Beauty is not concrete and may vary from culture to culture changing over time and shifting according to location. “Beauty” is an image which has been created by society to which woman and men have had to subject themselves to be “real”. The ideology of beauty or what is accepted as being the right appearance has been created by society and largely propagated by media.
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For United States of the 1950s Marilyn Monroe was the pinnacle of beauty which soon changed to Twiggy in the 1960s. While porcelain skin is valued in China, scarification of the skin and decorating it with tattoos is considered as a status symbol in Africa. Thus the physical attributes and ideas attached to beauty vary across cultures.
“Women’s magazine industry is understood as a monolithic meaning producer, circulating magazines that contain messages and signs about the nature of femininity that serve to promote and legitimate dominant interests.” (Anna Gough- Yates). A majority of feminist critics argue that media is responsible for establishing and promoting gender differences and inequalities in society. In respect media persons are considered responsible for reinforcing capitalism and patriarchy; manipulating society to attain increased circulation figures.
Magazines are a great source, to study the society. Recording changes, from the purely fashion magazine couture age of 1920’s, to ‘lifestyle and home’ of the 1940’s when domestic help was rare and woman to a personal interest in their homes. To ‘New woman’ of the 1980’s when woman began to work alongside men in almost every field to ‘do it yourself’ of the 20th century with soaring costs and economic downturn. Magazines reflect revolutions in society and influenced the opinion of women across nations.
Given the increase in trade to Asia and the spread of the beauty industry across nations, there is limited study available on how people are depicted internationally in the fashion magazines. Previous research has established that woman’s magazines can act as agents of publicizing gender stereotypes and beauty ideals like size zero and institutionalizing conventions like photographic poses. (Rudman and Verdi, 1993; Griffin, Viswanath, Schwartz, 1994). Yet little research has been done on the differences in representation of women internationally and locally.
“One must establish what people are looking at before one can hope to understand why under the conditions peculiar to them, they see what they see” Rudolf Arnhein (Arnhein 1977:4)
An image is that stimulus or representation that compels us to cognition, interpretation and personal preference. If we understand that the market is image based than we also begin to understand the importance of vision in understanding management in the information society. Images are where visual communication starts. Jonathan E. Schroeder confirms in his study of media that “visual consumption”
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