Tag Archives: real women

No Photoshop Movement – Michigan Times Article

Article by Emily Legleitner, Michigan Times.  Published 17/02/2014 which discusses the effects of companies (such as Aerie) and the effects that their ‘no photoshop’ movement may have.  Backed up by evidence from Jean Kilbourne (who has dedicated the last 40 years to studying the effects of media and advertising on body image) it discusses how these photoshopped images, although maybe only viewed fleetingly, have a lifetime effect on our thoughts subconsciously.  It touches upon the way that advertising campaigns affect men as well, through their depiction of masculinity and virility, focussing on the tougher side of men which can pose a threat to mens subconscious.   This is particularly interesting to me as it is something that has come up in group crit sessions about advertising being a subject that affects men and is not a purely female problem.


This is a good link to a New York Times opinion editorial on the subject of photoshop.



Verily magazine


Jean Kilbourne


PDF studyguide to go along with Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Me Softly 4 package on the effects of media on women.




I’ve recently been looking at the subject of body shaming in a little more detail with reference to my project on ‘real women’ and the possible harmful effects of body enhancement using photoshop (or other editing software) in the media.

There are many cases of body shaming that go on daily, from newspapers that criticise celebrities for being overweight, underweight, having pimples, looking tired, having grey hair, etc.  Sometimes it comes under the guise of being used as being aspirational to help people – possibly to lose weight, or have plastic surgery, etc.  Whatever the reason I feel that to make another person feel uncomfortable/unhappy in their own body is an unkind thing to do.

This article from Ellie Woodward, for Buzzfeed, has some really good examples of body shaming of celebrities in the media, and their responses.


and this one


My current photography project has profoundly changed the way i think and feel about people.  I have journeyed deep into my own mind to consider how I use instant judgement to make decisions about what a person is like, and how they live and whether I want to interact with them, without even knowing them.  It has changed the way I look at people as I hadn’t realised how superficial we are (I am!) as human beings in that we judge a person on what they are wearing and how their body looks rather than their personal traits and achievements.  Its a difficult thing to admit to, but the more you realise you are doing it the more you are able to change your behaviour.  I’ve corrected myself many times these last few months, and in the process have had many happy chats with people that I would never have interacted with before – my life is happier for having changed my attitude.

Part of the reason for doing my ‘Real Women’ photography project is to provide inspirational images for women to see what real bodies are like, and that all bodies are not the same, and that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ methodology for body shape and size and that we all have the right to look different and feel good looking different.

I have been awed and humbled by the women that have selflessly allowed me to photograph them as bare as they dared to provide inspiration for other women.  Rather than being a project that was a ‘fine art’ project about nude women’s bodies being viewed sexually, these images are aimed for a women’s gaze and more a bonding of sisterhood.  These brave ladies are not usually behind the camera, all have the usual insecurities about how people will view them, and yet each has bravely stepped forward and said … “This is me, I am a real women and I am proud of that.  Be proud to be you too.”

I came across this poem, The Journey, by Mary Oliver, which I found really inspiring.  It could be used as a metaphor for many different things/journeys in life, and in my mind it fits perfectly with the journey of feeling happy in your own skin.

The Journey

One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice—

though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles.

“Mend my life!” each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,

though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough, 

and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice which you slowly recognised as your own,

that kept you company as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,

determined to do the only thing you could do—

determined to save the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver

Plus Sized Models – Just another set of unattainable ideals?

I have been researching media images of women and the effect that these have on self esteem with a particular interest in the digital manipulation that occurs in some images.  There are many reports available on the internet that have investigated the awareness that women have of digital retouching, with 85% in one report being aware that it takes place (credos, 2011). However, this does not take into account that this 85% may not include the most vulnerable members of society who are the very people who need protecting from the misconceptions manipulated images lead us to believe.

Previously I had always thought that the sway towards using plus sized models (whatever plus sized relates to) should be a good thing – shouldn’t it?  How could it be anything but positive – showing real women as they are – with all their curves and ‘jiggly bits’ so that we can see how ‘normal’ we really are … but alas things are never that easy in the media!

I was told about a practice of ‘padding up’ used by these plus sized ladies for fashion shoots.  Shocked and amazed that such a practice would be in place I have been looking more into this – and it’s not good news for my large sized friends!

The lovely curvy ladies we see wearing outfits we would like to buy in our fashion catalogues for the larger ladies are indeed slimmer models wearing pads to make them look bigger.  No wonder when we buy these outfits we don’t look the same … a size 16 lady generally has a size 16 (ish) waist (we all come in different shapes and sizes so this does vary of course) so that wonderful dress with her hour glass figure looks fantastic – I put it on and look like a sack of spuds!  Why?  Because the model in the image is a size 12 really and has a padded bottom and breasts to make them to a size 16.


Its something that I never knew about!  To be honest how on earth can we be expected to know – its kept quiet so that we, as consumers, have an empathy with the magazine/clothes company/catalogue and feel that these models are ‘real’ and we buy those clothes.  We have no idea that we are being duped and aspire to be just like them.  In my opinion it is sadly just another form of media meddling and does no more good than only showing the slim models.

Very few ladies have a genuine perfect hour glass figure, regardless of the size it comes in.  Fashion icons, such as Marilyn Monroe, were noticed because they are in the minority with their natural body shape.  Very few of the models shown have the figures that 95% of the female population are able to achieve (Sex Roles, 1999) – I feel we are being grossly misled.  Where are the real plus sized models?  Bring on those beautiful ladies that really are plus sized and stop playing mind games with peoples self esteem.

A current young female model who admits to using this practice of padding on occasion is Marquita Pring.  In this article she explains that sometimes she is not curvy enough for her clients as she is a large size 12/small size 14.


The article from the Daily Mail isn’t the only newspaper article that broaches this subject.  The Huffington Post also has articles by model Marquita Pring about the practice of padding.


Pring also has a current and often updated Instagram account that has many comments on it about the media ideals she sees towards the ‘perfect body’.  This account has feedback both for and against her thoughts on her posts which makes interesting reading.


Other plus sized models include Myla Dalbesio, who has recently starred in the latest Calvin Klein advertisements.  However, at 5’11” tall and a UK size 14 there are serious debates as to whether she really classes as plus sized.  Taking into account the models height I, personally, would say that this model is perfectly proportioned and is not plus sized.  This article in the Daily Mail addresses those very concerns.


I will be looking further into other models that come under the ‘plus size’ label.  I have found this site that looks interesting and will be following up many of these links.



Pretty as a picture, CREDOS, 2011

Gender differences in population versus media body sizes: a comparison over 4 decades, Sex Roles, 1999


I have recently been looking at video production.  This is in preparation interviews I plan to film for my Specialist Production about ‘Real Women’.  My production concentrates on how women are currently portrayed in the media and the self esteem issues that can be linked to this.  In my research I came across a website called ‘This Girl Can’.  How inspiring.  Really love the fact that each interview is so short, but action packed and full of positivity.  As a set they work really well.  Definitely something that I would like to draw inspiration from for my video interviews later this term 🙂