Julias Soc 240 Blogging and thoughts

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog


SOC 240 Midterm Exam

by Julia

Julia A Durant
3 -20- 10
SOC 240
Question 3

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.

Lauren Greenfeild's 'Girl 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.

Work Cited

“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.

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