Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Finally! The Look I've Always Wanted!

I recently had a project for my design class where I had to develop a visual campaign for a social action cause that would appear in a public place. Our topics of choice included Energy and Environment, Hunger and Plenty, and Youth and Opportunity. Of course everyone interpreted these concepts very loosely, and there was some really good work (and some so-so work) presented.

Anyway, having been a teacher for 3 years I decided to go with familiar territory, but to promote ideas I was never allowed to touch working in the public school system. I developed a media literacy campaign targeting teenage girls, challenging them to question representations of the female body in the media. I had a few initial designs that all dealt with issues like plastic surgery, eating disorders and unrealistic and unattainable body types. But none of these original designs really isolated media representations as a specific trigger for poor body image.

I settled with a design where my process itself was inspired by a particular medium that I find needs careful speculation when it comes to studying representations of the female body. While there are plenty of media to be held under fire for creating body image issues, the women's magazine must be carefully deconstructed because unrealistic interpretations of the female body are cloaked in a guise of female empowerment. In such periodicals, power is more often than not equated with beauty, sex and fashion.

During my research, I bought a couple teen magazines to see the sorts of images that were featured, so i could get a sense of what techniques advertisers use to lure the teenage eye. I found a lot of fun and playful images, but what I also found were a lot of cosmetics. When I went back through one of the magazines and counted, there were approximately sixty different products advertised or “suggested” within the context of beauty articles. Aside from an article about whether or not you could “catch” an eating disorder from a friend and a feature about a girl who overcame a tragic accident, I couldn’t find many mentions of how to be a confident woman in ways that don’t involve the way one looks. Seeing this onslaught of beauty products inspired my “Look I’ve Always Wanted” piece.

So the following is my final submission for my class. The photoshopping took countless hours, but in the end, I'm very happy with my project, and like to imagine it hanging in a bus stop. What do you think?


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