Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Survey Analysis of Mass Media and Body Image

Survey Information and Introduction

    Mass media is pervasive and plays a major role in American culture, if not world culture. Most people encounter mass media in their daily lives, be it through the magazines one reads, or the television and movies that people watch. As mass media grows its effects reach further than the consumers pocketbook or the home panty, it may affect one own psyche and ultimately health. Many studies have found that mass media has a effect on one body image but few have determined what in mass media, what television shows, what type of magazines, what type of music, and movies are responsible for the mental warfare on its very consumers.  So I pose the question what is exactly to blame for the negative body image.    

     I will answer these questions by analyzing the affect mass media has on a person’s body image, which is closely tied with eating disorders. The task will be accomplished though a survey that will be administered to the students of California State University Fullerton at Irvine (CSUFI) and their friends. The survey probes the depths of mass media by, first, asking the participant of the mass media in their lives, whether it by through magazines, movies, music artists, music videos, and television.

   Second, the participants are asked a series of questions to determine their feelings about their body. The questions concerning body image seek to eliminate bias by asking the participant to provide a numerical rating of their body image followed by a questions asking for a brief description of how they feel and what they would change on their bodies if they could. After, they are asked to provide personal opinions of body images portrayed in mass media.

   Finally, the ratings are averaged and applied to their appropriate category. Conformity of responses is achieved in personal description body descriptions by categorizing whether they responses are excellent, satisfactory, neutral, unsatisfactory, or poor with body images portrayals in mass media following a similar equation. Categories that garnered a low response rate were excluded from the survey to avoid a confounding variables.  

   The procedures of the survey involved telling willing participants that they were about to take part in a survey about health and mass media. Details about the true objective, mass media and its effect on body image were intentionally left out to prevent bias.  Following completion of the survey participants debriefed on the true nature of the survey ensuring that the rights of the participants were not violated. Confidentiality being a main concern, the surveys were designed to be anonymous. Sampling took place via email, to those students on the CSUFI network and at the physical campus of CSUFI to allow those without internet or computer access a chance to participate. Demographic data was collected so that any outlier in the results could be explained.  Now that the structure of the survey has been addressed an examination of the data will commence.

Magazines and Body Image

  The survey analysis of females and magazines found the following data:
* Out of a mean of 6.7 (Body Image Rating out of 10)
   -The lowest rating of body image (5.3) was among those that read magazines concering popular music.
   - The highest ratings of body image (7.4) was among those that read magazines in the field of healthy living.
   -Those that did not read magazines had a body image of 6.8
* There were two categories that had the second highest ratings one was TV and Movies, the other category was female magazines with an adult content.

Refer to chart 1.1 for more information:




   

  


  





The analysis of male responses found the following:
* Out of a mean of 7.5.
   -The highest rating (9) was found in those that read fashion and healthy living magazines.
   -The lowest rating (7) was found in those that read gaming magazines.
   -An interesting note. While in the female sample those that did not read magazines were the enjoyed the    third highest body satisfaction, males that did not read magazines were next to last with regards to body satisfaction.

Refer to chart 1.2 for more information















Magazine Summary

   In examining both male and female responses there are many interesting facts that present themselves. Note how the lowest mean male body rating is 7 ONLY .5 away from the overall mean. On the the other hand notice how for females the gap is 1.4 points nearly triple the differences found in males. As previously noted their is a negative correlation between Male N/A and Female N/A. Other interesting points of note are the differences in the types of magazines read. On a positive note, their seems to be a overall positive or neutral sense of body image when the magazine the person read is in regards to health living or fitness.

Music

The analysis of music and its effect on body image for females found the following points.
*  Out of a mean of 6.7
   -For females those that did not regularly listen to music had the highest mean body satisfaction (7.8).
   -Those that listened to R & B have the lowest level of body satisfaction (5.9)

Further details below on graph 2.1


    The analysis of males found that:
* Out of a mean of 7.5
-those that listened to electric music had the average highest body satisfaction (9)
-the group with the lowest mean were those that did not listen to music (5.9)

Further details below in graph 2.2



Music Summary

   As with magazines there are pronounced schisms and similarities between males and females.  Notice how those that did not listen to music had the lowest body rating (in regards to males) while for females those that did not listen to music had the highest body satisfaction. The not only applies to those that do not listen to music either. Notice the mirror effect for  rap and R & B, while rock and pop both have positive body ratings.

Television 

The analysis of television and its effect on body image found that for females:
* Out of an average of 6.7
   -Those that watched television shows that involved horror had the highest body ratings (7.8) , while the lowest were found in those that viewed documentaries (4.8).
   -Notice how for magazines fitness related material was correlated with higher mean body rating while watching a televised fitness (5) program resulted in the second to lowest mean body rating.

Further details below in graph 3.1




* Concerning males that watched television.
   -Out of an average of 7.5
   -Those that did not watch television had the highest mean body rating (8.6) ,  while those that watched sports had the lowest mean body rating (5.25).





   Television Summary

   With regards to television their appears to be a more balanced  mean body ratings between males and females. The difference between the magazine fitness mean and the television fitness/ sports means should be researched.

Movies  

The analysis for movies and body image rating for females found that:
*Out of a mean of 6.7
   -As with television, those that watched movies that involved horror (7.5) had the highest body rating mean.
   -The lowest body rating mean is correlated with those that watch dramatic films.



Refer to chart 4.1 for more information:




The analysis for movies and body image for males found that:
* Out of an average of 7.5
   -Both adventure and horror have the highest mean body rating (8.3) .
   -Those that did not watch movies had the lowest mean body rating (6.7) .

Refer to chart 4.2 for more information



Movie Summary

   Between male and females horror and adventure share the highest mean rating for both groups. Still notice how the N/A mean for males has become the lowest mean body rating.

Overall Summary 

   In examining that data it seems that a negative body image is associated less with television and movies and stronger when the person is being exposed to magazines or music. Further, data analysis finds that females have a lower mean body rating than the males. Also, females tend to have a larger gap between overall mean body satisfaction and low categorical body rating mean. Regarding the categories of  magazines and music we see that females and males have opposing body image ratings. Differences in body rating means for those the read fitness magazines and those that viewed fitness television shows were present, as well. On a positive note, those that read fitness magazines had a high body rating. On interesting note in those that had a negative body rating they still knew that the media portrayed body images as unrealistic or too skinny.

   In conclusion, I remind those that review these results that these are an initial study of mass media effects and body image. I cannot begin to stress that more research is needed in this field. Because of the nature of this study, looking for the effects of different forms of media upon a sample their is a multiple different sample sizes could cause a type I or type II error. But, regardless of what in mass media causes a negative body image, I stress that if you are experiencing negative body image issues that you seek psychological counseling as soon as possible.  


Mini Summary

So basically all of our research on this project illustrated the way body image is affected and portrayed in popular culture.  It was demonstrated that the media heavily influences the way its audiences, with girls being more susceptible, sees their own body. They compare themselves to the ideal bodies presented by the media to be beautiful. Even despite the fact that many men prefer women who are healthier looking, the effects of advertisements, shows, and celebrities overtake the notion that women desire to look a certain way in order to attract men. It is through different media outlets that this is being done. As seen with the gorgeous timeline, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder seeing as how the definition of beauty itself has changed so drastically over the years, with one thing remaining the same. In every decade, beauty's ideal resided in the same place: the cover of magazines. Another source of media influence is through that of its most celebrated entertainers. From Elvis Presley to Lady Gaga, famous musicians and frontmen have always been sex symbols, representing the ideal body and popular behavior of their respective times. All in all, as society changed so has our standards for beauty.  As women became more liberated they also had more freedom in expressing themselves which began to go from timid and conservative to more sensual and sexual. This shift created a means to both empower and exploit women. Also, the focus on perfection created an unrealistic expectation of what the human body should look like with no body fat or excess curves. Youth has always been a sign of beauty and now combined with the constant advertisement of  rail-thin women, beauty is portrayed in child-like, pre-puberty models who do all they can to be underwieght and then after air-brushing they can be the envy of American girls who will never attain that body.  Beauty standards are consistent over time in that they reflect the values of the society.  These values are constantly changing and thus beauty standards are too.

(Jenna & Melissa)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Literature Review


Annotated Bibliographies

Tiggemann, M, & Slater, A. (2004). Thin Ideals in Music Television: A Source of Social Comparison and Body Dissatisfaction. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 35(1), 48-58.

The above article suggests that music television, i.e., MTV, VH1, FUSE, etc., is often is the way young person learns to socialize. Tiggemann’s research set out to demonstrate that this form of popular culture portrays women in sexist and often unrealistic stereotypes.  By exposing research participants to music videos with thin, attractive women, the participants felt more dissatisfied with their body appearance than after viewing videos featuring typical every day, ordinary looking people.

Tiggeman is clearly well qualified; as a professor of psychology at Flinders University in Australia, she has published many other articles on body image and women’s issues.  This article was very well researched with over 30 references, two of which were previous works by Tiggeman herself.  Only minor weakness appears in this study as it pertains to our research; only females were sampled so the idea of male body dissatisfaction was never addressed. Also, the participants in the research study were paid to be a part of the study, which can lead to bias. 

This research relates to our topic as MTV has often dictated popular culture by being the benchmark to what is considering hip, trendy, and relevant.  Taking that ideal a step further, the female body types that are featured in many of the artists’ videos on MTV also suggest the ideal feminine form that many women feel pressured to attain.

Parasecoli, F. (2007). Bootylicious: Food and the Female Body in Contemporary Black Pop Culture. Women's Studies Quarterly, 35(1/2), 110-125.

Parasecoli’s theory is based on the idea that the black woman’s fleshy body is thought of as a source of nourishment.  Especially the derriere or the “booty.”  His article exemplifies the ideal female form and contradicts the general ideal of what most people consider the “perfect feminine physique;” skinny and lithe, but fleshy and bottom-heavy.  The author relates the consumption of good food with female prowess.

The article’s author is not only a political and cultural scientist, but also a culinary expert who has studied many foods and cultures around the world.  He uses multiple references of popular songs and movies to illustrate his points, most notably, the 2001 top 10 hit from Destiny’s Child featuring Beyonce, “Bootylicious” in which she sings “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.”

Black artists such as Lill Wayne, Beyonce, and Jay-Z dominate the current popular music charts.  Over the past quarter century, rap and R&B music have become more mainstream and have integrated African-American traditions and ideals, traditions, and “urban slang” into American pop culture. 

Bell, M. (2004). There's Something About Barbie. JCT V. 20 No. 2 (Summer 2004) P. 53-64, 20(2), 53-64.

Bell’s article resolidifies the Barbie doll as an American pop icon. For decades, the Barbie doll has been marketed to young girls as the ideal woman, a standard for which young ladies should aspire to become.  Bell suggests that Barbie’s image has been ingrained in the public consciousness as something deeper—more than “just a doll,” but the unattainable object of the heterosexual male desire.  She also utilizes theories from psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek that the Barbie doll is merely a reflection of the male’s narcissism.

Dr. Mebbie Bell is a professor at the University of Alberta with a background in women’s studies and popular culture (http://www.uofaweb.ualberta.ca.)  At times, the article seems repetitive and relies on too many outside references by other researchers which forces to reader to literally Google as they read to fully understand the article.

The Barbie doll has spanned generations and now she has even grown with the technological boom; she has DS games, her own website, and iTunes downloads.  She is often the first role model (other than sisters, mothers, and grandmothers) in a young girl’s life.  Barbie’s name is synonymous with “perfection.”  The notion of ideal beauty and how it impacts body image is highly relevant to our research topic.  Oddly, Barbie’s overall design has not changed in 50 years; she still has ridiculously long legs, large breasts, and an impossible waistline.

Grabe, S., Hyde, J., & Ward, L., (2008). The Role of the Media in Body Image Concerns Among Women: A Meta-Analysis of Experimental and Correlational Studies. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 460-476.

The authors of this study from the University of Wisconsin set out to prove that mass media’s representation of the female body could possibly have negative and harmful repercussions in young girls and women.  By use of meta-analysis or a multiple experimental approach, both experimental and correlational studies. The relationship between body image, body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, and the unrealistic images of certain fashion magazines, television advertisements, celebrated celebrities, and so on.

The three authors of the article, Grabe, Hyde, and Ward utilized a multiple experimental approach to their study in order to develop a correlation for the most accurate results. The research subjects in this study were limited only to white females. This was one of the better-researched studies; this article made referenced to many other scholarly articles throughout the reading. Also, research bias could be suggested as it suggests in the introduction that the researchers were aware of what the ultimate results of the study would present.

Women are large consumers of media in all forms--books, magazines, music, television, and movies.  In these vehicles of mass media, the ultra-thin, glamorous female archetype is over represented, thus enforcing the fallacy of the “thin ideal.”  Over time, continued exposure to these images reinforces this ideal.

Owen, P., & Laurel-Seller, E. (2000). Weight and Shape Ideals: Thin is Dangerously in. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30(5), 979-990.

Owen’s article points out that a high percentage of trends towards thinner standards of body mass compared to previous decades by comparing Playboy centerfold models of the 1960’s to the centerfolds of the 1990’s.  These standards, unfortunately meet the criteria for the definition of many eating disorders.

“Thin Is In” is a relatively short read; however, there are several citations and bibliographical references.  The article is a bit dated, from the 1990’s.  It is important to note that the researchers in this study admitted that a lot of the data (the body measurements of the Playboy models) was self-reported and may not be accurate.

The likening of the female body type to the Playboy models is timely because of the very popular television program “Girls Next Door.”  This program is on the E! Television Network, which anyone of any age can watch on the cable network.  The message sent to young women (and young men) is that if you are super thin, young and pretty, you don’t have to be necessarily education, just thin and pretty and you can be a concubine.

Cunningham, H. (2002). Prodigal Bodies: Pop Culture and Post-pregnancy. Michigan Quarterly Review V. 41 No. 3 (Summer 2002) P. 428-54, 41(3), 428-454

The post-partum body is equated with the biblical story of the Prodigal Son – one body “leaves” and the “other” body stays behind to do the “labor.” This article also points out the time constraints that women are under to bring back their pre-baby figures and class related differences between those ladies who can shed the pregnancy pounds quickly and those who cannot (with money and the proper resources, anything is possible.) 

This article is a respectable piece of journalism with memorable pop culture references and little scientific jargon. The article does go a bit off topic a bit from the issue post pregnancy weight loss to more of a social commentary on celebrity status. 

Any given week, one can pick up a weekly entertainment magazine such as People, or US Weekly and there will almost always be a photo and accompanying article of yet another “celebrity mom” flaunting her svelte “body after baby” physique.  Recently, news stories of supermodel and “Project Runway” hostess Heidi Klum walking the catwalk at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show mere weeks after the birth of her fourth child stunned audiences and made those people still carrying around post pregnancy pounds green with envy.  Is this type of media celebrations helpful or harmful?

Kimmel, M. S. (2007). The Gendered Body. The Gendered Society (pp. 277-284). New York: Oxford University Press, USA.

The advent of the Internet as well as new advances in plastic surgery procedures has changed the way we look and feel about our bodies.  Kimmel writes about how beauty is gendered and the heavy weight it carries on the female.  He also discusses the cultural differences in how other societies view their bodies, for example how women’s breasts are exposed in other cultures without it being sexualized.  We also learn about the “Beauty Myth” and how it is impossible to be both voluptuous and thin, as so women wish.  Lastly, Kimmel also writes about men’s disturbances by citing the “Adonis Complex,” or the unrealistic belief that men must achieve god-like body proportions.

Kimmel’s views on the gendered body are balanced as he not only focuses on the female dilemma of body consciousness, but he also discusses male issues with body dissatisfaction.  Kimmel is a Sociologist and author of many college texts and multiple articles on the subject of gender and men’s issues. (http://www.sunysb.edu/sociol/faculty/Kimmel/BIOkimmel.htm

It is important to note how the World Wide Web has become part of the Pop Culture landscape and how it has changed how we feel and see our bodies.  Not only can we view magazines on newsstands, but we can catch glimpses of them online as well.  Publishers, advertisers, and photographers have at their disposal, various photo-editing software that can easily manipulate any image to appear “thinner” or more “muscular” with the click of a mouse. Unfortunately, in real life, our bodies are not as easily manipulated.

Gill, R. (2008). Empowerment/Sexism: Figuring Female Sexual Agency in Contemporary Advertising. Feminism & Psychology, 18(1), 35-60.

Since the 1970’s, women have become more financially independent and less objectified in advertisements as well as more critical of their content.  Rosalind Gill’s article sets out to explain that women now are represented as more sexual powerful and have more control of their bodies, i.e., sexual agency, and not necessarily the victims, as some feminists are too quick to point out.  Overall, there has been a dramatic change from objectification to willing participants looking for their own pleasure.

This article is a departure from many studies on the portrayal of women in advertising as it places the female in a position of power where she has the upper hand--as opposed to the previous articles reviewed which might have made women feel more inferior.  There is a minor flaw in this article where the author may slightly mislead the reader with a reference to an autobiography by retired adult film star, Jenna Jameson.  She uses the phrase “self-help guide” in the same sentence where she mentions Jameson’s 2003 book, “How To Make Love Like A Porn Star.”  For those who read the novel, it is anything but a guide to romance.

Does this shift alleviate the dissatisfaction and alienation women (and some men) may feel about their own self-worth upon viewing body-centered advertisements?   This movement is not without costs.  Even though the women may no longer be as objectified in advertisements, they still appear flawless and unrealistically beautiful – most likely the product of starvation, Botox, and digital editing.

Dolby, Laura. "Pornography in Hungary: Ambiguity of the Female Image in a Time of Change." Journal of Popular Culture 29 (95): 119-127. Print.

The researcher in this study, Laura M. Dolby, explored the female image in Hungary. Before Hungary became a democratic state, it was a soviet controlled socialist government which outlawed any pornographic material. This absence of pornography and its portrayal of the female body as a visual product for male consumption was a benefit to the popular ideal of women being mothers and workers. Today, Hungary faces complex issues as a new democracy in regards to the female image in pornography. Hungary looked at the female body as a mechanism to bear children who will inherit national identity and increase the nation’s population. Conversely, pornography displays the female body as a sexual commodity circulated in the free market, for the most part, unchallenged by government censorship.

Laura reviewed pornographic magazines and interviewed locals in Hungary to gain data for her study. She suggests that although her figures are not necessarily accurate, she concludes that women view pornography as something that many men like and desire. She also found that women in general are looked at as erotic commodities which further establish a male dominated society. Ultimately, women are stripped from any individuality or self-governance due to the depiction of the female body as a masculine desire and the necessary mechanism required for the future of the nation.

This study hints at the way women are viewed in society and how pornographic material can further hinder women’s progress to equality. While pornography features all different types of material for consumers to indulge in, it is extremely male dominated in nature. The effects of pornography can also been seen in the way women dress and view their own bodies as being “normal” or whether or not they are “sexy” based upon the inaccurate portrayals seen in pornography.

Boden, Sharon. "Dedicated followers of fashion? The influence of popular culture on children's social identities." Media, Culture & Society 28.2 (2006): 289-298. Print.

Children in society today are consumers too! In this study, Sharon Boden examines the amount in which popular culture influences children with respect to fashion. She studies two aspects of popular culture, pop music and sports, and how they affect childhood identities. In sports, many icons wear certain logos and clothing that ultimately children will imitate. The same can be said about pop music, many children will imitate what their pop icon will wear in order to be like them. The whole concept of “fashion” and its portrayal within pop music and sports aspects of popular culture are a huge influence in defining a child’s social identity.

Sharon interviewed and observed different children to gain information for her study. Her results indicate that most children will imitate the pop icon that they idolize to become and look more like them. This can have negative effects, especially with younger girls who want to lose weight in order to be as skinny as their pop icons. Parents are looked to as the guardians and gatekeepers for their children in order to guide them in self-discovery.

This relates to our research by showing that all ages in society are influenced by pop culture. Children are especially vulnerable for they do not have the same life experience that older children or adults have. Eating disorders are becoming increasingly common among younger girls because of popular culture’s inaccurate portrayal of what is desirable and attractive in a woman or young girl.

Aubrey, J. (2007). The Impact of Sexually Objectifying Media Exposure on Negative Body Emotions and Sexual Self-Perceptions: Investigating the Mediating Role of Body Self-Consciousness. Mass Communication & Society, 10(1), 1-23.

This massive research article explores the role of body self-consciousness in dealing with the relationship between exposure to sexually objectifying media, such as television and magazines, and two other sets of criterion variables: negative body emotions and sexual dysfunction. Previous studies have shown that watching television and reading magazines that conform to the “thin ideal” (the idea that being incredibly thin is the most desirable) is related to problematic body perceptions, including dissatisfaction with one’s body, distortions of body image, and thin-ideal internalization. Studies have also been shown that the media a person is exposed to will mold their sexual attitudes, expectations, beliefs, and behaviors based on the content. This research further examines previous research by concluding that exposure to television and magazines which objectify bodies are related to an increase in an individual’s self-consciousness about their own appearance, as shown by the individuals closely monitoring their own bodies.

In order to obtain her research data, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey surveyed previous research articles as well as 384 undergraduates.  Both survey and experimental studies showed that body self-consciousness is related to an increase in body shame and body anxiety. Previous research based upon the objectification theory, which internalizes a viewer’s perspective as a primary view of their physical selves, was thought to be only applicable to women due to the cultural prejudice in favor of slenderness and attractiveness directed at women. The research in this article has shown that generalized body self-consciousness is not exclusive to only women, but men as well.

This study shows that both men and women face problematic issues regarding their body images when exposed to television and magazines. Most people today would probably agree with the findings of this study. Times have changed in regards to how men look at their own bodies in society. Muscle magazines and muscular actors in movies increasingly put pressures on men to want to look as good as the actors or models do. Although women still tend to face more problems with respect to objectifying their own body images, men are starting to even that out.

Phillips, Barabara. "Working Out: Consumers and the Culture of Exercise." Journal of Popular Culture 38.3 (2005): 525-551. Print.

This article explores the “culture” of exercise in North America. American consumers spend billions of dollars every year on dietary supplements, protein (whey), herbs, health club memberships, and more to try and improve the way they feel about themselves. Many mediating structures in society encourage this focus on exercise; people are constantly bombarded with images of fit and “healthy” people in movies, magazines, and television. The researcher in this article, Barbara Phillips, uses Frank’s typology to explain why individuals use their bodies to react to cultural forces. The research showed that many exercisers work out in order to feel better about their outer appearance. Health is usually not the major reason why someone chooses to exercise.

In order to obtain her data, Barbara reviewed previous research articles and interviewed six exercisers. She used open-ended questions while conducting her interviews so that participants could not only answer freely but also direct the interview to topics that the participant found of most interest. Responses obtained from the participants were compared with the characteristics of Frank’s typology for analysis. More research needs to be done to fully understand the interplay between individuals’ exercise identities, cultural messages about exercise, and the social context of exercise beliefs and behaviors.

This article was interesting in the fact that it looked qualitatively at a small group of individuals (six exercisers). This article shows how people who go to the gym regularly are primarily going to achieve inner or outer desires that have little to do with their health. Many people today view media that depicts “healthy” people as muscular and lean, causing many to always strive for perfection in their bodies. Men are also viewed in society as being stronger than women, not only in the gym but in sports as well. The women in this article further established this by admitting that they could never be as strong as men because they are women.

Railton, Diane. "The Gendered Carnival of Pop." Popular Music 20.3 (2001): 321-331. Print.

This article examines different issues and topics regarding today’s pop music. Today’s pop music is a lot different than it was in the decades before it. Today, boy bands like N-Sync and girl singers like Britney Spears create popular music to have a predominantly female audience. This new type of pop music poses a threat of the feminine, and of female encroachment into what is still predominantly and masculine and male world. The rock culture in the late 60’s and early 70’s was purely masculine. Women were marginalized by being denied their own mind and were reduced to only their bodies. Women were extremely sexualized and thought as unable to handle the intellectual sophistication of the music. If women tried to produce music, they were looked at as figures of fun. “In a world of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, women’s roles were to provide the sex”. In commercial pop music today, to be a woman is to be sexual. To be sexual and produce music that is purely commercial easily transforms into prostitution and commercial sex. Live performances of pop singers expose their bodies rather than protect them with instruments. They move around. They have performers dancing with them. They never remain in a stationary position. They perspire. Their bodies become sweaty. They become short of breath. Pop music performance is defined by its physicality more so than its music. Clothes worn by the pop stars are also very revealing, showing naval rings and tattoos. Their pictures in magazine articles are rarely mere headshots, but are full body shots, standing or lying with legs spread. This imagery translates down to the fans of the pop artists, who mirror the styles of their favorite artists. Pop music provides a short taste of freedom for young women, at a time when they feel as though they are at center stage, when the world is turned upside down.

In this article, Diane Railton, examines past popular music, present popular music, previous research articles, magazines, and live performances to obtain her data. Undergoing a study this large would require a lot of time and resources so the method of reviewing previous material was a great choice in order to obtain the information. While this article detailed many different ways in which men dominant society, that is also its weakness. This article is sometimes difficult to follow, but a great read nonetheless.

This article perfectly shows how pop culture affects the body images of younger women in our society. Young women today imitate their pop stars in the ways they dress and behave. It is ironic to look at pop music today and to believe that women are becoming more dominant in our society when how they perform for their audience is exactly what men want and have wanted of women.

Hall, Karen. "A Soldier's Body: GI Joe, Hasbro's Great American Hero, and the Symptoms of Empire." The Journal of Popular Culture 38.1 (2004): 34-54. Print.

This article details the evolution of the male “doll”, GI Joe, and how it became a popular boy toy. In much the same way that baby dolls worked to shape girls ideas about themselves and their bodies, GI Joe led boys to fashion themselves after the same mold GI Joe was cast in: militarized, masculinized, not of woman born but government issued. Boys were shown by GI Joe that to be masculine meant appearing to be strong, have no emotion, use weapons, and be muscular.

Karen J. Hall used previous findings to obtain her research for this article. It would have been interesting to see other methods of research, such as interviews or experimental studies to further explore GI Joe’s effect on the body images of young boys.

GI Joe was a very popular action figure for young boys growing up. It is interesting to point out that it is called an “action figure” and not a “doll” for obvious reasons. The GI Joe action figure showed young boys how they should look to appear masculine. This could lead to young men taking steroids later in life in order to appear as muscular as GI Joe.

Shelton, Maria L. (1997). Can't Touch This! Representations of the African American Female Body in Urban Rap Videos. Popular Music and Society, 21(3), 107-116.

Maria L. Shelton explores rap music videos and how they represent the African American female body. Women rappers who belong to the “gangsta” genre of rap music wear baggy jeans, work shirts, and winter jackets that hide the female body attributes while still being shown as having a strong physical presence. Women rappers in videos step out onto “gangsta streets”, entering a dangerous environment to obtain power; much like men do. Collaborations between female and man rap artists are beginning to excite the notions of heterosexual bliss.

Maria L. Shelton earned her Ph.D. in cinema-TV from the University of Southern California in 19971. This study was well suited for her due to her knowledge about the medium of media used. Using rap videos as data, she is able to show how “gangsta” rap videos have changed how women are represented in music videos.

Many music videos today display women as sex objects and wearing revealing clothing. Even while popular female rap artists talk about how independent women are, they fail to recognize why they still wear the revealing clothes and act sexually. They do all of those things because society is still largely controlled by men and men want what they are producing.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Cover to Cover


We all know that beauty standards have changed over time. Our (by our I mean American society) definition of beauty has gone from healthy looking women portrayed tastefully to sexy, near naked, very thin anorexic looking women. I have included some images from Vogue Magazine covers from 1932 when they used their first photo to their latest issue December 2009.

This is the evolution of Vogue:



July 1932:  First Vogue cover with a photograph    May 1940   August 1940






January 1945          September 1945         January 1950




October 1954         October 1960       May 1964




December 1965             July 1970         March 1971





January 1974     December 1974     November 1979


 
February 1980      December 1985     January 1987



December 1990   May 1991    October 1995



 July 1998      November 1999     March 2000



December 2001      March 2002      February  2004

 
May 2007        May 2008   December 2009: Current Issue


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Body Image & Sex in the Music Industry

              Very few topics in our society remain taboo today. The media often discusses and shows once controversial issues such as sex, racism, homosexuality, and rape. Probably the most prevalent of  these issues is sex, and directly related to sex: body image. The facts must be faced, in today's society sex is everywhere; whether it is the hip-swaying image of teenager Miley Cyrus in her music video "Party in the U.S.A, the lyrics to a song about threesomes, or the billboard of an upcoming new music artist, anorexic and scantily dressed posing in a suggestive position. The music industry is particularly sensitive to this type of advertising.
              So, it seems that in order to be successful in the music industry, particularly if you are a woman, one must use sex and one's body as a product before the music itself. Over the last few centuries women of the music industry have been viewed as sex symbols. The most well known sexual icon of music would be the king himself, Elvis Presley. Although there was initially an uproar of horror when he started to gyrate his hips to his music, this eventually boosted his career and led to millions of dollars into the music business as well as Presley's own pocket. Another example is the music artist Madonna, who in the 1980s brought sex to the forefront with her suggestive videos, lyrics, and stage performances. This pattern has continued throughout history, with the outfits becoming smaller and smaller, and the gestures and breasts larger and larger. It has been suggested that this continued objectification is the reason why the music industry has solidified the ideal female artist as having a very specific image: young, thin, sexy, and suggestive. This has carried over into our era where sexuality continues to be the focus of mainstream advertising for female artists today, so much so that the general population truly believes that this is now what is considered "normal."
              Advertising plays such a significant economic role in the music business because it is the path through which those in the industry sell their product, or artist. There are examples of this all over, such as suggestive images in commercials and billboards and less obviously, even the "controversy" about Taylor Swift's newest single being about her relationship with Joe Jonas. Further more, the suggestive lyrics of songs also paint a very particular image of one's body and behavior. Brittney Spears' new song "3" that is a song about having a threesome. Lyrics include "Living in sin/Is the new thing," obviously sending a very specific message to young listeners about the "right" way to behave, and Miley Cyrus's "All I see are stilletos/I guess I never got the memo" which actually calls out society on this expectation yet perpetuates it by the way she dresses in the video and on stage.

    Another example of the prevalence of sex and exploitation of an "ideal" body image in the music industry is through other types of media it takes advantage of such as television and the Internet. Ever since the late 1970s music videos have provided the industry with a new means of advertising and debuting new artists. In these music videos today, you often see artists dancing in very sexual ways, often times covered in mud or chocolate. What does mud or chocolate have to do with the melody, arrangement, or even the particular sound of the music? Nothing. It is purely a way for those in the music industry to lure potential fans toward their artist.
              Recent studies have found that because the music business has created this requirement for females to be sexual, it reinforces in both the artists' and the fans' heads that in order to succeed in the music industry one must rely almost entirely on their sexuality. However, cultural and societal differences do exist in what is considered sexual, mostly in the genres of the music. For instance, contemporary hit radio is now compromised of mainly pop and hip-hop music and it is very difficult to find a pop or hip-hop artist that does not use sexuality to enhance their appeal, often appearing half dressed in videos, or by being surrounded with half dressed dancers. For example, in pop and hip-hop, you often find women singing about sexual desires or secret pleasures such as the hit song "I Kissed a Girl (and I Liked it)" by artist Katy Perry.
              In the genre of country on the other hand, it is more acceptable for female artists to be slightly more conservative. This is because their targeted audience is compromised of mainly conservatives in midwestern states who has more old fashioned views. In fact, 67% of country music advertising contains sexual content, while 81% of contemporary hit radio advertising contains sexual content. It is important to note that in this study sexual content was defined as five things which were nudity, self touch, sexy clothing, sexual body positioning, and seductive facial expressions.
              The suggested reasons of why sex sells music so well goes back to the fact that it has been reinforced in out brains throughout decades. Furthermore, it is the fascination we have with sex because it has generally been considered forbidden and taboo. With men it is especially appealing as they are visually stimulated and become aroused at the image of some personal sexual fantasy whether it is just the image of a half dressed attractive girl or the image of two girls in a sexually suggestive position. Unfortunately, it does not seem that there is anything we can do about the prevalence of sex in the music industry, as well as society. It is the best way to sell everything from cars to burgers, to music.
              I personally chose to focus on music in my analysis of  body image and and sex in media because for me it is very close to home. Everything we have learned in this class so far has gotten me thinking a great deal about my own life. I am in an all girl rock band with my older sister. I play lead guitar and she is the singer. She is hell bent on making it in the music industry and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. She is not a very musically inclined person, but her marketing skills are very good, which usually makes us a good team. While I am mostly concerned about writing songs with strong melodic structures and uniquely interesting phrasing, she is all about writing songs with suggestive lyrics. For example, one of our songs that was written by her is called "Pretty Boy." The basic message of the song is saying that she sees an attractive male, who when approached is self-involved and not very intelligent, but does not care. Her hormones take over and despite the fact that she knows he is of little worth to her in the long run, she wants to have sex with him, or "wanna jump [him] all the time." Don't get me wrong, i LOOOOOVE our songs, but there is a very thin line between empowerment and exploitation of self.

              I still have the best time of my life performing our music though but now that we are progressing further than I ever thought possible, working with a producer and booking photoshoots, the issue of using sex to sell our music has come up quite often. I understand that to be successful in the music industry requires a certain amount of sexuality, but the amount of emphasis on it, to me, takes away from the integrity of the music. Even though our songs can be sexually suggestive, we use it as a form of feminism in that women can be just as sexual as men and should not be ashamed of it. But our image and stage shows seem to contradict this message because of the overuse of sexuality.





For proof visit our site: www.myspace.com/apocalipstickband (But don't tell my sister!!!) :)




            DISCLAIMER: Only read this part if you are interested. As this is a web blog, I took that fact as permission to rant, but the following is not necessarily related to the assignment: 


I don't want to advertise my band in a completely negative way. One of the techniques we try to use to bypass mainstream expectations is by hiding a deeper message within the seemingly superficial lyrics. For example, we have a song entitled "Let's Fight," that my sister introduces on stage as "The best part about fighting?! THE MAKE UP SEX!" The bridge is especially deceptive in this manner and personally makes me smirk everytime we perform it. The bridge is where the true emotion of the song comes into play, discussing insecurities about one's self and about how the person being sung about has helped the singer overcome them.


"You stripped down this tough girl armor/I'm naked/And I like it"



West, Diana. All That Trash, Public Interest. Washington:Summer 2004. Iss. 156, p. 131-135 (5 pp.)

Selling Sex to Radio Program Directors: A Content Analysis of Radio & Records Magazine
Emily E. Tanner-SmithDamian T. WilliamsDenise Nichols. Sex Roles. New York:May 2006. Vol. 54, Iss. 9-10, p. 675-686

Some Men Are Just Too Confident For Their Own Good....

So I am reading one of my last articles for my literature review, "The Impact of Media Exposure" which focuses on body image disturbances in men, when I had a thought.  I wanted to conduct a small, very unscientific survey (on one person, my husband) using the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine which has a cover story and pictorial of muscular teen actor and Twilight star, Taylor Lautner.

My 6'1" 160 lb. husband is sitting across the desk from me working and I hold up the magazine with the cover shot showing the young actor frolicking on the beach in dark jeans and a wet t-shirt that accentuates his well developed biceps and torso.

I ask my spouse, "When you see this picture, how do you feel about your body?  Comfortable?  OK?  Do you want to change something about your body?  Tell me how you feel after looking at this photo?  He answers, "No different, I feel OK."  Just to make sure, I ask him, "You don't want to change ANYTHING about yourself?" which he again verifies, "No."  I then flip to another, more revealing photo of the young actor where his chest is exposed and his well-toned, tanned, six-pack abs are on display.  Again, I ask my husband, "What about THIS picture?"  "No different," he says.  "I feel fine about my body, honey."

Grrrrr!  Part of me wanted him to feel just as bad as I do after I see Heidi Klum working the catwalk at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show six weeks after the birth of her fourth child while I'm still struggling to lose the baby weight from my last child--seven years ago!

Is it that this man is just blessed with confidence or is it that society has put more pressure on women to hold up the ideal image of beauty and attractiveness?

kcr
 
 
Rolling Stone Cover