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Premium member Presentation Transcript The Subliminal Body: The Unconscious Standards of Appearance: The Subliminal Body: The Unconscious Standards of Appearance A P hoto E ssay by Jen SmedleyStatement of the Artist: Statement of the Artist Naomi Wolf describes society’s obsession with and misleading ideas of beauty as the “beauty myth.” This myth controls women and allows male dominance; it controls their actions and their decisions. Women can’t avoid the messages and sometimes don’t even know that they’re bending to the standards. Wolf compares beauty to a currency system (121), and it is this system that women have to live up to. As a result, women bow down to the material ideals of the beauty myth. The figure of the body plays a large role in the beauty myth. As times have changed, the image of the ideal female body has changed. Society has been brainwashed by the idea of the unrealistically thin feminine body. There are many subliminal messages in everyday occurrences, especially within the media. Wolf says, “And the unconscious hallucination grows ever more influential and pervasive…” (124). Through images and words, society’s intention is to evoke feelings of self-doubt, and the system of the beauty myth is created. This photo essay will demonstrate some examples of how seemingly “harmless” images and advertisements can trick women into believing the beauty myth and therefore doubting the beauty of each individual body. “The Beauty Myth” by Naomi WolfSlide 3: It starts by reading a magazine, turning on the television or the radio, walking down the street, driving by a bus, driving by a billboard, or opening a newspaper. The magazine shown above is Shape .Slide 4: This advertisement was found in the April 2011 issue of Redbook Magazine . This is an advertisement for a spray that takes away hunger to promote weight loss. Below is a zoomed-in piece of the ad that describes what the product does. In a time where we already think that we’re too fat, now the message to women is that hunger is a bad thing and that if you feel hungry, you are failing.Slide 5: “Give the girls a boost” Society is obsessed with breasts – and the media does a wonderful job with telling women exactly what their breasts should look like and how big they should be. This is the storefront window of Lane Bryant. Because of advertisements like this one, many women reshape or resize their breasts through expensive surgery to match the subliminal standard-boob.Slide 6: This shoe advertisement, found in the January 2011 issue of PEOPLE Magazine (and in other magazines, including Cosmopolitan ), seems to be body-image positive at first with the message of “love your booty.” HOWEVER…Slide 7: If you look at the writing below the picture… The small caption describes many things. This advertisement subliminally sends the message that the way you look (the shape of your body) is more important than your brain, your personality, or your individuality. The idea of the “bottom half being the better half” is a devaluation of females and sends the message to make conforming to the standards of appearance a priority. This is a subliminal way of telling females to “look more like this – and nothing else is important.” “Make your bottom half your better half!”Slide 8: This is a typical layout of a lingerie store. This specific store is Victoria’s Secret , which is a huge brand name in the lingerie industry. The small size and sexualization of mannequins, like these here, are subliminal ways of demonstrating how females “should” look and act. Does the body type of mannequins adequately represent the size of the average woman?Slide 9: This poster is an advertisement for South Padre Island, a popular vacation spot. The writing below the picture states: “Stop staring and take her picture.” This advertisement is another display of the female body. By focusing on a particular body part, we are reminded that conforming to the beauty standards is considered more important than individuality. This is how women are “supposed to look.” Not only is this another example of the “perfect female body”, but also the bar code on the woman’s back is a reminder that women are often considered as objects that are owned.Slide 10: The diet industry goes hand-in-hand with the plastic surgery industry. Crash diets and diet pills systemically correspond with negative body image.Introducing your new skin and a thinner you. (Because you’re not good enough the way you are).: Introducing your new skin and a thinner you. (Because you’re not good enough the way you are).Interview: Interview The following slides are of an interview conducted with Lynndi Lockenour . Lynndi Sue Lockenour obtained her B.A. in Journalism from Indiana University, with a Second Concentration in Gender Studies and a minor in Psychology in 2006. She is currently a second-year graduate student in the Community Counseling Department at the University of Missouri St. Louis, where she hopes to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), specializing in Female Empowerment and working with LGBTQI clients.Q: How do you feel women are represented in the media?: Q: How do you feel women are represented in the media? A: Well, I think that depends on what type of media we are discussing, but let’s say for example that media includes mass-produced images: things like print advertisements in magazines, billboards, and television commercials as well as movies, television shows and cartoons. Advertising in general routinely and systematically uses women as objects to sell random items, often which have little or nothing to do with the product itself. In these ads the women are typically displayed as sexual objects, only valuable because of physical characteristics. In the case of print media and billboards, women’s bodies are often dismembered, where only a portion of the body...say the breasts, arms or legs are used to sell a product. This type of dismemberment is a visual reminder of the larger societal message we receive as women which is that we are nothing more than those parts and if our parts don’t look like the parts of the women in these ads, then we are somehow less than. (Continued on next slide)(Continued): (Continued) A: (Continued from previous) As it pertains to images such as cartoons, like Disney, which are viewed by hundreds of thousands of young girls ever year, these same types of images persist. Princesses like Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Jasmine (from Aladdin) all have similar body types that promote small waists, large breasts (sometimes to the point of impossibility) and a flawless, youthful face. Not only does it teach little girls that this is what they should desire to be, but it also reinforces the idea for little boys that this is what “real” women look like, a myth we all know not to be true. In addition to the illustrations of the female characters, most of the story lines presented in Disney movies encourage girls to follow men no matter the cost, to be punished and even take abuse in some cases (like in Beauty and the Beast), believing all the while that no matter the cost, the end result of “Happily Ever After” with the prince is worth it no matter what the female character has to give up in return.Slide 15: A: In the media women are encouraged to flaunt their sexuality (so long as they are thin) and use their bodies to get what they want in the world. As for the fashion and modeling industries, they continue to perpetuate an impossible standard of beauty that we statistically know only 3 to 5 percent of women in the United States can attain. The average American woman is between 5’2” and 5’5” and somewhere between a size 12 and size 16. Yet, the standard in the fashion industry for models is a size 0 or size 2. Designers continue to create clothing for women who are 5’9” minimum and have virtually no figure to speak of unless it comes from some form of cosmetic surgery. Many clothing stores continue to order more of the smaller sizes, despite the fact that most women wear size 10-18. This leads to feelings of inadequacy when women repeatedly go into clothing stores and cannot find the sizes which fit their bodies. Instead of seeing the fashion industry as the ones to blame, most women internalize that experience and blame themselves instead for not being thinner. Q: What are some ways in which you've noticed body image being portrayed in the media? What about in the fashion industry and the modeling industry?Q: What are some messages that advertisements send to women in the United States?: Q: What are some messages that advertisements send to women in the United States? A: Ads in the U.S. typically send an exclusively negative message to women about their bodies, a message that if they are not within the limits set by the fashion industry and media as a whole, then they should hate not only their bodies, but themselves, and spend countless hours working to “correct” their size, even if it leads to increased unhappiness, depression and negative self-worth. Ads also normalize violence against women by showing them in submissive and sometimes sexually suggestive poses, as though the female body is only valuable when used in the context of sex. In fact some ads go so far as to encourage this type of behavior and treatment of women. Additionally, female bodies, or parts of them, are used to sell everything from razor blades to beer. This systematic dismemberment of the female body to sell a product sends a message to viewers about the woman who was cut apart to make the advertisement. Often she is just a pair of breasts, a set of legs, or a smiling face...a body part, but not a person who has feelings, a soul and most importantly a voice.Q: And lastly, do you feel that these messages are subliminal? Do you think our idea of the female body is distorted by unconscious messages?: Q: And lastly, do you feel that these messages are subliminal? Do you think our idea of the female body is distorted by unconscious messages? A: I think the majority of the images are subliminal to the extent that we get so used to seeing women represented as a specific size, shape, color, etc. that when a woman doesn’t fit those criteria (say she is bigger than what we normally see), we immediately recognize her as abnormal, when the reality is that she likely more accurately reflects the way most American women look. Yes, I absolutely believe that over time the continued viewing of distorted female bodies shapes the way young women begin to view their own bodies and the bodies of other women. But when we are filtering these sexy images of impossible body types into something as basic as children’s cartoons and films, then it’s no wonder that eating disorders continue to appear among girls at younger and younger ages. Hating our bodies is normalized not only through media, but also because little girls often grow up hearing their own mothers and female family members critique their own bodies and the bodies of other women.Conclusion: Conclusion When making this photo essay, I found myself in a difficult situation. It took me by surprise. When I was flipping through a magazine, I found myself thinking, why are there no pictures of women my size? Why are there no pictures of women with bigger breasts, wider hips, larger waists? Are women with my body shape and size just that rare? Are we not normal? I had to take a moment to reassure myself that magazines systemically use women of this size even though they are below the average size. I had to tell myself that there were more women out there that are my size than there are the size of models. We are not the minority. In searching for ads to use, I found myself being sucked in by the subliminal messages of media. And like all girls (especially at young ages), I started to believe them. We encounter messages from the media every day. There is no way to avoid it. The body type hysteria affects confidence and self-worth in order to make a profit. This is the essence of Wolf’s “beauty myth.” It’s real and continues to grow. It makes women less confident and men more dominant. It makes women more doubtful and men more powerful. Being skinny enough or pretty enough is exactly what keeps our society at a patriarchal standpoint. The future is unclear; there’s a huge possibility that women will continue to follow the media and the beauty myth will continue to dominate. Unless we take the radical perspective and rebuild a media system that does not intend to reduce our self-esteem, a future of self-confidence may be possible. Until then, we’ll continue to destroy ourselves physically and psychologically.Slide 19: With Special Thanks To: Lynndi Lockenour – Thank you for providing your expertise on this huge issue that continues to be a major concern and a struggle of my own. Amber Nixon – Thank you for being a wonderful model. Dr. Brooke Campbell – Thank you for introducing me to the idea of the beauty myth. You do not have the permission to view this presentation. In order to view it, please contact the author of the presentation.