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:










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

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Professional Context 2: Reflection and Evaluation

This module has allowed for 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 challenging and have utilised different research methods and methodologies in order to achieve a bound dissertation for Professional Context 2, collating findings and analysis to date whilst answering my working research question.  In addition this module has allowed me to make critical judgements in order to meet the learning objectives, which can be found below.

Learning Outcomes:



Research discussed in the evaluation/reflection for Research Methods 2 has allowed for the noted research methods and methodologies to be applied to this module in order to produce an analytical, critical and theoretical body of work to be produced in the form of a written, academic dissertation. I have found this process enjoyable and challenging and have found that the management of time has been crucial whilst also making critical judgements and decisions in order to keep within the noted word count. Any feedback given by my tutor has also been accounted for, researched into and implemented where necessary, which I feel has strengthened the outcome of the study.

I feel using self-directed research throughout has been of major benefit to this study and dissertation, allowing critical arguments and perspectives to be related back to modern day, whilst utilising various literatures looked at over the past 2 semesters. Overall, I found that working through the essay systematically and planning ahead has enabled me to produce a body of work which I am very proud of and feel embodies much of the research collated today (both primary, secondary, qualitative and quantitative), whilst also embarking upon new research during the writing process where necessary.

I feel that given a larger word count, as my final draft approached 11000 words, that I could of included more detail at times in certain areas, however feel that the editing process allowed me to refine the body of the text to be concise and to the point, which I feel has also helped with my research journal/blog, taking into account feedback from Semester 1.

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2 – Method of Practice

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

2.1. Methodology

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

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

2.2. Structured and Semi Structured Interviews

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

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

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

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

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

Interview themes included:

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

Interview participants included: CHECK ORDER AND APPENDIX NUMBERS

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

2.3. Anonymous Participant Questionnaire

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

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

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

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

2.4. Visual

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

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

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

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

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

2.5. Object Based Research

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

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

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

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

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Conversation/Beauty Shopping with Nicole T (Beauty Blogger)

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

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

This is also working towards the following objectives:

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

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

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

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


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Refined Objectives for Semester 2

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

  1. To derive a National or International Policy for use within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, based on collated research, interviews and experiences throughout this project.

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

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

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

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

Objectives and goals:

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

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

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


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


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


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



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Vogue Japan Interview: Mind-Map

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

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

This is also working towards the following objectives:

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

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

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

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

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


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