  In addition this module has allowed me to make critical judgements and discussions in order to meet the learning objectives, which can be found below.

Learning Outcomes:

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Objectives and goals:

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

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

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

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

3. To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.

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

This module has allowed for various objectives to be worked towards and learning objectives to be met, whilst working towards my objectives in relation to my research topic.

This module has allowed for me to research into:

  • Topics within the Professional Context module
  • Topics/processes related with Practice and Professional Development
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • Technological Advances
  • Industry Contacts – New and Existing
  • Contextual Information
  • Quantitive and Qualitative Data
  • Cross-Cultural/Cultural Perspectives

To achieve the above, the following research methods have been used, utilising pragmatic, and interpretivist research philosophies in order to gain both qualitative and quantitative data:

  • Online Sources; particularly for sourcing new contacts/links, policies related to practice/statistics, facts, etc
  • Instagram and Social Media, i.e. YouTube, Facebook for Videos, Photos and Feedback led Research
  • Freelance Clients/Designer friends/contacts for Feedback led Research
  • Contacting existing Contacts both Nationally and Internationally
  • Phonecalls and Emails
  • Practice based Researched: Print (Graphic Design, Collage, Digital Collage, Layout, Book Binding and Printing)
  • Questionnaire’s, whilst utilising International Contacts in Japan, LCA Inter-College Connections and the Ethics Policy
  • Critical-design (used throughout exploratory practical work, discussed in separate post)
  • Magazines
  • Trips to London and Japan
  • Interviews and Meetings with Professionals regarding policies, design work and organisational views on research topic
  • Documentaries
  • Field-research (technologies, visual, publications, copywriting, photography, etc) on both a National and International basis (London and Tokyo)

This module I have met up and interviewed with those contacted in order to gain the best research to work towards answering my research question and meeting my objectives/goals, in both the UK and Japan, such as speaking with Vogue Japan, ASOS and Tam Dexter for example, (objectives 1.A, 1.B, 2 and 3) and both British and Japanese participants of my anonymous participant questionnaire (25 participants in total) (objective 1.A, 1.B, 3).

I have found researching into key theoretical perspectives to be key to working towards my goals and objectives, and have found that my practice informs my research, and in turn, my research also informs my practice (see Practice 1 Reflection/Evaluation post). In addition to the theories researched in Semester 1, I have also found that further research has been needed into other tightly-related theories in order to strengthen/critique points in my dissertation and emphasise triangulation.

Furthermore, discussion of different perspectives as of that of Brittany Rhodes, and male perspectives as found in my anonymous research questionnaire, and literary/article-led research has also strengthen research and theoretical perspectives,  (objectives 1 and 3), whilst strengthening my practical work; (objective 4). This as noted, has allowed for a different perspectives to be considered in regard to my research question, and have allowed me for the reflect on both my practice and current research to date, whilst also informing a new sub-section of my dissertation which otherwise would not of been included.

In order to carry out the above, the LCA ethics policy has been of most importance whilst deigning and planning my research studies, as well as writing a consent form and information sheet to be distributed to participants in due course. These were sent to those who are being interviewed in advance for forward planning, and have undergone ethical checks by both my tutor and the course leader. This way of working/research is something which I have got used to doing and have found this good practice, and has also enabled my participants to fully understand the project, their role, pros, cons and details on data use, confidentiality and assessment for example. In regard to the online anonymous participant questionnaire, similar ethical checks were also undertaken by the college in order to check suitability before being shared with the Fashion courses in the college, and before being sent out/distributed via social media platforms (objective 1.A, 1.B and 3).

In addition to this, two field-research trips to both London and Tokyo were undertaken in January in order to gain different perspectives, insights and both comparable and quantifiable data, in aim of working towards objectives 1 – 4 specifically. Evidence of this can be found throughout my blog in regards to planning, itineraries and findings. I found that by planning ahead for such trips and planning both research and practical work in advance, time management this semester was better utilised, whilst taking into account the feedback given last semester in regard to my approach to documenting my findings in a more concise manner.

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VICE Documentary: How Narcissists Took Over the World

I came across the below documentary whilst on the Vice website, highlighting how self-perception and narcissism is a major, current issue amongst social media users. Even though I have completed my dissertation, I found that this is a subject which I wrote about heavily in relation to my research question, believe that this mini-documentary by Vice would be great information to take forwards into Semester 3/Practice 2, in regard to my research-based practical proposal of an independent beauty/fashion magazine exploring cross-cultural trends and issues and its affects on ones self-perception.

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Article: Social Media has Created a Generation of Self-obsessed Narcissists

I came across the below article via Facebook, and have noticed more and more similar articles being shared and re-shared, highlighting how self-perception is a major, current issue amongst social media users, whilst more and more people are becoming aware. Even though I have completed my dissertation, I found that this would be great information to take forwards into Semester 3/Practice 2, in regard to my research-based practical proposal of an independent beauty/fashion magazine exploring cross-cultural trends and issues.

“Listing all the ways that it has altered our world is a fool’s errand, as is tracing all of its side-effects, but there is an argument that I will make: it has turned an entire generation into vapid narcissists.

From deceptive selfie angles that make average-looking people appear attractive, to curating your Facebook feed so it looks like you’re having more fun than you actually are, social media has taken neoliberalism’s self-centered mantra and pumped it full of cocaine-laced steroids.

All social media platforms are comprised of a mass of individuals competing against each other for followers, likes, retweets, favorites, and whichever other show of approval exists out there rather than any sort of collective goal.

Sure, this isn’t its only purpose, and plenty of benign interaction occurs without any sort of agenda, but there are masses upon masses of people who utilize it as a means of projecting an idealized version of themselves out into the world – an avatar of the person that they wish they were, rather than who they are in reality.

It’s logical that such an extreme focus on the self has a tendency to spill over into self-obsession, but this goes far beyond people taking too many photos of themselves and treating every action as a hashtagging opportunity. Every life event, however irrelevant to their social media audience, becomes a source of self-promoting content.

I doubt that anyone would be able to explain why they do it, because it’s likely a reflexive behavior: they’ve learned that sharing gets them validation, which feels good, so they continue to share. Every like and retweet gives the brain a small rush of dopamine comparable to a tiny hit of coke.

This is why people pathetically attach #tagsforlikes #likeforlikes and #likes4likes to their Instagram photos. The yearning for validation is so pronounced that it has spawned an entire exchange economy where people pimp themselves out to the world, offering to repay insincere engagement with equally insincere engagement. The sentiment doesn’t matter as long as that little ego-affirming notification bubble pops up on their screens.”

Source: http://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/03/14/social-media-narcissism/?utm_campaign=Highsnobiety+Post&utm_source=facebook

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Article: Where Super Thin Is Still In: Attitudes to Body Image in Japan

I came across the below article via a friend in Tokyo, whom sent me a link. Even though I have completed my dissertation, I found that this would be great information to take forwards into Semester 3/Practice 2, in regard to my research-based practical proposal of an independent beauty/fashion magazine exploring cross-cultural trends and issues.

“According to the data from the Health Ministry’s annual national surveys on health and nutrition, underweight Japanese women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have been increasing.

According to the data from the Health Ministry’s annual national surveys on health and nutrition, underweight Japanese women in their 20s, 30s and 40s have been increasing.

Using Body Mass Index (BMI) as a gauge, the number of Japanese women in their 20s who are too thin (BMI under 18.5), far exceeds those that fall into the overweight range (BMI over 25).

Compared to the many Western countries coping with rising obesity levels, this might seem like an enviable position, and as a nation, Japanese people naturally tend to be on the slender side. However, those who maintain their weight at unnaturally low levels could face health risks down the line.

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These trends are probably not surprising when the media promotes a culture populated with kawaii idols with proportions that look more like prepubescent children than adult women. As for muscles—forget it!

Speaking of the media, the terms pocchari girl or marshmallow girl made a splash a few years back, with the advent of La Farfa, Japan’s first fashion magazine for “chubby girls”. These curvy models, however, would still fall at the small end of the fashion sizing range in Western countries.

As for women who are definitely overweight by anybody’s standards, they are generally relegated to the role of comic buffoons by the media, and are the frequent target of teasing on TV variety shows.”

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Source: https://blog.gaijinpot.com/attitudes-to-body-image-japan/

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Ditch the Label: Are You Living an Insta Lie? Social Media VS Reality

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EFHbruKEmw
Last Accessed: 7th March 2017

If you’re guilty of living an Insta Lie or know somebody that is, then this video is most certainly for you. We’re partnering up with boohoo.com to call out some of the funniest and most common Insta Lie’s posted on social media.
Insta Lie (verb): an intentionally false representation of real life on social media. Examples include:

1.) Tagging an edited and made-up selfie with #IWokeUpLikeThis;
2.) Taking a million selfies before deciding on just one to post as #Effortless;
3.) Going all the way to Starbucks, buying a coffee and opening up your Macbook – taking a photo of your #WorkSpace, closing your Macbook and then going back home;
4.) Using filters to edit your travel photos – making them literally look #Unreal.

I came across this video via Facebook yesterday and found this quite powerful in regard to my research topic. I feel that this video summarises different aspects of Instagram and how it is so easy to ‘edit’ or ‘filter’ images in order to affect how one is perceived and therefore perceptions of others, and in turn how this can be mentally quite damaging to viewers and followers. I feel the video has been really well done, and feel that by teaming up with Boohoo, Ditch the Label have created a really great platform for those interested in Fashion to watch this video and be aware of such issues. I feel it really stimulates and provokes thought, conversation and debate and as of today has been viewed in the region of 9m times.

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Survey Results: Summary of Questions and Answers

Below shows the questions and answers of the anonymous research questionnaire which was created and shared via myself, contacts in Tokyo, Japan and via Leeds College of Art in order to gain a wide range of responses from 18-24 year olds regarding my research topic. I chose to open this questionnaire to male participants also to gain a different perspective which can be, and has been analysed in my dissertation.

All respondents have been made anonymous on the summary below, implying with the ethics policy at LCA, whilst ensuring good and professional practice.

Survey Results Summary by DanielleMuntyan on Scribd

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Superdrug: Collagen and Tanning Supplements

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Above shows a series of images taken in Superdrug. I noticed these products whilst browsing and felt that these were quite unusual to be seen in the UK. I have not seen any Collagen based products in the UK, only in Japan, and found it quite surprising that such products can now be bought here too, even if on a smaller scale. The packaging still denotes, anti-aging and younger skin benefits, the same as in Japan. I am unsure whether Superdrug are catering for an Eastern audience here, being in a multi-cultural city, or whether Western trends and culture will also be pushing this too soon. Other copywriting I found that was interesting is shown on the packaging above, “helps maintain healthy/radiant/beautiful” skin, alluding again to the idea that with these products you can be and can maintain beauty and youth for longer. I find that such products denote such copywriting for marketing strategies unknowingly giving the end-user/consumer an altered perception or idea of ‘what is beautiful’.

I also noticed “tanning tablets” which I found a major contrast to that of Japan and the skin-lightening products/tablets/masks/drinks available there to counteract tans, and found this representative of my practical work and the trends discussed throughout my book. I felt that this really highlighted such different trends, and also emphasised the difference in cultures and ideals in regard to skin colour.

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