Entries Tagged 'Media, Marketing and Advertising' ↓
April 26th, 2012 — Media, Marketing and Advertising, Toys & Games
The Internet is awash with controversy over whether a Ukrainian woman is a “natural” Barbie look-a-like.
Did she have plastic surgery or didn’t she?
Uh, who cares?
The more interesting question is why she wants to emulate an inanimate object — a plastic child’s toy?
To attract men? But, do little boys really grow up fantasizing about dating a woman who looks like Barbie? Little girls are the primary consumers of Barbie.
This woman does look like Barbie, but so does Hugh Hefner’s Harem of Barbies. At least these ex-girlfriends of that old porn codger have expressions and move like humans.
Frankly, I’m not sure I’m convinced that some jokester isn’t taking photos of a real Barbie doll in her Dream House and photoshopping backgrounds to make her look human-sized. Take that stupid blogosphere!
Let’s say this is, in fact, a real woman who is pretending to be Barbie. WHY?
Well, I’ve been having some feelings lately. You know those pesky annoyances that make men roll their eyes when you try to express them. Or even how annoyed you become when you’re pre-menstrual and you start to cry and keep crying throughout the day and you don’t even know why? Feelings are a real pain in the ass sometimes. Or when you get all irritated that your kids keep talking to you when you’re trying to do something and you really, really want to be the good mom who cares, but you also want them to shut up and quit whining and this makes you feel both irritated and guilty. Or that feeling when you really, really liked a guy and he never called and you wonder what you did wrong and you regret having any feelings about it, feeling weak or stupid for getting invested? Stupid feelings.
You know who doesn’t have feelings? Plastic toys. Barbie. She always has the same pursed lips and blank wide eyes, well, until a dog uses her face for a chew toy. She never has to worry about crying and ruining her mascara, she never has to worry about whether the guy is going to call after he rubs himself on her plastic androgynous groin, hoping not to pop off a leg at the swivel joint.
It’s probably very emotionally convenient to be a plastic doll.
And she’s not the only one. This is some big trend among girls on YouTube, imitating Barbie.
You know what this reminds me of? So Sexy So Soon, a fantastic book that came out in 2008. It was revolutionary in that it very effectively exposed out how advertisers and marketers use children’s sexuality and how, in fact, our sexuality becomes connected to and intertwined with objects they want to sell. They use all sorts of trickery to make us believe clothing, toys, sunglasses, purses and shoes or beer, tires, razors and tools are really sexy.
Evolutionarily, without these weird messages, humans are programed to believe that other humans are sexy. Weird, right? Humans hot for humans. Revolutionary!
Sexualization of objects appears to have been so effective that this woman believes she’s sexier as a plastic object than she is as a human. It’s the opposite of personification of objects. It’s plastification of humans. Hot.
Being human is so 20th Century.
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January 9th, 2012 — Body Image & Self Esteem, Media, Marketing and Advertising, Toys & Games
The blogosphere is confusing the hell out of me. Specifically the supposed advocacy blogosphere, which says it’s watching out for body image and female progress.
In previous years these advocates would argue that certain toy companies excluded girls from engineering type toys – maybe Lego for instance – by focusing on male narratives, often narratives that focused on violence and competition and conquer (Star Wars, Ninjas, Dinosaurs, Cars movie, Mind Storm, etc.). Certainly, one might argue, there was definitely room for Lego to make their product more inviting to girls. So they did.
And pro-girl advocates responded with a violent social media shit-storm that surely made their head spin.
We don’t need a “girl” Lego line. The line isn’t “smart” enough. Characters were beauticians wearing mini-skirts, sitting in hot tubs, drinking mojitos and this sells girls short. Did my friend Crystal – who is a beautician that wears mini skirts and sits in hot tubs drinking mojitos whenever possible – really sell herself short? I thought. Prior to this moment I had thought of her as a small business owner and artist who actually had a pretty rad life. Wait, I wear mini-skirts and so does Ainsley. We sit in hot tubs. We drink fancy drinks out of fancy glasses, mostly because it makes us feel fancy. What does this criticism say about us?
I guess the blogosphere was looking for the narrative to be more upscale, only narratives about women lawyers, doctors and corporate executives will be allowed. The “lowly” professions will now be considered “selling yourself short” for all girls no matter where their interests or skills lie. Only gay boys will be encouraged to be hair stylists from here on out and vacationing or relaxing, forget it. Is this where we’re headed?
Then we have the issue of body image. The blogosphere has been fighting women and girls being objectified by media and advertising. Namely posing models in sexualized poses that make them look like the entertainment. It’s degrading. It’s minimizing. It’s demoralizing. It dehumanizes us and it’s downright disrespectful. Right? Well, I guess that’s only if the girl or woman is emaciated and the blogosphere is jealous of her weight. I mean, that’s the only conclusion I can come to considering the accolades this photograph and article about plus-sized women being passed around by the exact same blogosphere that has been for years declaring that posing women like this is down-right wrong.
When I pointed out, on Facebook, that this was, in fact, a very popular pose in pornography I was told I was flat out wrong and they just didn’t see this at all.
Seriously? You don’t see that this woman is bent in half with her bottom and vag. exposed, ready to take it from behind, with her face to her knees (making her essentially faceless to her lover), except that it’s looking directly into the camera for the viewers’ benefit with a giant smile that says “I’m having a GREAT time in this completely unnatural and weird pose!” with her childish braid hanging to the ground, juxtaposed next to her super high heals?
Have I gone mad? Am I the only one who sees all the markings of pornography or has this woman’s size 8 thighs blinded everyone? I mean, plus-sized women hang out like this all the time, right? Folded in half exposing their asses for easy access in little girl braids and three-inch stilettos – that’s the cultural definition of “sexy” we’ve all agreed on and fat girls are “sexy” too damn it! Imagine if she was an emaciated girl. Then it’s objectification of women? Imagine if it’s a man. Then it’s just gross?
I thought plus-sized women were shooting higher than wanting to be included in being objectified by the media and in advertising. I thought they might want to get out of this cultural insanity with their dignity in tact. But, “this is art” I was told. Unlike all the other times when it’s just the media and advertising objectifying and sexualizing women and girls.
My mistake. This is progress. I guess?
I’m just not sure where the hell all this progress is going anymore.
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December 6th, 2011 — Family Life, Media, Marketing and Advertising
Somewhere out there I know there’s a mother or father who is feeling guilty this Christmas season. There are lots of reasons for feeling guilty around the holidays. “I can’t afford to buy my kids exactly what they want,” and “I bought my kids exactly what they want and I can’t afford it” are two of the most popular guiltfests.
As usual, I’m willing to expose myself and our way-of-life to make you feel better (whether it makes you feel rich or like at you have a sister frugal friend) and remember it’s not too late to return that ridiculously expensive X-Box 360.
This year, most of what my kids are getting is used. Actually, that’s true of every year. I can afford to get them more of what they want if I buy it on Craig’s List. Last year I scored a Nintendo Wii for $100!
Ainsley is getting: fabulous Columbia winter coat with matching gloves, $20; gorgeous lavender formal dress, $5; several books, all used; several pairs of really nice expensive brand shoes, all used; a brand new pair of boots, $20; a brand new pair of monkey pajamas and a very nice digital camera I got on Amazon’s Black Friday sale.
Zack is getting: an awesome new yellow and black bike, $25 used; a Ninendo DS w/ 3 games, used $55; several pairs of expensive brand shoes, all used; five pairs of Old Navy jeans, new $10 each; several books, all used; shirts and pants, used; and a brand new pair of monkey pajamas.
They will share the year’s worth of canvas and art paper I scored at Michael’s Black Friday Sale.
We could spend all our money on lavish gifts for our kids. But, we have other financial goals that we want to keep knocking out as 2011 closes and 2012 revs up: pay off our cars, eliminate credit card debt and save for a vacation. We’ve been there and done that and realized there’s no joy in Christmas if we’re still paying it off next September.
So, if it seems like everyone in the world is spending $1,000 on their kids this Christmas, except you. They aren’t.
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October 26th, 2011 — Body Image & Self Esteem, Media, Marketing and Advertising
Angelina, "the most beautiful woman in the world" with her daughters
The Internet is inundated with criticism about media’s responsibility for girls and women’s body image these days. With the proposed Self Esteem Act, which demands responsibility of both government and media, and well-meaning, do-gooding, activist, pro-girl and pro-woman websites and non-profit organizations sprouting up like spring flowers all over the web.
I have to say I don’t like the tone of the general conversation. I also have to cop to having participated quite extensively in the things that I now see as a major misperception in the conversation. So, first I’ll say there is a place in the conversation for many perspectives and my former perspective came from a pure place of helping and it was how I genuinely felt at the time. I know it is coming from a pure place in the other pro-female, girl empowerment, positive body image websites as well. Many, many of these women and organizations do great work and help a great many people on their path to a positive body image.
Still, I have an issue with the direction in which the conversation is going. Let me explain my perspective.
It is disempowering to hand over so much power to media, advertising, marketing and corporations. Corporations and Photoshopped advertising do not have the power to decide or influence how I feel about my body. Because I have not handed my power over to them. I do not look at pretty photos of other skinny girls and women and think, “I am ugly because I don’t look like her.” That does not serve me. I’m perfectly happy with what I’ve got to work with. I have a positive body image. Because I choose to.
Definition: Body Image is how you feel about your body.
Thus, it follows that body image is in only YOUR control. You’re the only one who has any power whatsoever to change it or influence it or focus on it or feel good about it or trash it in front of the mirror. These are choices you are making.
I’m reading statements that are ultimately disempowering to women and girls because they set women and girls up for inevitable failure. I’ll keep the statements anonymous because my intention is not to call out any one particular group.
“Marie Claire asks its readers: “what will it take for you to love yourbody?” Uhhhh I don’t want to be a downer, Marie Claire, but it will probably involve magazines like yours getting rid of super-photoshopped models/ads and “GET YR BODY BIKINI READY” and “FREEZE YOUR FAT OFF” headlines, just sayin’. Does this seem disingenuous to anyone else?”
The reason this is disempowering is that it ultimately sets girls and women up for successfully feeling good about themselves only if “magazines like yours get rid of super-photoshopped models/ads and various body-negative headlines.” Which is a fine and dandy dream but — IT IS NEVER EVER GOING TO HAPPEN. This is the United States of America and Marie Claire makes money off these body-negative headlines and images and they have a Constitutional right to do it. Congress is not going to change this. The President is not going to change this. We believe in Freedom of Speech and advertising and media is a form of that First Amendment. They will continue to use negative body talk and edited Photography until it stops making them money, so indefinitely. Screaming into the Universe about the unfairness and wrongness of this may feel good, but it is essentially futile. Let’s say Marie Claire suddenly decides it can make more by going body positive — fine, then there’s still Cosmo, Cosmo Girl, People, tabloids, Glamour and on and on.
Fundamentally, women are responsible for the existence of these magazines and this type of advertising. Men don’t choose to buy these magazines or the products that have been sexualize, but targeted to women and girls. Women do. One has to wonder, if it makes them feel so damn bad about themselves, why they keep buying these rags? But the tragic fact remains that they do and that’s the sole reason that these magazines continue with this strategy. If women stop buying, they will change and not a minute before.
Because the drastic altering of American capitalism that women and girl advocates are demanding and dreaming of is never going to happen, and you’ve just declared that you can’t feel good about your body — and girls in general can’t feel good about their bodies — without this condition being met by entities entirely out of our control, you’ve just handed your power over the feelings about your own body to corporate America. “Here you go, you can control how I feel about me indefinitely and I’ll just keep screaming about how unfair it is,” is the true message. It’s powerless. It’s destructive. Handing over responsibility for one’s feelings or believing you have control over another’s feelings is a false believe and it sets girls and women up for all sorts of relationship disfunction, abuse, coercion, drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, poor self esteem, negative body image and bad choices. This is one of the core issues I deal with in Love Distortion: Belle, Battered Codependent and Other Love Stories.
“Standards of beauty have always existed. Beauty will continue to exist. It’s not beauty that’s the problem. It’s our commercialized culture’s obsession with peddling a narrow, one-dimensional and unrealistic image beauty that is used as the sole measure of a woman’s worth that torments and teases girls + women into reducing their aspirations + goals to a dress size or numbers on a scale.”
This is another comment that disempowers women and girls because it hands our own personal power, a completely integral power innate to each individual, to “commercialized culture’s obsession with peddling a narrow, one-dimensional and unrealistic image beauty that is used as the sole measure of a woman’s worth that torments and . . . yada yada yada”
Really? In your everyday life are you looking at magazines and advertising and deciding that your worth is about one-dimensional beauty? Does looking at magazines, Internet and television really torment you and change the way you feel about your body and make you decide that you can’t be a lawyer, doctor or scientist? Really? Goodness, perhaps you should tune in to Oprah’s Lifeclass and figure out how to resolve these issues. I find the whole idea that media has this kind of power over our individual feelings about ourselves extremely disempowering and very minimizing to the authentic and powerful tenacity of girls and women.
Tracee & Ainsley, the two most beautiful women in our world
I also find it extremely removed from my reality and my daughter’s reality. Extremely removed from the reality of every woman I’ve ever met, truly. My daughter doesn’t feel one-dimensional because Hannah Montana and Demi Lovato are pretty and Photoshopped in magazines. Nor does has she decided she’ll just be a shop clerk because she saw too many minimizing Photoshopped photos of pretty, thin girls. These things don’t torment and tease her. They don’t torment and tease me.
Why? Because we aren’t defining ourselves from the outside. We are defining ourselves from the inside. If a person defines themselves from the outside they are screwed, tossed around by every person’s opinion, every fad or trend, every marketing ploy. That is something women and girls, humans in general, need to work on. Self image an inside job. It’s difficult work, fraught with confronting the ego, but no one else can do it for you.
My daughter and I are filtering craptastic media out of our lives so they have little influence, that’s huge. (Girl and women advocates are saturating themselves in the worst of it and it’s skewing their perception of the issue.) My daughter and I are deciding that it feels better to accept a compliment as truth instead of refusing one out of false modesty. We are choosing to accept our bodies and choosing to treat them kindly. We are not handing our individual power to feel great about who we are and what we look like to anyone else, especially not the soulless media.
To do such a thing is well, quite simply, stupid. Don’t you want to keep the power over how you feel about your body and who you are for yourself? As your personal domain? Because, guess what? You have complete and total dominion over your own self esteem and body image and it’s not that complicated, it’s not rocket science. Most of it, almost all of it, is just habit. You either build self esteem-building habits or self esteem-destroying habits. You choose. Because its yours. It doesn’t belong to the media and it never will. You Choose.
To be clear, women and girls have every right and obligation to stand up to advertising that diminishes and sexualizes women and girls, reducing them to objects. It is intentional and it’s not fair and it is wrong. But, I’m a big believer in language. God created the entire Universe with words. They are enormously powerful. There is a world of difference between saying “I don’t like your advertising and I’m not going to buy your product and I’m going to flex my considerable muscles to influence as many people as I can to join me in not buying your product until your advertising improves,” than saying “I can’t feel good, and girls in general can’t feel good, unless you change your advertising.” The first statement is powerful and it will make a difference with enough powerful women’s and girl’s positive energy behind it. The second statement is so disempowering it can only increase poor body image.
Lastly, on a Spiritual note: that which you focus on expands. It’s a Universal Spiritual Law. Maybe its time to reevaluate what you really want to expand in this great Universe of ours.
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October 18th, 2011 — Body Image & Self Esteem, Media, Marketing and Advertising, Politics & Legislation
This is not real beauty. The photographs you see in magazines, on television, on the Internet and on billboards have been Photoshopped and touched up.
The real people in them don’t look like this at all. All of their flaws have been removed to project an illusion of perfection. They are not perfect.
It’s fake. Don’t be fooled. In real life they have acne and cellulite and pudgy places and bad hair days and real problems just like everyone else.”
— excerpted from Ainsley, Wonder Years, By Tracee Sioux
This is real beauty. You have been blessed. What you see in the mirror is real. Other people will notice you. Beauty is an asset that will provide you with opportunities. Be grateful for it, but realize that it’s not your only asset.
You were also blessed with brains, intelligence, a sense of humor, creativity, a thirst for knowledge, kindness, love, compassion and many other unique gifts. These assets will provide you with more opportunities as you pursue your ambitions and passions.
Confidence is sexy. Brilliance is sexy. Intelligence is sexy. A sense of humor is sexy. Knowing who you are is sexy. Being comfortable in your own skin is sexy.
—excerpted from Ainsley, Wonder Years by Tracee Sioux
Evidently, I am the only girl advocate on the Internet who thinks the Self Esteem Act, which is supposedly going to make its way to Congress is a stupid waste of time. The Self Esteem Act is a “truth in advertising act,” a bill attempting to force advertisers to put a tiny little sentence admitting they use Photoshop on photographs in advertising — which is also somehow going to “save girls’ self esteem.” Google it. Everyone is simply head-over-heals crazy in love with this idea. It’s supposedly going to make such an impact on how girls feel about themselves and prevent eating disorders and solve all these body issues that the media causes with their evil ways of making women look too thin and too pretty (and girls are too stupid to be aware of Photoshop you know).
Personally, I think it’s going to cost a great deal of effort and have no impact at all. Let me explain why.
- The government is not responsible for the self esteem of anyone. Period.
- Media, marketing, advertisers and corporations are not responsible for the self esteem of anyone either. Period.
- You and only you are responsible for your own personal self esteem. Your mother is not responsible. Your husband is not responsible. Your boyfriend is not responsible. Your best friend is not responsible. Body Image is the relationship you have with your body and your image in the mirror. Self esteem is the relationship you have with who you are. It is your responsibility alone. If it brings you pain, then you bring your own pain. If it brings you joy, then you bring your own joy. Deal with it, either way.
- Maybe you’ve noticed, but no one in Congress can agree on a single thing. What in the world makes you think they are all going to huddle up and say, “Oh the girls. Yeah, we won’t force corporations to give women equal pay, but let’s force these same corporations to put a tiny disclaimer on their advertising copping to using Photoshop. Why didn’t we think of that Ladies?”
- There are bigger fish to fry in this country right now. In other words, I personally, and a lot of unemployed Americans might agree with me here, believe there are a lot more important issues that Congress should focus on — unemployment and job creation, tax equality, a world economy on the brink of collapse, hundreds of thousands of mortgages that are underwater or in foreclosure, people drowning in debt. You know, things a tad more significant than whether you’re looking in the mirror and saying, “I hate my thighs,” no matter how many times I’ve advised you to stop doing that.
- As Tina Fey says in her brilliant book, Bossy Pants, no one under 80 doesn’t know that advertising is Photoshopped. In fact, tweens and teenagers are better at using Photoshop than Photoshop artists employed by magazines. Why do people presume that kids are idiots who don’t understand computers? They come out of the womb Internet Savy. It is WE who find this shit shocking and have to wrap our brains around it, not them.
There are actually things that DO work that take a lot less effort than trying to get Congress to pass a lame bill that’s never going to make a dent in anyone’s self esteem.
- MOM — Mothers have, and will always have the biggest influence on their daughters. Don’t believe me — try to get your mother’s voice out of your head. I’m 38 and have been unable to accomplish this. If you’re 60 or 80 you have been unable to accomplish this. So, make good use of it. Tell your daughter she’s beautiful. Tell her she’s got a great body.
- If you’re a mother, make peace with your own body and get a self esteem. Nothing, but nothing is going to replace this. Not a bill. Not a law. Nothing. Grow a Self Esteem.
- Make it against the rules to talk badly about your own body. My kid gets in trouble if she calls her brother a name. Likewise, she gets in trouble if she calls herself a name. We don’t call names here. Period. We don’t “feed” negative body talk with a bunch of B.S. sympathy either, “oh poor baby why do you feel badly about yourself?” If it’s something we can fix, we fix it. If it’s not, we tell her it’s perfect the way it is, and that it’s simply not okay to bash yourself. Period.
- Tina Fey, again in Bossy Pants, recommends we embrace Photoshop because it’s here to stay and it’s better than plastic surgery and we should simply add a credit like a photo credit to the work. Photographed by, Tracee Sioux. Photoshopped by, Tracee Sioux. This is free and doesn’t involve Congress and serves exactly the same purpose as the Self Esteem Act.
- Dove’s viral videos, Campaign for Real Beauty were genius. They were targeted to women. They should target some to girls. Publish them where tweens and teens hang out on the Internet.
- If all the non-profit organizations that are gaga for this Self Esteem Act pooled their resources they could make Public Service Announcements informing girls about Photoshop and educate them about self esteem. Run them during iCarly and Gossip Girl, thus reaching their actual target audience. This would actually be effective instead of wasting their time and energy on something futile.
- Church youth groups, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, 4H, and other organizations need to address the issue of healthy body image and will do a better job of it than a tiny sentence on some ads that kids will never read.
- School Boards should make sure healthy body image and media education is in the health class curriculum. Parents and girl advocate groups should make sure School Boards do this. Cause that’s how the system works.
- Parents or grandparents can write their daughters a book or just tell them about beauty and sexiness and Photoshop and what it is and isn’t. Novel concept, I know.
The bottom line is — the media, advertising and marketing by major corporations only have as much power as we are willing to hand over to it. We have the power to filter a great deal of it out for ourselves and our kids. We also have the power to keep the Allmighty Dollar in our pocket — and that, my friends is the biggest weapon there is against the corporate marketing machine. A Self Esteem Bill isn’t going to replace that.
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