The Point Five Project

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

Category: Community

How the Pursuit of Perfection Actually Confiscates Our Individuality

Rebkah

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

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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.