I came across this article on the Huffington Post, and really felt empowered when reading this and Maria’s perspective on the male-gaze in an era where we are gaze-dependant for our reassurance, social media traits and in magazines and advertising alike. The gaze in present day, seems to dominate every aspect of our life and can establish how we feel about ourselves based on how we are perceived by those giving the ‘gaze’, whether it be male, OR female, especially since the rise of social media outlets. This is somewhat discussed in Maria’s article, and has inspired me to write my own article regarding this for my FMP magazine.
The following article has been taken from Huffington Post, and can be found here.
Growing up, I attended an all-girls school. Although I hated it for depriving me of interaction with boys at a time when fascination with the opposite sex peaks, in retrospect I’m thankful that it shielded me from the “male gaze.” Arguably, sometimes the female gaze upon females is much worse, but at least there’s a sense of solidarity substituted for the entitlement and objectification experienced with the male gaze, the dominant gaze, perpetuated in much of media and culture. Invisibly determining the way we women relate to ourselves and establish our worth, it’s a gaze so omnipresent we often forget that it’s even there.
The “male gaze” is a term established by feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in her groundbreaking essay “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema” published in 1975. In it, she states, “in a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.” In other words, the woman is always given meaning by how the male character views her. She exists purely as a spectacle for both the male character and the male viewer, with no meaning within herself.
We see this not only in almost every film, but in porn (the woman is manhandled and up for any type of physical and verbal degradation. She must put on a show for the man) and on TV (many shows are about women who desperately want a boyfriend, a cluster of women competing for the approval of one man, or women competing for validation of their beauty). As a result, women are conditioned to excuse mistreatment. We’re taught to see a shallowness of emotions and questionable morality as “masculine.” We’re taught that men interested in us for the wrong reasons are there for the right reasons. We’re taught we need to be passive in the courting ritual, to ignore our needs, to protect our relationships at all costs, to accept cat calls, to say we’re “claimed” when rejecting a man simply because we’re not interested, otherwise the truth just won’t register.
Magazines and online publications encourage us also to seek approval from men, to be the most agreeable girlfriend (refer to the “cool girl” speech in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for more insight), to give everything up for a man. We aren’t given meaning unless someone wants to be with us and finds us attractive, is the perpetual message invading our consciousness. Although my single sex education did make me value the contributions and strengths of women and served to protect me from the first-hand experience of the male-gaze, it did, unproductively, create a fascination with the male-gaze. I wanted approval because I never knew what it felt like as an impressionable young girl. For a few years I played into what our culture tells us women should be all the while sensing deeply that something was wrong. I’m glad I listened to that instinct, because something is very wrong with how we’re taught to see ourselves, to see other women, and how we allow men to see us. The vulnerability of a young girl is exploited all too often and we need to teach them how to protect themselves.
Social media makes this a time when the visual begins to take prominence over the real. Instead of experiencing our lives from our own vantage points, we now see the world from how others will view and respond to our vantage points. When we are all responsible for creating our own media, we are always visible and therefore, always “seen.” The dominant gaze is more internalized than ever due to the focus on how we are perceived through the images we deliver. Establishing value on social media means accruing more followers and likes which denotes amping up what people like to see. Unfortunately because we are so indoctrinated in the male gaze, we tend to respond favorably to women who operate within it. If you take a look at the most followed women on Instagram, it’s women who have modified their entire bodies and faces who only post photos of taken of themselves, their various body parts up close, and their friends who look eerily similar. It’s not just men who are devoted followers. Their followers include countless women, too, who must look up to them as an ideal.
These “ideal” women don’t “speak,” they are only “seen.” They don’t seem to have hobbies outside of taking selfies and going to exotic locations to take more photos of themselves, showing off their latest shoes, driving expensive cars and going to clubs, yet they get the most approval in the digital world of their existence. We have to think about what these people are perpetuating and what it signifies when we approve of them. I recently had a conversation with a model who told me in her early twenties when she first was signed, she was told to speak as little as possible, to not show personality or tell anyone she was educated. She was to be a face and body, and that was it because anything further would hurt her career. Yet, this is a girl, who like all other models, are setting the beauty standards and expectations for women everywhere. If they are told not to value their intelligence, their personalities, their education, then what is it telling the rest of the girls who learn what is expected from them in society?
When women are reduced to visual pleasure, that’s when rigid expectations of body types and age are created. It’s not about their strength of character, wisdom, intellect, nor a capacity to love. This vulnerability makes it easier to sell unneeded beauty products and treatments. A focus on beauty, on being “seen” “ushers women to a place where men want them, out of the power structure. Capitalism and the patriarchy define beauty for cultural consumption, and plaster images of beauty everywhere to stir up envy and desire,” said Naomi Woolf as quoted by Nancy Etcoff in Survival of the Prettiest. To clarify, I do not think that beauty is bad and that women shouldn’t enhance their beauty for fear of being “viewed”. I think that to the extent women are emphasizing their own beauty as a reflection of the pride they take in themselves and not allowing it to become their dominant focus is a wonderful thing. We just have to separate carefully what it is we want for ourselves, and what it is we want for ourselves because of what men want from us.
Instead of naturally objectifying ourselves because it’s expected, let’s actively work on encouraging contributions, insights, ideas and voices. Let’s encourage independence, one in which we are no longer susceptible to this violating and fragmenting male gaze. We need to put a blindfold on this gaze that traps us. Only in this place will we be able to open our eyes and see ourselves clearer. It won’t matter who is looking at us when our contributions and interests are our own.
I came across this article online following seeing this reported on Sky News on the TV. I found this really relevant to my research to date, research topic and FMP.
The article discusses how Instagram has been classified as the worst app for mental health issues in young people, with Snapchat (another photo based app) coming second. I found this really interesting due to the gazes which are involved with such platforms, and how one can show themselves in a way that embodies how they want to be perceived, only showing parts of their lives which they want to share, and only sharing images which they are happy with when they look how they want to be seen, choosing what is on show to the public for judgements, praise and criticism alike.
1500 people voted from the UK alone, (between 14-24, therefore embodying my chosen target audience for my magazine of 18-24 year olds) stating that it damages their sleep patterns, body image issues, anxieties, depression, loneliness through living in a digital age and a ‘fear of missing’ out through seeing friends live their lives in ways that they may not themselves. This being said though, one can choose what they post, and may choose to curate their feed to ‘look like they have a great life’ when it retrospect they could feel depressed, anxious or lonely themselves.
In addition, and to my surprise, the majority said that positives were self-identity and self-expression, which upon further thought actually does make sense depending on how you perceive and use the app. As there are no constraints it is possible to express yourself through images and relate to similar uses which help with ones identity, however on the flip slide this could also be negative if one is constantly comparing oneself to another, causing social identity issues as discussed by Tajfel and Turner (1986), whereby in-group and out-group comparisons co-exist.
Furthermore, Rose’s “Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful” (2012) book, looks at the relationship between Panopticism as founded by Foucault, and the ideology that people depict scenarios and images through photography which are often seen and recognised as ‘real’ opposed to a set up scenario, just like as discussed above in regard to Instagram and how photos can be interpreted to allow one to feel misled or as though they are missing out on a social occasion for example. This shows one how one can be influenced by imagery from social media, and how this could possibly affect ones self-perception, and the perception of others alike, as well as self-esteem and identity issues. This in turn causing a tutored sense of self, relating back to Shields and Heineken’s ‘Self-Surveying/Internalised Gaze’ theory as discussed heavily in my research during Semester 1, and Tajfel and Turner’s (1986) social identity model as discussed above, and researched in Semester 2.
I feel that these visual platforms are being recognised too late for their flaws, especially since the rise of beauty and fashion bloggers, allowing for many followers and aspiring bloggers to feel inadequate when they do not achieve the same status. In addition, Instagram has very little censoring so images of really thin models for example, can be posted with any caption or hashtags which could potentially be damaging to some depending on how these are perceived.
The following article has been taken from Sky News, and can be found here.
Last accessed: 19th May 2017.
Instagram has been rated the worst social media site for young people’s mental health, according to a survey.
The platform has the most negative impact on users and puts them at risk of suffering loneliness, depression and body image anxiety, the Royal Society for Public Health has warned.
Their words come following a survey of almost 1,500 people in the UK aged 14 to 24 which asked them to score each social media platform on its effect on health and wellbeing.
The respondents were asked to consider issues including access to expert information, emotional support, anxiety, depression, sleep, self-expression, body image, community building and bullying.
Instagram was rated the most negatively, followed by Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and then YouTube.
Instagram was rated badly for seven of the 14 measures: its impact on sleep, body image and fear of missing out, bullying and feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness.
But those surveyed did say there were positives – self-expression, self-identity and emotional support.
YouTube scored badly for its impact on sleep but was ranked well in nine other categories, including awareness and understanding of other people’s health experience, self-expression, loneliness, depression and emotional support.
Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive, of the RSPH, said: “It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.
“As the evidence grows that there may be potential harms from heavy use of social media, and as we upgrade the status of mental health within society, it is important that we have checks and balances in place to make social media less of a wild west when it comes to young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Dr Becky Inkster, honorary research fellow, University of Cambridge, said: “Young people sometimes feel more comfortable talking about personal issues online.
“As health professionals we must make every attempt to understand modern youth culture expressions, lexicons, and terms to better connect with their thoughts and feelings.”
Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, told The Guardian: “I am sure that social media plays a role in unhappiness, but it has as many benefits as it does negatives.
“We need to teach children how to cope with all aspects of social media – good and bad – to prepare them for an increasingly digitised world.
“There is real danger in blaming the medium for the message.”
Instagram’s website says it has more than 600 million active monthly users.
Sky News has approached Instagram for a response.
Rose (2012) Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful, p.107-121.
I came across this article online, and found this absolutely fascinating and infuriating, yet extremely relevant to my practice.
The article discusses how a Western model whom is between the size of UK 4-6, was told she was “too big” to walk the Louis Vuitton catwalk show in Japan. I found this interesting in regard to my research carried out regarding Japan, both in person and in regard to academic reading. Japanese culture within the fashion industries still relies heavily on Western models and design houses to keep their consumer culture running and turning over monies, whilst enforcing an aspirational ideal for the Japanese to look up to; slender figures, long legs and pale skin. I found the model shown below a stereotypical Western female to be projected and used in Japan – blonde hair, slender, pale and with long legs, therefore found it fascinating that she was told she is still ‘too big’, when in reality, she isn’t going to be any smaller without being extremely ill, and be pointed at for possibly having an eating disorder as a result of being forced into being thinner by agencies. Yes, the Japanese women have small, petite figures, but this model has everything that a Japanese woman would aspire to and is typical of whom is featured in Internationalised magazines, i.e. Vogue. It was found during my research in Japan, whilst interviewing Vogue, that European/Western design houses such as Louis Vuitton have to maintain a standard internationally in regard to model-use, advertising, merchandising etc, however this doesn’t change how she could be the right size for the UK for instance but not for Japan. I find this really worrying that in 2017, models are still feeling immense pressures from their agencies and clients to project an unattainable and unmaintainable figure; even for themselves; let alone the audience. And with that, an image and figure which is unhealthy and potentially mentally damaging to self-esteem, body image and perception issues.
The following article has been taken from BBC Newsbeat, and can be found here.
Last accessed: 19th May 2017.
A 20-year-old Danish model claims she was dropped from a Louis Vuitton show because she was “too big” – despite only being size 4-6.
Ulrikke Hoyer says she was told by casting agents to “drink only water for the next 24 hours” before a fitting.
But she says the fitting never happened because she was dropped by the agent.
In an Instagram post Hoyer says she was told she had “a very bloated stomach”, a “bloated face” and was urged to “starve” herself.
“I am glad I’m 20 years old… and not a 15 year old girl, who are new to this and unsure about herself, because I have no doubt that I would then have ended up very sick and scarred,” Hoyer wrote on Instagram.
The show, which was on 14 May, took place in Kyoto in Japan.
Ulrikke Hoyer says that she went for a fitting in Paris a few weeks before the show “and before I even got back into my own clothes they confirmed me to the show”.
She says in a longer Facebook post that she was “happy to know that even though I wasn’t in my skinniest ‘show-shape’ Louis Vuitton would still have me in their show”.
She says that by the time she got to Japan, her waist was smaller than in the first fitting.
But she says it was after she tried on some outfits that she was told to “only drink water for the next 24 hours”.
In her Facebook post she writes: “That same evening Louis Vuitton had arranged a nice dinner and karaoke for all the models.
“I stayed home hungry in bed, because I didn’t want to sit and eat in front of women who had just expressed that I did not need food.
“I woke up at 2am and was extremely hungry. The breakfast started at 6:30am – I had the absolute minimum.
“I was afraid to meet [the casting agent] so my luck she didn’t arrive until 8am, when my plate was taken off the table.
“She said good morning to me and the other girls and then looked at me, then down on my non-existent plate and up at me again.
“She was checking if I had been eating food.”
Ulrikke Hoyer says that her background in playing tennis from a young age means that she has a good understanding of nutrition.
“I also know that the demands and expectations that is given to the high end fashion models in the industry are often completely unattainable and directly damaging to the human body,” she says.
“I cannot accept the ‘normality’ in the behaviour of people like this.
“They find pleasure in power over young girls and will go to the extreme to force an eating disorder on you.”
Louis Vuitton has been contacted by Newsbeat for a comment but hasn’t responded yet.
Below shows an article which I came across online showcasing how ASOS, even though an extremely positive online platform within the fashion industry can still make errors, allowing for public and consumer backlash, which potentially could damage their reputation and what they have worked for and achieved via their social responsibility teams.
In addition, the article gives examples of how this can impact consumers via their ‘tweets’ and comments which have been made, stating how damaging such ‘technical errors’ can be in regard to how they are perceived. A UK size 10 is NOT large; the average dress size in the UK is a size 14, and even that is NOT large. Using XS, S, M and L in general I feel is generalising and can be perceived as hurtful and damaging to body image issues, especially those who are more conscious of their bodies than those who are more accepting.
Even though I love ASOS and what they work for and stand for based on my research and interviews to date in semester 2, I do feel that this was a critical error and will take some work to allow their consumers to trust them again.
The following article has been taken from BBC Newsbeat, and can be found here.
Last accessed: 19th May 2017.
ASOS and Pull & Bear have been criticised on social media for describing a pair of size 10 shorts as “large”.
Twitter user Hollie posted a screenshot of the item.
Since then, many people have left comments including: “No wonder girls think they’re fat when a large is a size 10.”
ASOS has apologised for the listing of the item and has called it a “technical glitch”.
Since sharing the tweet, it’s had more than 2000 likes and has been shared nearly 600 times.
Some also show concern that this type of sizing could promote a negative perception of body image for women.
“I was size 10 once in my life ever and it was when I was anorexic,” says Maeve McQuillan. “Calling it ‘large’ is not good,” she adds.
Pull & Bear is owned by Spanish company Inditex, who also run Zara, Bershka and Mango.
The size guide from the Pull & Bear website matches up sizes XS-XL with European sizes but not UK ones.
It lists a ‘Large’ here as a EU 40, which in UK sizing would be a 14, not a 10.
The online brand Glamorous uses sizes Small, Medium and Large and lists them as a 10, 12 and 14 respectively.
Other stores Topshop, Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo list their shorts by dress size.
ASOS said in a statement: “We’re really sorry for the confusion caused by the technical glitch, which meant certain Pull & Bear sizes weren’t represented properly. This particular style has now been fixed and back online.”
As I am hoping to publish my magazine and hopefully get a few copies stocked locally, nationally and hopefully even internationally, I have began researching into potential stockists, allowing for exposure for my independent magazine.
The Village Bookstore in Leeds is known for stocking independent magazines and books derived around design, fashion and art, and therefore felt this could be a great local outlet for my magazine.
Below shows a range of the Independent ‘Fashion’ magazines which they stock online. They stock more online than in store, however even if my magazine was stocked online I could promote this via Instagram and the magazine website to generate sales and interest, promoting my FMP and professional practice on both a local, national and international scale, where as in store this would only reach a local audience.
(Last Accessed: 20th May 2017)
I also find The Village and their magazines as shown above a great source of aesthetic inspiration in regard to graphic design and cover design.
Following this research, I sent an enquiry email to The Village, which can be seen below. I also plan on speaking to them in person next time I am in Leeds city centre to follow up on my email.
Hi there,I hope that you are well!
I am wanting to enquire about how I would stock a magazine in your store? I am currently completing my FMP at LCA in Fashion Communication and I am designing, writing and producing a magazine which reveals the truths of the Fashion and Beauty Industries, primarily looking at the positives and negatives of these at a time where social media is rife and has the danger to out-do magazine whilst also impacting on the viewers self-perception. My magazine is based on interviews I carried out in the UK and Japan, looking at this cross culturally speaking to the likes of ASOS and Vogue as well as a range of influencers in both countries, as well as featuring satirical advertisements and editorials.
I am hoping to publish my magazine in order to share my findings and educate readers alike based on the current interest in these industries at the minute, and would be really interested in stocking some copies at The Village once they are completed and printed?
I hope you can help with my enquiry!
Many thanks and hope to speak with you soon,
This is working towards objective:
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.
In regard to professional context and career development, I have been published in another design book (now in 6 books), and felt as the work featured (Jade Clark: Barbie) is fashion based that is is a great source of promotion for my graphic design work in this industry on an International scale. The book is Japanese and is published by PIE Books. I have previously gained freelance work from Laurence King and Magma Publications via being spotted in the book Behind Collections by Victionary, and hope that this book achieves similar results.
I am particularly happy with the however as much of my research and practical work has been inspired and led by my research in Japan, I hope to perhaps gain Japanese clients and feel this book could be the perfect outlet to further reach an international audience, and potentially work with Japanese fashion brands.
Last accessed: 20th May 2017
‘In this elegant, exciting project, the fashion pieces that Anderson has chosen to isolate and re-contextualize certainly take on a potency and a power to move that transcends the desire and allure of the runway.’ – Vogue
Image Source: http://www.hepworthwakefield.org/disobedient-bodies/ (Last Accessed: 17th May 2017)
I found this exhibition really interesting as fashion designer Jonathan Anderson, has taken it upon himself to explore the human form in art in relation to fashion and design as two separate but combined entities and fields, noting how the human form itself has been perceived and relayed by different artists and designers across both the 20th and 21st centuries, utilising a series of sculptures curated with a range of garments from a combination of successful designers and fashion houses. I felt that this collaborative approach allowed for different messages and meanings to be interpreted depending on the particular piece one was viewing.
I find that with my current project, it is interesting to think that designers have to account for the way which bodies are put on the runway and how they are perceived through their shape and the shape created by the garments and forms designed for them. With this being said, I also felt that there were underlying elements of gender issues being noted through the pieces in the exhibition, especially looking at the shape of the forms which are on display, both in regard to the famous and well recognised sculptures juxtaposed with garments.
Gender, along with body and body image, is something which I am talking about in my FMP magazine and how rising male stars in the cosmetic and beauty industry have only been recently ‘accepted’, where as in fashion this appears to also be the case, with slow and late transitions. Menswear collections have always been around, but have only taken major precedent on the runways in the past 2 decades, being seen now as an equal and just as lucrative/important territory to work within, promote and to feel passionate about. In addition, ‘male sculptures’ wearing female clothes echoes a political argument of transgender and gender confusion which is now more common and again, accepted than ever before. I felt that this was also shown really well by the complementary photography shown throughout the exhbition by Jamie Hawkesworth which brought these feelings and ideologies to life in a more to the point manner.
I also felt that the name ‘disobedient bodies’ is more relevant than ever in regard to not only my project but current day society and how the media and fashion industries put pressure on one to conform and be, look and act a certain way. The idea of not complying and showcasing a range of ‘bodies’, silhouettes and shapes allows for one to feel more confident and comfortable with their own identities rather than needing to ‘fit in’, and is also quite empowering. I also found that Anderson taking 123 photos of school children wearing the garments shown in the exhibition even more powerful, in the sense gives a critical view and angle proving that size, body and shape can be juxtaposed in new and unseen ways to prove a point of how we reimagine or subvert a body from what is expected into something new, as well as almost stating to expect the unexpected within the worlds of fashion and art.
As I previously noted I have set up an Instagram account for my FMP. Since setting this up, I have made the account a ‘business account’ and have now the title ‘magazine’ below my name, making it more searchable and accessible across local, national and international audiences.
In addition, having a business account allows for ‘insights’ on your posts and demographics to be seen allowing for more targeted posts to be posted in the future, whilst also being able to see which demographics are looking at my posts, including, age, gender and location, allowing to see whether my posts are having national, international and local visibility, whilst also being able to see if my target audience of 18-24 year old females for the magazine is being met.
Below shows how many impressions have been made from the account since it was set up. Impressions means how many times collectively the posts have been seen by Instagram users.
Below also shows which posts are most popular – being seen the most, liked, or commented on the most. This allows me to see which posts are being received best so I can post more of this kind in order to stimulate interest and a gain a larger following for my magazine. I want to do this incase my magazine is ever expanded into a series and is published, therefore having a base of interested readers, whilst also making Instagram users aware of my research and findings, promoting this and promoting my professional context of a graphic designer working within the fashion and beauty industries.
Below shows demographic data on my followers.
Below shows ‘Top Posts’ showing those posted only in the past 7 days. This information shows which posts have had the most views, again this will help with knowing which content to post in order to generate a larger following and reception. This changes daily due to newer posts gaining more ‘impressions’ and is something which I will continue to track.
I have found the above insights really useful and reassuring that my magazine is targeting the right audience as initially thought, even if the ag bracket is larger than expected or initially stated.
I am planning on tracking this every 1-2 weeks, in order to see how this changes or stays the same as more content is developed, designed, created and posted in order to ensure that my magazine and instagram content remains within the correct demographic bracket, whilst also working towards gaining a larger following to share my findings with more people locally, nationally and internationally, whilst also aiming to generate press and publicity for both my FMP and professional context to help my future career.
I really would like to continue this magazine in my professional practice post MA, and build this around my career either as a freelancer or working as a graphic designer in a studio/agency environment working with fashion and beauty accounts. Hopefully, long term, I would like to build the magazine to be published in print and digitally on a website, allowing for submissions from different people around the world, which would enable ‘real’, current and relevant content to be continually used, following in the same vein as this addition, which is based on all of the research I have done to date through semester 1 & 2, including research trips, interviews, academic, theoretical and object-based research, for example.