The Point Five Project

An exploration of how makeup and the media affect our self perception

How the Pursuit of Perfection Actually Confiscates Our Individuality

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Comparison is the ultimate enemy of the ability to wake up every day and love yourself. It’s a universal truth that Irealized a lot later than I wish I could have. I have ALWAYS looked at other people and wished I could look more like them instead of what I saw in the mirror every morning. It began when I was so young that I can’t even pinpoint when it started. I am the queen of perfectionism and what I am was never quite good enough. I used to spend hours upon hours in front of the mirror mentally tearing myself apart for every flaw I saw. In comparison to the beautiful girls in magazines or on the street I was simply…average. Eventually it got to the point where all I saw about myself were things that I wanted to change.  I don’t think I realized the lie I was allowing myself to believe until I saw a before and after photo of a well-known celebrity on the internet. This image had taken all of the elements that make her real and relatable and stripped her down to a mere shadow of who she really is. Seeing those images made me realize that no matter how much makeup and editing Photoshop may add to an image, in the process it takes away the things that make us truly beautiful. Even though I don’t have a team of makeup designers and  a closet of expensive garments at my disposal, I am worthy of loving myself  because I am loyal, spunky, hard-working and strong. For me, that is more than enough.

- Rebekah

Princess Culture vs. Female Role Models

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Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here! Do you remember those days back in elementary school when you got to dress up like an influential or historic figure and do a report on your person of choice?  It was like the second-coming of Halloween, only they were tricking you into doing school work for no pay (candy)! Today I would like to introduce you to the my hero and role model from when I was growing up, the incredible Jane Goodall.  I still remember strapping a plush money onto my arm and gearing up in my very best safari outfit to talk about this conservationist and chimpanzee expert.  At the time, my dream was to grow up and be some sort of naturalist, to travel the world studying animals, just like Jane. At the time it didn’t matter to me what Jane looked like, she could have been bald, with a missing eye and no teeth and it wouldn’t have made one bit of difference to me – her actions and accomplishments were all that mattered in my eyes.

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Recently I came across the works of artist David Trumble, illustrating influential women who have been put through a complete princessification, including “Jungle Princess” Jane.  It had been a long time since I had last thought of Miss Goodall and I was surprised by this busty, glittery counterpart to my childhood idol.  Thankfully these drawings are all a satirical statement by the artist to argue that influential woman and role modes can not/should not be fit into the princess mould.  However, in a society where infotainment rules, and the lines between sexy and relevancy are blurred, I almost expected these characters to be part of some new toy series straight from the pages of a Toys R’ Us catalogue.

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This got me thinking back to those day when both Disney’s Cinderella and Jane Goodall were simultaneously powerful inspirations to my childhood dreams.  Jane never had to have a mini waist or long legs to impress me though, she was a straight up boss all on her own – regardless of flaws, wrinkles, or grey hair. Somewhere along the way that message has been lost though.  Toys and media today seem to scream that big boobs, princess pink, and glamourous gowns are the only ways to capture the attention of today’s young ladies. Growing up all my mom wanted was a set of Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys, yet woman were expected to be homemakers and secretaries.  Today women are told they can be engineers and CEOs, yet the toy shelves are lined with dolls laced up in corsets, complete with 6-inch pumps.

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While women’s influence and power grows, it seems the dolls and toys of the future have taken a step backwards.  These dolls look like the beginnings of some sex scene in a period drama on cable, not a toy for an 8 year old. Little girls don’t need their role models to look like Megan Fox for them to be relevant, inspiring, and heroic.  Women like Jane Goodall, Rosa Parks, and Gloria Steinem continue to serve as heroes to young women in today’s landscape so why reinvent the wheel?  Progress is good, but I digress in this case.  Why disempower the potential for the creation of new female role models by forcing them into the princess standard where appearance is equated to power?

Until next time stay terribly beautiful.

 

The Latest in the Point Five Project – An Empowering Statement

Ola

It feels incredibly weird to be in front of the camera rather than behind it because I’ve been a photographer since the time I was 13 years old. I remember being enchanted by the wonderful photos I would see plastered all over blog pages of gorgeous, svelte girls with flawless faces. The conceptual shots were the ones that spoke most to me, and I came up with my own concepts that I knew needed illustration, so I picked up a camera and went out to the world. I’ve been photoshopping since 13 too, so even though I know just how magical – and terrifying – the software is, I’ve still had my fair share of image issues. I’m not going to lie, when I take photos, I retouch them just like all the magazines do – airbrushing and all. That’s what people want. They want to be flawless and frozen in time, because that’s what society tells them to be. They’re supposed to be beautiful and thin and flawless because otherwise, they won’t belong. They’ll be ostracized, and that goes against the very core of our human psyche – our need to belong.

You know what? Makeup is like the “real world” version of Photoshop. Use the correct technique to blend your cover up and powder and you can make your blemishes disappear. Understand bronzer and highlights? Make your cheekbones appear to pierce through your skin and make your nose sharp and svelte. Understand colors and eyeshadow? Make your eyes appear to be twice their normal size. Use the creams and powders and liners correctly, and you can be flawless. You can be flawless and you can belong.

However, I wear makeup for me. I don’t wear it for society. I wear it for me because I like to play around and accentuate my big, wide-set eyes and my pixie nose. I like how artistic the process is – applying basecoats of certain products and blending colors together to create a product that appeals to the human aesthetic. It’s an undeniable art, and my face is my canvas. Society – and the media – may dictate that we need to be perfect and flawless, but I dictate that I want to show my best face to the world – and whether that face be in full makeup or merely in subtle hints of a few products – and be proud of who I am, “flawless” or not.

-Ola

H&M: Baby Steps, or Just Another Publicity Stunt?

Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here! Today I am approaching some vocabulary that may seem harmless, but has proven to pack some punch.  In today’s media climate, words like “plus-sized” and “average” hold a lot more meaning than they have in the past.    Instead of arguing over the finite details of connotation, I simply would like to offer up some facts to put everything in perspective, while examining H&M’s 2013 plus-size swimwear campaign.

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I recently received a link to an article from TIME discussing clothing retailer H&M, and the use of Jennie Runk in their plus-sized swimwear campaign for the 2013 season.  H&M received a lot of media attention and praise for the campaign, displaying the size 12 model in a variety of suits, including a two-piece bikini that shamelessly shows “a tiny bit of roll over her bathing suit bottom” and touching thighs.  I love the way these photos allow for diverse beauty that transcends the double zero standards rampant in the current fashion world.

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However, if you scroll down to read the comments on these photos, there is still plenty of criticism coming from two opposing sides.  On one hand, some people are upset that Runk is only being used for a “plus-sized” campaign, despite the fact she is still smaller than the average American woman, size 14.  These people argue that it is wrong to call a size 12 “plus-sized” if it is below the national average.  The other group argues that a size 12 IS considered plus sized for other countries and notes that H&M is technically a Swedish company.  Some people also brought up the point that the American average is unhealthy, and promoting a larger size as plus-sized would only encourage U.S. obesity.

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After reading all this, I did a little bit of research.  According to the CDC, the average adult woman’s BMI in America is currently a 26.5, while the healthy BMI range is between about 19-25.  This brings to question whether our concept of “average” should be viewed from a national standpoint or a health position.  I see the value of both sides, and I will leave you to develop your own opinion about how the American media interprets “average.”

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Science, terminology, and numbers aside, I do believe these photos should be celebrated as a small win. In a world full of many sizes, shapes, and cultures, diversity in representation is a positive thing for women and the media.  The article also brings up controversy in H&M’s past, using model’s faces on a CGI body to advertise their clothing.  The vast sea of concerns related to that goes without saying.  In relation to the Point Five Project, my opinion is that beauty is something that should be celebrated in all its shapes and sizes.  One of the most positive things about these photos is that H&M does not seem to be trying to hide Runk’s body or perfect her.  Photoshop is a great tool, but when media images begin to transcend reality, real human beings simply can not compare.  I don’t think “real beauty” needs to be so much about size as it should be about portraying beauty and women as they actually are, diverse and unique.

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Until next time, stay terribly beautiful!

Beauty or Bust: Cosmetics, Fitness, and the Kia Soul Hamsters

With the average $15,000 spent on makeup in a woman’s lifetime, you could buy a brand new 2013 Kia Soul.  And speaking of the Soul, even the Kia hamsters have given into media pressures with a dramatic weight loss in the newest Soul commercials.

BEFORE 

 

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Before I get all analytical, I do support a healthy lifestyle fortified by fitness, as portrayed in this commercial.  I also realize these are just silly animated hamsters, but keep in mind these “silly hamsters” are successful enough to have lasted since their first appearance in 2009. That being said, the implications of the 2014 Kia Soul commercial are very real.  The hamsters (which don’t even look like hamsters anymore) are yet another example of the media silently telling us that the only way we can be happy, successful, and popular is if we subject ourselves to weight loss and the “red carpet” standard of beauty.  And in the case of the Kia hamster, it is clear that men are not safe from this message either.

AFTER (Stuart Little, is that you?)

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Digital manipulation does not just apply to animated hamsters either, it is an everyday media standard for real human beings too.  This week on Facebook, there was a sharing trend for this video, “See Why We Have An Absolutely Ridiculous Standard Of Beauty In Just 37 Seconds,” featuring the dramatic Photoshop manipulation of a real woman.  If you have 37 second to spare I would strongly recommend watching it.  

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While I do believe advertisers are partially responsible for this unrealistic pressure, I don’t expect them to stop their alterations any time soon.  Instead, I believe we should encourage and promote the growth and importance of educating people in media literacy.  The media is an intrinsic part of today’s culture, and with it come many benefits to our standard of living.  However, the media is also dangerously powerful, otherwise most women would not be spending a car load of cash on makeup throughout their lives.  It is important that men and women alike learn to recognize that in today’s culture seeing is not believing.  Just like the burgers in fast food commercials, what you see is not what you get. So next time you watch a commercial, just take a moment to remember that you are viewing a fabricated reality.

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Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.

Miss Representation

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Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here.  I recently had the opportunity to watch Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary, Miss Representation.  For those who are unfamiliar with this film, I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in women’s rights or the cultural effects of the media.  The gist of Miss Representation is that the media misrepresents women, and in doing so, makes a negative impact on women’s empowerment, careers, body image, and general self-perception.

         

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Newsom uses a wide variety of evidence to back up her argument, including testimonials, case studies, figures, images, videos, montages, and statistics. She develops a strong argument against the objectification of women in Hollywood, which causes women to believe their worth comes from physical appearance and sexuality.  One of my favorite insights was brought up in a statement that the female characters in G-rated movies often wear the same amount of revealing clothing as those in R-rated films.

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It is sad that the supposed role models of the next female generation still have to gain their power through their bodies.  Today’s unfortunate numbers display an overall lack of women in powerful roles within the media.  Possibly as a result, women who are portrayed in the media are often weak characters, either dependent on men or on their sexuality in order to obtain any sort of upper hand. Newsom’s final argument in relation to this is that it is hard for women to be empowered and have female role models when they are never represented.

 

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 As a self-proclaimed career driven, independent women I had mixed feelings about this film.  I loved it for the fact that it brought up topics and facts I have championed in my own life and that I wish more people were aware of.  I was thankful that it dared to put this information out there for people to see and that it brought such real attention to the issues.  However, not everything about this documentary was convincing, and sometimes I felt that all the numbers, facts, and images provided, were not balanced out enough with solutions.  While there were certainly empowering moments throughout the film, there were times I felt it made the situation seem hopeless.  I would really like to have seen less pictures of the ways women have been degraded in the media, and more of women who have made a change and are in power, as Newsom claims to argue for.  To me, this would have worked more appropriately to back-up her solution. Then the documentary would have served more as an inspiration, instead of a PSA.

 

 

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I believe powerful women in the media and equal representation are just about as awesome as this gif of Hermione punching Draco in the face.  However, men are not to be directly blamed for the culture that has sprung up in today’s media.  Yes, it is the perspective that dominates the media, but women also need to support other women if we ever hope to grow and change today’s media landscape.  While it may be easy to look, judge, and put down others as a woman – this is part of what is getting us nowhere.  Like Hermione, women need to take risks, stick their necks out, and stand up for our fellow femmes.  There are many sides to this battle but if we stand upon each other’s shoulders we will find ourselves in much higher places than we ever will pointing fingers and calling blame.  With the Point Five Project I hope to do just that. Here is an outlet that allows people to share their stories and read about the experiences of others.  I hope that through education, powerful images, and distinctive statements,  I can make a small change and spark awareness for empowered women AND men to come.

  

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 Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.

“Sharpened” Lines

For those of you who have yet to see the Blurred Lines Parody Video, take a moment to check it out.  Note: it contains inappropriate language and images that have the potential to seriously offend people (not unlike the original “Blurred Lines” video), so I would not suggest watching this in a public place where others can hear.

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The video parodies Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” (the unrated video for which contains incredibly demeaning and objectifying clips of women prancing around in the nude).  This revamped version is essentially a feminist representation of a compete reversal of the sexist imagery rampant in today’s media, especially in music videos.  The minute I started watching this video, I knew I was going to love it.  And while I still do, I recognize a few of its debatable shortcomings, as is true with any sort of argumentative or statement piece.

To start off, I’m going to focus on the good…

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While this video is perhaps a bit more outrightly explicit, telling it as it is instead of relying on not-so-subtle innuendo, it establishes so much truth.  The general reaction to this video only works to point out the seemingly unavoidable double standards that have become so ordinary and natural in today’s media.  While I absolutely loved this video, there were definitely images in it that made me feel awkward and self-aware at moments.  However, the content simply takes the many overtly sexual and objectifying  roles attached to women in the media, and applies them to men instead. The simple fact that so many people were shocked and offended by the visual and textual content of this video provides a significant illustration of where we are as a society.

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On the opposing side, I talked to a (male) friend of mine about the video after sharing it on Facebook.  While I had other friends of both genders who found the video hilarious, he was offended, though not for the reasons some may expect. He felt that the video unfairly blamed and targeted men as the sole reason for women’s current position in the media. Since I have been studying the topic of women’s representation in the media, I did not view the video in this way, though I did see where someone could interpret the video as such.  While the parody relies on a role reversal, championing against sexual discrimination, I do not feel there is any one group that should be blamed for the unfortunate positions women often hold in today’s culture and media.

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One of my favorite quotes from the video was “we aint whores to do your household chores to make you a sandwich when were on all fours.”  This quote does hold a certain air of defiance against men, however I recognize that men are not the only enemy in the war for equal and positive representation.  Many things in the media and our society have resulted in the unfortunate objectified state of women in multiple media outlets today.  While men hold part of the blame, they can not be treated as the sole scapegoat.  Women also need to learn to love and support each other in an honest way that extends beyond jealousy and petty flattery. As a general whole I think this parody sharpens the lines of perception and allows a clear view of the unfortunate double standards embedded in our culture.  People can talk about and analyze the problem forever, but it is actions like this which really allow us to make progress and draw the attention of the public.  I sincerely hope to see more works like this in the future – those which inspire conversation and draw attention to all the hypocrisy of the world without needing to rely on lengthy, fruitless arguments.

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In relation to the Point Five Project, I feel this video has a similar heart.  It calls attention to a representational problem in a way that shows rather than tells, guides rather than leads, and inspires rather than attacks.  “Peoples minds are changed through observation and not through argument.”

Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.

Barbie Gets a “Makeunder?”

Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here.  It doesn’t matter your gender, race, or age, most every American immediately recognizes the “perfect” and familiar face of Barbie.  There have been many articles posted about the literal impossibility of Barbie’s body. Anatomically speaking, a Barbie’s proportions can not exist in real life. Not only is her head too big and her neck too long, but her legs are sticks and her feet are practically nonexistent. A woman built like Barbie would be a scientific phenomena and couldn’t even stand on her own two feet, much less walk.

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The implications of Barbie’s impossibly “sexy” body, on the self esteem and body image of young girls is a relevant and important topic.  However, it is a well debated issue that I feel has been thoroughly covered by many other bloggers and news organizations.  An especially good point of this was made through the art of Nickolay Lamm.  Above is an actual Barbie paired with Lamm’s rendering of a Barbie using the average 19-year-old’s body proportions.  If you would like to learn more about this project please check out the link below from the NY Daily News, in the mean time I am moving on to the main point of this post, which I believe is an important, yet neglected, side to this subject.

(Read more at http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/artist-barbie-real-proportions-article-1.1388333)

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Above is an image of what Barbie looks like with and without makeup.  While Barbie without makeup is certainly less glamourous and sexy than her rosy counterpart, she is still stunning.  This probably has something to do with the fact she is crafted to be perfectly symmetrical, with absolutely no blemishes, and maintains a flawless complexion with eyes that are way bigger than any actual human being’s.  These key attributes can be found in any doll, however Barbie continues to be way more sexy that her Cabbage Patch counterparts.  And then we get to this wholly more realistic before-and-after rendering of Barbie. This one seems to take a bit more inspiration from the before and after photos you see of supermodels.  If the circles under her eyes don’t do it for you, check out those roots! While this may be a bit extreme, I certainly feel it makes a point about the sort of expectations young girls are growing up with.

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I’m not saying that they should start making Barbies with puffy eyes and uneven faces, even that may be a bit much.  However, when your typical 6-year-old dreams of being a grown up with makeup and purses and manicures, wouldn’t it be better not to have her aspiring to be like Barbie. Take a closer look, Barbie has got it all: the hot boyfriend, a massive rack, legs that go a mile, every accessory on the face of the earth, enough clothes to fill an olympic pool, a hot pink corvette, and don’t forget the 20 pounds of foundation, lipstick, and mascara. It’s no wonder the more recent generations are growing up beauty obsessed and crazy consumers when they have spent the past 10 years asking for clothing, cars, accessories, and homes for their plastic counterparts.

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Barbie is unrealistic in so many ways, however makeup is a very real thing.  Girls should be learning to love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin, but instead their role models are 11.5 inch tall, chunks of plastic with more clothes than brain cells.  And thus to attain these unachievable standards, girls turn to the things they can control.  Just like Barbie, the makeup never comes off, eating disorders have been, and continue to be, on the rise, and boob jobs are growing to possibly become one of the most popular graduation gifts for girls.  Now, I doubt the Barbie franchise is going anywhere anytime soon,  her and Ken are too well embedded in our culture.  However, before people jump to criticize the morals and values of new generations springing up, take a moment to think about how the toys of today may have a different impact than the Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys of yesterday. With this awareness, hopefully the changes we spread now will benefit the world of tomorrow.

Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.

Let’s Start from the Beginning

Hey there cyberspace explorers, DiamondstoGlass here!

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I would like to begin with an introduction to this page and what I am all about. For those of you who are wondering, “what in the world is the Point Five Project?,” here are the sparknotes. At its core, the Project is a photographic exploration of how makeup and the media affect our self perception.  However, there is so much more to it and I strongly suggest you click “THE PROJECT” for the full vision of exactly what I’m up to.

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The motivation for this blog can be simplified into two primary purposes. First, it is a way to promote and share the Point Five Project with the world.  Second, it is an integral part of my Honors Thesis which is dedicated to this project and topic. This blog will offer an outlet to contemplate new perspectives on everyday ideas, challenge the way we view the world, and post about news/studies regarding the topics of makeup, media, and body image in a fresh and creative way.

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I am so excited to share this project with you and I look forwards to watching it grow.  Until next time, stay terribly beautiful!

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