Julia A Durant
3 -20- 10
Consider the following argument from both sides: A photograph has the power to convey the truth. A photograph has the power to distort the truth. If your argument refers to a specific photograph or photos add them to your blog (and label that entry clearly as “midterm exam”). You may want to take a look at a magazine for inspiration.
Beauty is something that has been manipulated in the media forever. Dove’s campaign for real beauty is one of the first Ad Campaign’s that I’ve seen, that has highlighted real women and real curves. Before even getting into the idea of photographs I think it’s important to discuss the idea of beauty and how its changed. Beauty is something that helps define what is social acceptable depending on what background you come from. The campaign for Real Beauty is something that emphasizes all aspects of what it means to be beautiful aside from what one part of society thinks Centering on the subject of body image, putting the campaign aside for a moment if we are ot take into consideration the ‘Thin’ project by Lauren Greenfield it is easy to see that beauty holds a lot of weight when it comes to what young girls think about themselves as well as the type of pressure they face in their everyday lives. Anorexia and Bulimia are two of the most common eating disorders among young girls today. Magazines like Elle and Seventeen are used as cultural touchstones when it comes to what these girls should look like and what they should wear. Everyone wants to look like their favorite star, but this type of admiration hides a nasty reality. By striving to look like these famous women, young girls are rejecting their bodies and trying to conform to what they think is normal. Lauren Greenfield’s photograph’s for Thin concerning a young girl named Aiva demonstrate this.
A side by side of Aiva a subject of Greenfeild's 'Thin'
The side by side photos at first glance appear to be a thirteen or twelve year old girl being paired against one that is at least sixteen or seventeen. Obviously something is wrong here if one girl can look like two separate people in a space of ten days. The two photos give a clear meaning to the term body dysmorphia; they may be pictures of the same girl but they also manage to speak to the issue of what it means to have a distorted body image. Dove’s campaign for ‘real beauty’ seems to be a step in the right direction, this is of course until it is examined further. Even though their intentions are good billboard advertisements for Dove as well as much of the products out there today, feature airbrushed and digitized versions of their models. The argument of what is ‘real’ beauty verses what is real beauty comes into play here.
Again the intentions of this advertising campaign may be good, but in the end it continues to do what it tries to negate. The idea that there is one definite type of beauty and that all women cannot live up to the standard. By digitizing women, it is now possible to make the struggle to be socially acceptable that much harder. The photograph’s in Greenfield’s Thin are in fact so horrifying they look to draw inspiration from prisoners at concentration camps. The amount of bodily suffering these girls endure to live up to a standard is not only harming them, but also shows the level of extremes they will go to just to fit in. A website of the same name, offered a more PC and nicer approach to the fight by showcasing stories by real women as well as offering information on how to support the movement, however in my research there has been more backlash towards the campaign than praise. An interesting part of the website I found was the self esteem section. If you completed the exercises you received a self esteem certificate. This raises the question has the fight to be the ideal become so bad young women need tools to deal with their own short comings? The answer is yes. True beauty has become something that has been reassembled and distorted so many times, that there is a need for campaign’s like Doves
The Dove Onslaught Short Film
Short films like this one demonstrate the type of power that the beauty industry has when it comes to reaching young women and influencing them. Everything goes by very quickly but the message in the film is very clear. Diet and keeping young are key components when it comes to staying desirable and socially acceptable. Even the term ‘Anti Aging’ on beauty creams and other products help expose the fact that we live in a society that values disposable and superficial qualities in its women. Dove also has an answer to this, they have coined the term ‘Pro Age’ while doing this they have managed to turn the beauty debate into something political since Pro and Anti are terms that are usually associated with arguments concerning things like abortion and health care. This just goes to show how deeply rooted body image and outward appearances are in American pop-culture.
Girl Culture ends up exposing the other side of the beauty industry; while it deals mainly with body image, body image and the beauty industry go hand in hand. Returning back to the idea of ‘truth’ in photography, I think it is not only important to understand what true beauty is but to also understand how ‘true’ beauty is created. Images may be used to illustrate things, but in this case they not only take on an expository quality but, the artistic integrity of these pictures when they are being altered to look one way or another are being compromised. The girl in the above illustration is holding her breasts the look on her face is disparaging, but what’s to say that this same picture cannot end up somewhere else and used for another purpose entirely? This is where I think the idea of exploitation of the female body comes in. The idea that the Dove campaign is trying to change the way beauty is viewed is a positive thing, however even while trying to emphasize the importance of self esteem in young women, they are still telling their consumers what beauty needs to look like.
Bellow are three magazine covers with three seperate models. Two are caucasian and one is african american. While all three of them look different if you look a little closer the messages all stay the same.
Fashion lipo suction and self improvement are all very shallow issues but they all play into the bigger argument that is female body image. Female celebrities have just as much power as advertisement companies. Lauren Greenfield calls the female body ‘a canvas’ where girls express themselves, however when these bodies are used to sell consumers negative messages, the artistic quality of the ‘canvas’ Greenfield speaks of becomes corrupt and compromised. Photographs have the power to distort and enhance their subjects, but I think that the real power cannot entirely be thrust upon the images themselves. The messages and the people who convey them are doing the real harm.
“Photographer Lauren Greenfield Focuses on the Distortions of Girls’ Culture – The Boston Globe.” Boston.com. Web. 22 Mar. 2010. <http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2009/03/22/a_clear_lens_on_distorted_values
Web. 22 Mar. 2010. http://www.dove.us/#/cfrb/.
Greenfield, Lauren, and David Herzog. Thin – Lauren Greenfield. San Francisco: Chronicle [u.a.], 2006. Print.
Greenfield, Lauren. Girl Culture. San Francisco, Calif.: Chronicle, 2002. Print.