Mask: The Plastic and the visage
Chosen area of Research
The stigma around Beauty and face products has been a constant Hegemony subconsciously to the women belonging to any society, the never ending pressure of being attractive and presentable has become prevalent in all their lives. The rate at which Beauty product based Advertisements are consumed by the target audience gives a closer look into the lives of the people and their palatable options in Beauty products. The industry has been proliferating and has hit its boom post the Third Wave of Feminism and there has also been increasing criticism in regards to women who believe wearing make-up is an act of liberation.
Researchers from all domains and especially from that of Sociology and Anthropology have done regressive research and presented Data to substantiate their arguments pertaining to the lens through which its consumers view advertisements of Beauty and Face products and are often cheated just for the sake of Marketing. The commonly used phrase “Beauty is in the eyes of the Beholder”, doesn’t really seem to fit into this Utopist ideology of how it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do but simple that of what you look. There are several criticisms that revolve around the necessity of wearing make-up and adding artificial beauty for glam of it and in other contexts it more or less becomes a status symbol in certain communities and profession.
There are multiple connotations, of both positive and negative, when the idea of beauty and plastic body type related research is conducted and these are stereotypes to some and real stories to others, and there is difference even in understanding the reasons to its emergence and proliferation.
Keywords: Make-up, Advertisements, Facial cosmetics, Beauty, Visual Image, Filters and Social Media.
In this exposition the rationale for conducting this research is
1. If whether exposure to images depicting facial cosmetic enhancements increases the desire for cosmetic surgery among young women.
2. If whether Instagram and Facebook Filters cause low self confidence in women?
1. To identify and construct meanings of how Advertisements like Maybelline, Lakmé, L’Oreal and other popular beauty brands segment and advertise their products.
2. To analyse the role of Social media and filters on Teens and their understanding of the perfect body.
Overview of Literature
Bignell, 1997: 78). believes that “when scanning the print ads, the qualities that bring it together and set it apart from other media are ones that could be labeled, ‘artistic’; the range of color, the sense of sign, intertextuality and the ‘beauty’ of the forms”. He states that the magazine is “just a collection of signs. These signs may include paradigmatic and syntagmatic elements such as the title of the magazine, the fonts used, the layout, the colors, the texture of the paper, the language adopted, the content of the articles and so on, and each of these signs have been chosen to generate a meaning”(ibid.) According to (Bignell, 2002). Because a “sign has these positive connotations; it can work as the signifier for the mythic signified ‘feminine beauty’. This concept belongs to our society’s stock of positive myths concerning the attributes of sexually desirable woman”. The ad has presented us with a sign (the photographed model) which itself signifies a concept ‘feminine beauty’. This concept of feminine beauty is what (Barthes, 1964). would describe as a mythic meaning. The mythic meaning of the ad connected the watch, feminine beauty, and exotic sexual pleasure. As in the case of Barthes’ black soldier saluting the flag, it does not matter who the model is, who the photographer was, where the picture was taken, etc. The only significant attribute of the photographed model is that she exhibits the physical qualities which enable her to function as a signifier for the mythic meaning ‘feminine beauty’.
By the twentieth century, cosmetics were once again in vogue and were used freely and openly within society with no moral stigma attached to their use. Attitudes to make-up were varied with many embracing it, others firmly opposed to it, and yet others who felt it was alright as long as it was not visible (Bordo, 1991; Corson 1972). Cosmetics became big business with early American entrepreneurial women setting up beauty parlors and manufacturing the first commercial cosmetics. Between 1890 and 1920 the cosmetic industry was almost completely dominated by women as they produced, advertised and sold products.
Nennu literally means “tender” younger women and feminine youth, and shunu refers to “ripe” older women and feminine maturity. The two terms appear in advertisements, fashion magazines, television shopping channels, beauty and health care services, and everyday discourse. This discourse constitutes and legitimates China’s so-called beauty economy (meinu jingji), referring to everything from beauty pageants and modeling competitions to advertisements, cosmetics, plastic surgery, beauty and health care services, and television and cinema, which link women’s beauty with the economy (Xu and Feiner 2007).
In March 2016, a new hashtag surfaced, called #UnfairandLovely, which is an anti-colorism movement that aims to unite dark-skinned women world-wide. #UnfairandLovely was created by Pax Jones, a black student at the University of Texas, featuring her classmates of South Asian decent (Rankin, 2016). At the time of this survey of the literature, there are currently 4,772 selfies using the #unfairandlovely hashtag on Instagram and that number can be tracked at any time by performing a simple search of the hashtag. The hashtag’s name derived from “Fair & Lovely,” a skin-whitening cream (Rankin, 2016).
In December 2004, China hosted its ﬁrst Miss Plastic Surgery Pageant in Beijing, sponsored by both cosmetic surgery hospitals and private beauty clinics. Nineteen ﬁnalists aged 17–62 vied to become the country’s best “artiﬁcial beauty” (renzao meinu). One qualiﬁcation for participation was to present certiﬁcates from medical professionals to prove that the participant was cosmetically altered. Reﬂecting the pillars of consumerism — personal liberty and freedom of choice — the Miss Plastic Surgery Pageant celebrates the freedom, right, and “natural” desire to pursue beauty through any possible means.
Peiss argues that the 21 character of beauty culture began to change. Consumer culture gained momentum from the continual communication of the mass media and, at the same time, male-operated companies began to set up and manufacture cosmetics. These organizations were hugely successful and displaced many of the earlier female entrepreneurs.
In 1952, Revlon launched one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history when introducing a new lipstick and nail polish called ‘Fire and Ice’. This seductive advertisement had remarkable reach and was targeted to communicate with every user of cosmetics throughout the United States.
Facial make-up has been used extensively to enhance the wearer’s value and beauty within society. The face itself is considered an important component in measuring attractiveness, and provides a window from which people derive all sorts of information about a person and their role and status within society (Fabricant & Gould, 1993; McNeil, 1998). Furthermore, the reason for using make-up by women is diverse, and covers the enigma of young women wearing it to look older and older women wearing it to look younger (Fabricant & Gould, 1993).
There are many globally well-established leading cosmetic companies such as The L’Oreal Group, The Procter & Gamble Company, Unilever, Shiseido Company Ltd and Estee Lauder Companies Inc.
Cosmetic products have modernized and brings a change not only in foreign countries but also in Indian society and thereby in the minds of Indian customers especially youth and adults who have now started purchasing various cosmetic brands viz. Lakmé, L’Oreal, Avon, Mac and Chambor, Pond’s, Fair & Lovely, Maybelline, Color Bar, Dove, Elle 18, Revlon, Clinique, and Garnier.
There are many factors that consumers will look for before buying a cosmetic product: Brand, Quality, Labeling, Price, and Advertisement.
According to van Leeuwen (2005: 8), “a good starting point for studying aspects of visual communication is to consider that there are two verbal and visual modes of communication in print advertising with complex interaction between them”. It can be conceived that the linguistic as well as visual choices made by ad producers are not accidental at all. It is believed that
Critical discourse analysis (CDA) can uncover the ideologically-laden choices in this particular discourse.
As the application of make-up is an everyday ritual for so many women within Western Australian society, further study of this vehicle and the messages it communicates within our culture is important. Semiotics serves as a useful framework to explore the meanings behind this consumption ritual and the signification that the ‘sign’ of make-up holds for women. Whilst a plethora of work has been conducted on the individual topics of consumer research in fashion, beauty and self; research specifically focusing on the semiotics of face-make-up does not exist. Indeed, Mick et al. (1999) discusses the need for more qualitative work in the area of consumers’ intentions and desires in fashion communication, and in particular, into the personal and intimate meanings of fashion.
As the historical perspective of cosmetics demonstrates, make-up has been heavily influenced by the changing social landscape. A time of particular note was during the 1900’s when the role of women in American society and societies’ perception of gender changed when women undertook a more public identity than they had in the past (Vinikas, 1992). Women were more commonly in the work force and, during the First World War, their contribution outside the home increased significantly. Women also gained the vote and, in line with these structural social changes, moved away from the traditional role of mother and homemaker (Vinikas, 1992). The massive rise in cosmetic use and sales in the 1920’s can be linked to this social realignment of the gender role, but it was also aided by the increasing use of advertising messages targeted directly at women.
The impact of advertising on grooming habits during the early 20th Century was enormous and has been compared to similar agents of socialization such as religion and education (Vinikas, 1991).
According to Beausoleil (1994), “women’s everyday make-up and appearance practices are indeed part of the social organization of gender, race, class, femininity, sexuality, and the social construction of self” (p 33). To this end Beausoleil (1994) proposes that, in understanding 42 women’s use of visible face make-up, it is more than adopting the normalized images depicted by mass media and increasingly about how women experience beauty and appearance within their everyday life that provides interesting dimensions in consumer behaviour.
The Theoretical Background to this research paper is entirely based on the notion of masks or in other words how individuals belonging to all gender try impersonating an artificial externality through make-ups, face masks, filters on social media platforms and look at themselves with before and after effects. The Kardashian and the Jenner effects are also widely looked upon in the analysis of this exposition as the trajectory of artificialness is best understood under the term “Plastic”.
The broader theory that this research will be looking into is the theory of Hypodermic needle which sprouted out of the infamous study of Behaviorism where in the meat of this theory as understood by Nazi’s was that what the protagonist is trying to explain has to be simply consumed by masses all at one go instead of individual consummation. The target audience is set and is then shown a particular advertisement of visual imagery and their views and ideas gets influenced and is to some extent manipulated as well. The “magic bullet” and “hypodermic needle” models originate from the “magic bullet” and “hypodermic needle” models originate from Harold Lasswell’s 1927 book, Propaganda Technique in the World War.
To make inferences in the field of advertising, the current communication environment of Kim Kardashian to fans on Facebook is analyzed. The theory of Para social Interaction offers a valuable basis for the study of this phenomenon because it classifies communication between celebrities and fans as imitation of closeness and friendship, which makes faithful fanship with a high market value possible. Due to the fact that a female celebrity endorser is the focal point, this study further examines the special relationship between female endorsers and female audiences in regards to Para social Interaction.
Cosmetic surgery presents another powerful example of the impact celebrities have on our health. Research tells us that many of the aesthetic norms that drive the industry are established and reinforced by celebrity culture. Kate Middleton’s nose.19 Michelle Obama’s arms.20 Hugh Jackman’s jawline.21 And Kim Kardashian’s gluteus maximus.22 These are the features that are often requested by individuals seeking to modify their bodies through surgery. The last example is of particular interest. Butt enlargement was, until recently, a relatively rare procedure. Now it is one of the fastest growing forms of cosmetic surgery.
Shifman (2014) asserts the notion that contemporary society is based on an “attention economy.” Social media platforms make the attention quantifiable via “likes.” Likes are a feedback mechanism on social media platforms such as Snap chat, Instagram, and Facebook. Image sharing platforms allow users to send and receive feedback on content posted via likes, loves, comments, and/or re-shares. Feedback to indicate “likes,” “loves,” and “reshares” is demonstrated by clicking the respective indicator button for the particular photo. Making and posting selfies on social media provides currency in the sense of “likes” which currently equate to social status (Savage, 2014). It is asserted that the “American Dream” is the realization of self-made celebrity. The self-made individual generates celebrity and social value from their self-made image (Savage, 2014). This concept presents a tie-in from the origin of the “photographic self-portrait” to its evolution into the ubiquitous “selfie” that drives social media culture in 2017.
Regardless of public opinion or moral compass, the term “Kardashian” has established itself as a staple in popular culture, especially millennial popular culture. In 2017, the Kardashian name personifies the ultimate self-made celebrity, thus realization of the American Dream. This statement is no exaggeration. In 2015, Forbes reported that Kim Kardashian earned $53 million, doubling her earnings in 2014. This family has been paid millions of dollars to promote images of “flawless” beauty via body augmentation, makeup application and frequent posting of selfies. That same year, Kardashian also jumped from #80 to #33 for the World’s Highest Paid Celebrities with 33 million Twitter followers, 37 million Instagram followers, two reality shows, and a mobile application that invites players to create their own “celebrity” (Robehmed, 2016).
Selfie culture is “driving patients toward cosmetic surgery due to their ability to share their images at any given moment. They are finding it more and more important to put their best versions of themselves forward (PR Newswire, 2014).” This speaks to a paradigm shift in that the best version of oneself starts to resemble the original self less and less. Technology aside, there are many factors that impact the perceived perfections and unrealistic standards of beauty for women. Technology accelerates these standards and provides feedback in real time. From an objective point of view, one can gather that the influence of selfie culture is growing in the following areas especially: millennial culture, social media use, innovation of mobile applications, the makeup industry, and the manner in which humans participate in the physical world. This could have an impact on their perceptions of beauty, self-worth, and dependency on social media, among other things.
This study aligns with the emerging position on selfie culture which is that the motivations extend beyond narcissism or attention-seeking behavior. It has permeated other pertinent areas of the millennial female experience. For example, the 2017 Brigham Young study (Christensen, 2017) concludes that there are three types of selfie-takers and that most are not narcissists. Per the study (Christensen, 2017), those types are communicators, autobiographers, and self-publicists. This study aligns with the researcher’s assertion that although factors such as narcissism and attention-seeking behavior contribute to the experience, they are not the most dominant. There are additional factors such as communication, interpersonal relationship management, collaboration, and self-expression with no significant negative connotations identified.
Recent work in the history of communication studies have documented how the two models may have served as straw man theory or fallacy or even a “myth”. Others have documented the possible medical origins of the metaphor of the magic bullet model. (Lasswell, 1927). The application of this theory will be evident in this research where the underlying reasons to why individuals prefer to hide their originality and consider their body and the flaws it has as a negative or in other words something that conjures up self-hatred in themselves. The Magic Bullet theory however has its own flaws the bigger picture is that its effect was prominent and it still is when we take into consideration the business and marketing techniques Beauty Industry tries to advertise and Maybelline New York is a classic epitome of the Magic Bullet theory.
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