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February 21, 2007

My role model via the media

She’s regarded as one of sexiest women in Hollywood. Actress LisaRaye McCoy lights up the small screen in the new hit comedy series “ALL OF US?, executive produced by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Ambitious, beautiful, and one of the hardest working women in showbiz, LisaRaye has catapulted her career from a hip-hop pin-up favorite to mainstream recognition on the silver and small screens. Fiesty, Fine and Fierce, LisaRaye is one of Hollywood’s“Hot Girls?. She’s not just a pretty face, no stranger to the stage and silver screen, LisaRaye can carry a dramatic role with authority, grace and depth For this assignment I had a female in mind that I wanted to talk about because I just feel that she is absolutely stunning. LisaRaye McCoy is my role model, 41 years old and she looks fabulous shes an actress, inspiring entrepreneur, loving mother and wife.
I look up to her because her beauty is natural, and she knows how to be sexy and conservative at the same time. I have yet to hear about any scandals involving her. She makes other African American realize that you dont have to have the fake boobs, or a(n) "apple bottom" to be sexy. I found my favorite picture of her along with a picture of her and younger sister Da Brat.
This is the link to her photo.
http://www.parkrose.k12.or.us/schools/hs/our_life/student_pages/04-05/8_tabeal/images/lisaraye45.jpeg
This link is to the photo of her and younger sister Da Brat
http://us.ent2.yimg.com/musicfinder.yahoo.com/images/yahoo/arista/dabrat/da_brat_lisaraye_0250.jpg
Although they are only half sisters the message that Da Brat sends just based off this picture is "Ladies show what you are working with" while LisaRaye is wearing something less exposing.
I recently got a magazine and on the front cover one of the articles was about the role that Hip-Hop plays on women. I will bring it to class to share on thursday.

taking control of mainstream female objectivity

I am bored with celebrities. I like to see what normal people are doing to reinforce or subvert ideas. Instead of going with a holocaust-survivor headcase or perfection under the patriarchy, I decided to go with the girls who I know aren't taking any of that mainstream bs.

http://www.suicidegirls.com

http://www.myspace.com/suicidegirls

Continue reading "taking control of mainstream female objectivity" »

February 20, 2007

Images of Women

I've tended to notice a trend in mainstream movie stars where women who continue to act as female leads lose weight the further their career moves along. When a new star is introduced, she generally has a look of healthy beauty. This health seems to wain as the need to be thin and look perfect takes over these women's lives, not to mention the popular trend of plastic surgery.

Jennifer Aniston during Season One of Friends:

Jennifer Aniston now:

It's true she has also aged more than ten years, but it's impossible to ignore the obvious difference in weight that makes her face look gaunt and probably older than she needs to look.

Continue reading "Images of Women" »

Jessica...not quite right

While the show newlyweds dispelled beliefs that Jessica Simpson was always posed and graceful, when I look at this image I still think danty and proper. She is perfectly dressed and groomed. Her body is probably as close as it can get in terms of popular culture's perception of the ideal body type. She is engulfed in the arms of her man, she doesn't even have her arms touching John Mayer. To me this seems the opposite of independence. Basically this speaks to a norm that a woman needs a man. First it was her ex husband, who as we all saw, treated her like a child, partially because she acted as such and partially because she was dependent on him to make her decisions. Then there is her father, who essentially makes all of her career decisions as her manager. Jessica
is a multimillionaire but still always seems to be in the arms of a man. It is as if being solo is shameful. I feel that while she looks beautiful, this image only screams fallacies. No one looks like that all the time. Most women don't have an entourage to upkeep them every minute of every day. Therefore I feel that this image only sends a negative message to people who may look up to her, including young girls

Continue reading "Jessica...not quite right" »

Jocelyn Wildenstein

I could not figure out how to post a photo but I do know how to embed from you tube so here is a video of the ex-wife of a millionaire who paid thousands and thousands of dollars to look like a cat! What does this image say to us? My initial reaction to this image was sorrow. I feel sorry for her because whenever someone goes through such lengths to change themselves it is a statement that something is going on in their life or has happened in their life and instead of seeking help to change themselves on the inside, they began to work on outside appearances. My next reaction was a mixture between anger and disgust. What does it say about society? I think this image reinforces the negative idea and stressors of women to constantly look good regardless of age and circumstance. What does this image say to little girls? Hopefully it will scare them into being happy with themselves as they are! The sad thing is she was pretty before she underwent surgery.

Britney's Bald Head is More Than Just a Poor Fashion Choice

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I chose this photo of some type of painting of Britney Spears shaving her head as my image for this example because I think Britney's rapid descent into party hell is a classic example of what can happen when we put too much pressure on young women. I think her shaving her head is just her way of saying "I don't care what I should look like or what I should be doing, this is what I want". Her doing that actually made me like her more.

I like to think of Britney's life in three phases.

Britney One - Pop Princess people pleasing Britney. This Britney lived up to the image that was set up for her, she was clean, wholesome, ... gasp, A VIRGIN. This Britney displays the image of what young girls "should" aspire too. (I use the term should loosely). She was clean cut while still being sexy in that whole Lolita kind of way, which is an image that teen/pre teen girls often aspire too. I personally feel that young girls (Im talking like 16 and under here) should not emulate this phase of Britney's life, regardless of her wholesome appeal. She still dressed like a woman twice her age and was openly and blatantly sexual. But hey, at least she wasn't showing her cha-cha to everyone.

Britney Two - Paris Loving Party Britney. This Britney partied, drank, shopped, carried her kid into Trashy Lingerie and exemplified that "raunch culture" image of what it means to be a woman that we discussed in class. This Britney however, is clearly a reaction to Britney one. At least she is trying to form some image of herself that isn't prefabricated. This image of Britney as a woman is a classic example of the "celebutante" phenomenon that so many young girls are trying to emulate.

Britney Three - Bald head Britney This Britney is a direct reaction to the previous Britneys. This Britney is sick of having an image to live up to, this Britney is a cautionary tale for other women who try to be something that they are not. I think this Britney shows the danger that lies in giving women "norms", "personas", and "typical behaviors"to live up to.

I have never been a huge fan of Britney, but after seeing her like this I really felt sorry for her. She spent her whole life trying to be the "right" kind of famous girl/woman and be what everyone wanted her to be, and look where it got her.

Discreet Power of Imagery

http://i.today.reuters.co.uk/misc/genImage.aspx?uri=2006-12-04T172220Z_01_NOOTR_RTRIDSP_2_HEALTH-OBESITY-BEHAVIOUR-DC.jpg&resize=w160


I'm afraid I'm not too savvy when it comes to posting images, but if you will copy and paste that link, you will see the image which I will discuss.

This is not a positive image. I found this image accompanying an article (Reuters, UK, as is evident from the link) about obesity and various ways to combat your body without starving yourself (totally). Now, while I do recognize real medical issues that go along with types obesity in some people at some periods in life, I'm desperately curious as to what this picture was to illustrate in this general advice column.

This picture is a beach setting, but as you can see, both people in the picture are women. Hmm, because only women care about 'health', right? And of course, the stark contrast between bodies, not faces or people, but bodies is evident through tanned/white skin, glistening/matte bodies, and size/weight. The thing is, neither woman IS obese...one is quite slender and athletic, while the other might -- MIGHT -- be a bit overweight. Yes, it is the compare/contrast incentive this image is supposed to offer to the Obesity Concerned Audience which is disturbing, but the most unsettling aspect are the women's gazes. True, the gaze is implied, for we cannot see either women's face, but the larger woman's face is turned towards the thinner, tanner, shinier woman in the water. As though this woman is observing what she, in her "obese" state, could attain (and in a swimsuit!) by following the advice in this column. And the slim woman with the strange bikini bottom is looking out into the ocean, the endless world of challege which she, as an embodiment of popular culture's standards of women's bodies' beauty, can face in a non-slimming two-piece.

why can't she just be beautiful?

I was looking for a picture for this blog, and I thought I would find a picture of a super skinny model dressed in barely anything, so when I saw this picture...

I was surprised and disgusted. Not because of the image. The image itself is a good, positive one. She's a pretty girl, she's sexy and happy and not whored out in skimpy clothes. As just the image this is great. Where I get my problem is with the headline that accompanied it and the website it was found on. BigCupid.com, and the headline was 'Big and Beautiful.' Okay...so why can't this woman just be labeled as beautiful? Why do we need to reinforce negative stereotypes and label things based on the fact that they're bigger than the mainstream media says they should be? Where do we go around taking pictures for the cover of Cosmo and labeling them "Stick Thin and Beautiful"? If you look at the image itself then it's a good thing, the way I see it is that all women are beautiful, but when you see where the picture came from I think it loses a lot.

Ideal Beauty

Why bother with all of these details about global beauty, ideal proportions, and such? Is it to make anyone who's not "perfect" feel perfectly lousy?
http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art32169.aspThat link is the full website.

Society puts a lot of pressure on women and men alike to be ideal, and beautiful. Women seem to be marketed towards more. When we are marketed to, the channel in which this happens displays unachievable standards for a very large amount of population.
People have forgotten the "melting pot" that America is. People have forgotten that their parents determine their body type. Not everyone can be her:
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I believe that displaying all types of women in the media would help diminish the homogenous look of the ideal woman of today. Perfection is only in books, movies and between glossy pages of vogue etc. This is their job to look that way, people forget that as well. Another point though, is that designers get paid to make these people look their best-it's called ridiculous amounts of photoshop and image manipulation.
The average public doesn't know how these tools work, so they get starry eyed with what they want to be when in reality their ideal weight and whatever else probably isn't even a healthy weight.
Personally, I find healthy attractive.

What Women are Supposed to Look Like

It was hard to know where to start looking for images for this week’s blog assignment. So many possibilities… so I googled the phrase “the perfect body?, and the first image that appeared was this bikini-clad woman posing on a beach:

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It was part of an advertisement for “medical tourism?, which means “Spend 10 days at the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world, and have a breast augmentation, a liposuction, or any other procedure you can think of, all for less money than in your home country!? Yeah, sounds like a really fun vacation. I can hardly begin to count the reasons why I find it disturbing. But I’ll try:

1. The idea of plastic surgery in the first place that isn’t for restorative or actual health purposes (like after an accident or a mastectomy, or a breast reduction or nasal breathing problem-related nose surgery).
2. That anyone would use their precious vacation time, a small and valuable commodity in America, to spend in painful recovery from plastic surgery.
3. As if one would really be enjoying the most beautiful sandy beaches in the world while they’re all swollen and cut open and probably can’t move around very well.
4. That anyone would be willing to risk their health over a cosmetic surgery in a country where it could be significantly cheaper, but they may not have the medical facilities we would expect here.
5. There probably isn’t much recourse for anyone who gets messed up by a botched cosmetic surgery in a foreign country.
6. Any surgery is dangerous! There is always a risk of infection, which if not treated properly, could potentially lead to death. And how awful if it were in a foreign country, away from loved ones, and embarrassing that it would have occurred essentially due to vanity.

The fact that women are willing to go to such extremes to attain perfection show that just like the attitudes discussed by Peril from the 50s and 60s, women should still be placing beauty above all else.

Here again it is reinforced that the perfect body is not a natural thing. A perfect body has nothing to do with a body’s own inherent beauty. It is instead something that must be fabricated, and at a great financial and physically painful cost.

The images we are constantly surrounded by in advertising are fake for many reasons, but most of the fakeness has to do with airbrushing the photos to make people look thinner, smoother, or whatever else. Now, even the beautiful live humans we see are often fake to some extent as plastic surgery becoming increasingly common.

This image is sexy, there is no doubt about it. The woman is young, thin, tan, hairless, and large-breasted. These are the standards of beauty in our culture.

However, I believe the image is negative because it holds up a standard that isn’t attainable for the vast majority of women. At least, not without the plastic surgery it is trying to sell, makeup, and probably extreme dieting.

Britney Goes Bald

Over the weekend, it seems that Britney Spears decided to change her look. She shaved her head bald, and suddenly there is an uproar in the media. It goes to show how important the appearance of feminitiy is in our culture. Long hair is associated with feminine beauty in many cultures, not just our own. When a woman decides to do away with this association, especially in such a drastic and public way, it unsettles people. The article that the photo came from described Britney Spears as looking "bloated and greasy." I just ask myself; would there be this kind of a reaction to a man who grew his hair long? The emphasis placed women's looks is so great. Magazine articles and the press are often scrutinizing the way women look and dress, often ignoring their male counterparts.

Now, Britney may be seen as ugly simply because she is no longer conforming to societal beauty standards. Possibly as a reaction to this, Britney has been seen wearing a wig. Although is probable that this is a cry for help, if Britney decided to shave her head in a healthy frame of mind, that's her prerogative. Long hair doesn't need to equal beauty.

February 19, 2007

Beauty and Women

http://www.duke.edu/~jbw3/pps114R/calvin%20klein.jpg
I think that this image is beautiful, and I envy her. The ad is for underwear, but it focuses on the woman's body. That is what I see. I look at the woman first, then I glance at the bra. In this way, the image is negative. It is advertising the woman. The model is super thin. Agreeing with Bordo, this image equates slenderness with beauty. Her body is tight and lean. Most people do not look like this. Even if we know that the photo was photoshopped, and all her imperfections erased, girls still look at it, and want to be like her. Peril talks about make-up, and how it is used to attract men. Her make-up and her body is sexualized. The main norms that this advertisement reinforces is beauty, sexuality, and consumerism.

February 18, 2007

Perfection, rarely achieved outside the Victoria’s Secret catalogue

The title of this blog is a quote taken from the Gilmore Girls. I don’t remember at all in which connection this was said but it stuck to my mind and I immediately thought of it again as I was reading the articles in the course packet and the chapter in Pink Think about charm and beauty. After reading the articles I knew exactly where to look for an image of a woman who speaks to these issues; the Victoria’s Secret website. On the front page of the site this picture was plastered to promote the arrival of their swim suit collection.


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My reaction to this image is the same as my usual reaction to every picture there is in the Victoria’s Secret website and catalogues; wow. There’s no denying that this woman is gorgeous and that she rocks that swimsuit like there’s no tomorrow. Of course I know that she has been made up with tons of make up and body bronzer, photographed in the most flattering pose and retouched to perfection in pre-production but I still can’t help being in awe of this and all the other pictures in Victoria’s Secret (VS). I love flipping through their catalogues and browsing the website and do it almost every day. I think they are marketing geniuses. They sell perfection and do it so well by bombarding the shopper with, yes- perfection.

The reader of this blog might be surprised after all the praise I just gave, that I find this image to be completely negative. The effect VS has on me is probably the same effect it has on a lot of other women. When I leave the site or put down the catalogue I feel inadequate. Now, I’m not saying that I go and weigh myself or scrutinize my body flaws in the mirror after looking at these images but I never do feel empowered or happy afterwards. I may be happy if I have a couple of bras arriving in the mail in a few days but I’m still unsettled because I know I’ll never achieve the perfection they are selling. I bet not one girl can say they feel better after browsing the VS catalogue, if they do, more power to them, I just haven’t met one yet.

Let’s examine why.

Three Times a (proper) Lady

Poise
As she stands there, casually leaning up against a wall that must be frying; no one will mistake her for a non-lady. She looks as if she is completely comfortable with herself and that the world is at her feet. And why wouldn’t it? She’s a perfectly charming and beautiful girl. She is wearing expensive and perfect swimwear and accessories to match. Those accessories don’t look like they can handle water or a rough game of beach volley but that’s not an issue here. A girl like her does not play around… she’s the kind of girl that lies on the beach and gives girls like me insecurities about how I look in my washed-out tankini.

Body
Her body is perfect. Her thighs are slim and looks like they go on for ever, her stomach is toned and her breasts are firm and perky. While she is still curvy there’s no doubt that she doesn’t eat cheeseburgers or cheesecake that often because here and there bones are showing, especially around her collar-area. Of course this is the kind of body on which this particular swimsuit would look good on and I don’t blame VS for putting it on her but that still doesn’t make girls who can’t even look decent in a full suit feel any better about their body.


Beauty
She is perfect all around, from her even tan to the full bronzed lips. Make-up like that would probably melt in the heat of the sun reflecting on the sand but not on a VS-girl it doesn’t. Now, her eyes aren’t visible but I bet that those are perfectly lined, shadowed and with just the perfect amount of mascara on her long full lashes. She looks like a girl who always has the perfect made up face… I mean, if she has make up on the beach, where would she not have it? But not all girls have access to a make up artist everyday… some of us can’t even put on eye liner without stabbing themselves in the eyes…

But this is the ideal some of us girls feel we have to live up to and most often than not, we fail. Not only does this hurt our relationships with our body but we come to belittle our worth because in our society, no matter what people say, appearance is so important. Girls should come in the form of the perfect package... preferably.

Yes, I have a love-hate-relationship with Victoria’s Secret. While I am addicted to it, it also makes me realize that that kind of perfection will never be attained by me. I don’t feel fooled, though… I know that they have to advertise like this in order to sell their products… but still. Maybe I’m just torturing myself and should just stop looking. No one’s forcing me to look. But I love the things they sell even though they will never look on me as they do on the models… still I keep on buying.

It’s genius…

and evil at the same time


Behaving Like a Lady

This weeks readings from the course packet and Perils book, I found it difficult to think of any one person in the media who emulated the ideas concepts that were so prevalent in history. The readings focused on what makes a woman feel womanly and how she should present herself to the public. It was important to be charming and to show others that you respected yourself and them through demonstrating a "healthy mental attitude", by engaging in "unfailing service to others and always be involved in "some form of constructive activity" with these ideals in mind the first media personality that I thought of was Angelina Jolie. She is always very composed and confident and still very lady like in her decorum. She does a lot of time worthy charity work and is rarely found involved in scandals that end up in the magazines and she definitely has her priorities set straight, she knows that her family comes first and that doing good work and being respected by people in the industry is also a significant of presenting a positive image. I think that Angelina Jolie does an excellent job of demonstrating a positive image to all women. She reinforces good values as a part of her life and using her time effectively and accomplishing the most good.
The chapter also talks about beauty products and the roles that they play in a womans every day life. Peril says "In theory this means, makign up with a light hand...in practice, however it often meant making sure you didnt get caught with a naked face". I think that the shift over time is interesting because in the past men didnt like women to wear makeup, or at least they didnt want to know about it, and now days men dont seem to think the women are themselves wihtout makeup, looking plain with a clean face is out of the question for many women who refuse to leave the house without "their face on".

iMAGES

I was looking online for an image of a woman that speaks to the issues we are discussing in class. One of the first images i came across was a picture of Britney Spears with a shaved head. Britney Spears has had many different images over the years, and I never expected her to have an image with a shaved head. At first, I thought it was a joke or something, but then there were pictures of her without hair. Britney Spears is a well known figure in the media, and she went against the norm by shaving her head. She is supposed to be a positive role model for women today. I was shocked to see her do such a thing as shave her head. If it was for some charity event or for a specific puropse I might have different feelings about it. I understand that she might be going through a hard time, however she is a very public person and people are influenced be celebrities. It said online that she checked into rehab for a day and then checked herself out. It might be a positive thing for her to do, and I think her fans might look up to her for taking control of her life.

Looking Like a Lady

After reading Peril's chapter 6, I chose to key in on the subject she wrote about, "The Road to Happiness Is Paved with Beauty Products." All of the Proactivel commercials kept popping into my mind while reading; here is one of the commercials (this particular clip features Kelly Clarkson):

In my opinion, the commericals that Proactive make are pretty sad. The company takes advantages of a pretty girl by lowering her self-estemm (just to sell their products!) because of unclear skin - there is more to a woman than unclear skin. Regardless of her appearance, a young woman should feel good about herself. However, our society, as the Proactive commercials reinforce, focuses in on women needing to have pretty, flawless skin regardless of how they feel inside. Though I understand that these commercials are not always truthful, I feel that this is a negative image of women because, to me, self-esteem and confidence is much more important, beneficial, and ever-lasting than appearance.

February 16, 2007

Looking Like a Lady

Being a young woman today means being bombarded by our society's preoccupation with beauty and fitness. Take a look at any magazine rack, billboard, website ad, television screen, or even newspaper, and you will come to find that the icons of today are not politicians, not religious figures, not activists or any figure that really makes a tangible difference to our world. No, our icons are thin, glossy, augmented actors, singers, and models. People whose only job is to entertain, to create an illusion. Their job is not to teach us, and they are not qualified to lead us, and yet they do. We follow them like curious children, watching them from a distance off the covers of magazines, and like children, we try to mimic their actions. We want to look like them. We want to look like women. And what does our celebrity culture have to say about looking like a woman?
That you must be:
ANOREXIC
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and as Lindsay shows us here, to be beautiful, to feel beautiful, means giving up what makes you YOU, and in her case (and numerous other celebrities, models, etc) you have to die your hair out of its natural color to, well,
BLONDE
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and hey, as long as you're thin, tan and blonde, if you really want to prove you're a woman, why don't you
TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES
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because otherwise, how is anyone going to be able to tell which gender you are? You've got to make sure everyone can see your breasts and your nipped in waist, your waxed legs and curvaceous behind, because thats what makes you a real woman.
Right?

Image from Website

As I read "Raunch Culture" earlier this week, one image ingrained in my memory kept resurfacing. I was thinking about the scene Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilara made at the 2003 MTV Video Awards. Corseted and scantily clad, the women kissed and pretended to grope each other. Clearly, the intent was to shock the audience but at the same time the women seemed to suggest a certain normalcy or acceptability to their actions. No doubt their target audience was primarily men, since the majority of men I spoke with the next day thought it was "awesome." But the women seemed to be oblivious to the fact that persons of all ages were tuned in that evening to watch their role models behave as anything but.

http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1477729/20030828/spears_britney.jhtml