Thoughts on Pop Culture and the Beauty Myth

1. In lieu of watching the film “Killing Us Softly 4” in class, I am asking you to watch it on your own as part of your homework and to help you with the assignment. After watching this film, browse some beauty/fashion magazines magazine for women &/or men (e.g., Cosmo, Glamour, Vogue, Maxim; GQ). Provide an analysis of 2 of its advertisements. Discuss and critically analyze its representation of women/gender relations utilizing feminist theory from class materials.

IMG_2983The first advertisement I chose to analyze is for Vigoss Jeans. The women is depicted laying on her side facing the camera with her legs fully spread open. The first thing that catches my eye in the photograph is the fact she is wearing a jacket with no shirt. This tactic is used as a sense of sex appeal. This kind of alluring mysterious idea of what is on under what a person is wearing. There is this quintessential fantasy of the women in a trench coat with nothing under. This advertisement is taking their own approach in regards to that fantasy. The next striking thing is the pose itself. The model’s facial expression is this gazing blank stare into the camera. She looks lifeless, almost like this doll you can easily control. In addition, The model’s legs are spread wide open implying a fairly obvious sexual connotation. It is almost as if there is a speech bubble above the model’s head saying, “I’m willing and ready to have sex with you”. To further the meaning of both her facial expression and body language she has rope around her ankles, loosely indicating she is caught in them. The implications of being submissive could not be more blunt than rope around the model leaving her completely passive. In addition, the rope tying of a female body is a common icon of BDSM Porn. I’m not completely against the porn industry as I think people like Sasha Grey make amazing points on the liberation it can serve for some women. However, BDSM porn is my opinion is awful with its degrading depiction of tying women up and letting men have sex with them. So in the end, the viewer isn’t thinking about this new jeans they want to buy but rather how sexy and alluring the model is.

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The second image I choose to analyze is also striking but in a very different way. This image isn’t exploiting women so much sexually as it is mentally. The women here is posed in a way that is unnatural to sit. Her chest is pushed outwards and her bum is pushed back so it creates this illusion that both these parts of her body are larger. It also creates this slimming and curvy body shape. Next, the expression on her face is as if she has just been caught in the act of doing something. She looks almost surprised or embarrassed she’s been caught. The reason for this facial expression is she is shown eating. On a deeper level, this advertisement is implying that a women should be embarrassed if found eating, like it is some big secret. However, there is this metaphor going on here since the women isn’t really eating food, but jewelry. Thus, the message becomes if one doesn’t eat they will be at the same status as these high fashion, jewelry encrusted models.

2. After reading Zeisler’s “Pop and Circumstance: Why Pop Culture Matters,” answer the following 2 questions: What’s your worst memory of women in pop culture? Explain. What’s your favorite pop culture moment ever? Explain.

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My worst memory in Pop culture is the Axe commercials. They bother me so much. They are constantly coming up with new advertisements where women are depicted as creatures that have no mind of their own and fall into a man’s spell the minute they smell their scent. I remember a more recent one where there was a female track race and one of the athletes was so star stuck by the referry that she didn’t move. It completely takes away the power of this female athlete. It is implying that she would so easily give up all her training just by looking at an attractive male. Other Axe commercials show women as native untamed tribal like people. However their is a constant pattern of women just falling all over men when they wear axe. In addition, I looked up an advertisement to back up these points and found probably the worst one I’ve seen yet. It is in a foreign language and I don’t have to even understand it to comprehend the universal theme. The implication is clearly if a man wears axe he has a free pass to have sex with a women. I seriously can’t grasp how Axe is able to get away with such blatantly horrible campaigns. This particular add is perfect example with how I’m able to understand it without even knowing what language it is in. Even worse is how successful the company is. So many men across the world buy axe, most likely because they are persuaded by their degrading advertisements.

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On the flip side, my favorite moment in pop culture has to be M.I.A’s song Bad Girls. I’m obsessed with her and this song. I think she is one of my biggest role models in life for multiple reasons. First she is female rapper, it take a lot of commitment to become as successful as she is the rap world for females. Second, she raps about female empowerment in this song, as well as many others. She’s the embodiment of a confident women in my opinion. Furthering that she’s a women of color, Sri Lankan to be specific. This culture particularly covers up their women and shames them for their appearance and she is the complete opposite of that. The last reason I admire her is because she is a mother and wife. She has not let the titles of being a mother and wife affect her goals what so ever. She sings about things that empower her and are a clear depiction of who she is. If I decide one day to be a wife and mother, I want to replicate the lifestyle she leads. The song Bad Girls to me is a great moment in pop culture with how successful it was. It is just as catchy as songs like “Blurred Lines”, yet talks about a subject that is empowering instead of degrading.

3. According to Naomi Wolf, what is the Beauty Myth? (be specific) What does it do? Do you agree with Naomi Wolf’s general argument? Explain.

The Beauty Myth is this concept that almost every single woman in the world has engraved in this head. It is this universal idea of what it means to be beautiful. It is extremely narrow minded and leaves a very minimal amount of room for diversity. However, it is important to note that like in the title, it is a myth. Not every women posses the same generic description of beauty. It is a horrible cycle because it degrades women who don’t fit the stereotype. I found Wolf’s argument about women’s priorities to be very interesting. She discusses how even though many women have become increasing successful in the world over the past few years, their mental mindset has almost taken a huge step backwards. Most women answer that their biggest goal is to loose at least ten pounds. We are constantly consumed with our physical appearance. I found this to be an extremely influential topic because even though I’m a very motivated and confident female myself, I constantly have on my mind how I’d love to loose five pounds. The Beauty myth almost hypnotizes people because many don’t even realize how influential it is on their lives. I think Wolf’s article shows how it even affects the powerful women in society. I completely agree with Wolf’s argument and I think that it is ridiculously scary. The main reason it is so damaging is the idea of beauty is constructed by the man’s eye. It creates this idea that a women’s purpose is to serve a man and live up to his standards. Sometimes for people that can become what their life is completely consumed by. For me personally, I can say that I’m not affected by it to a large degree. I have the ambitions of spending my life achieving the goals I set for myself following my own rules, and any man who respects that and wants to live besides me is welcome to. But even then I still occasionally beat myself up that i’m not gonna achieve the goals I want to because of a certain appearance.

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