Category Archives: Theme #3: MEDIA

Pregnancy is Sexy

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I think pregnancy is a wonderful thing and I would really love to have a baby someday. Some of my friends and sisters think that being pregnant is scary because of the whole pain-of-childbirth thing. Still, others think it is gross because you get very big and you end up fat and with stretch marks. Although I see their point (I am actually very scared of childbirth and getting stretch marks), I still stand in awe whenever I see pregnant women. I am amazed at the fact that our bodies are capable of producing, developing, and sustaining a new person. Pregnancy is one of the main reasons why I think being a girl is still so much better than being a boy despite this patriarchal world that we live in. Girl power!

What a beautiful thing!

That aside, I do have to admit that pregnancy is pretty daunting. You carry around a baby in your stomach for 9 months. Towards the end of the pregnancy, just imagine how heavy that is! Some friends say that you really won’t be able to see your feet anymore when you stand. Others say that your back will be sore all the time. Plus, with a belly that big, how will you sleep? And then they talk about what happens to your body after giving birth. When I thought about it, I did in fact wonder, what the heck happens to your stretched-out stomach once the baby comes out?! I’m not a very vain and superficial person; I am low maintenance and I’m not excessively conscious about the way I look. But then again, who would want to have a sore back, swollen legs, varicose veins, and a big saggy stomach? Not me. But I guess that’s the price of rearing a child in your womb for 9 months. (You bring a child into the world and what do you get? Stretch marks. Nice.)

Nooooo!

Then again, women can always bounce back from this postpartum state and achieve a fit body once again (hopefully). I was watching a Hollywood news show one day and saw a segment about how Victoria Beckham looked so good in a short dress merely a couple of months after the birth of her third child. OKAY, so maybe Victoria Beckham wasn’t the best choice for comparison. But I’ve always thought that it would at least be possible to look good again even after blowing up after pregnancy. In line with this, especially for us normal people who don’t have the Victoria Beckham genes and bank accounts, how does the constant pressure from society to always look good and maintain a slim figure carry over to pregnant women?

HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE

Dworkin and Wachs (2004) did a textual analysis of a magazine in the United States entitled Shape Fit Pregnancy from the time of its inception in 1997 up to 2003. Shape Fit Pregnancy is a magazine devoted to pregnant women’s “pre- and post-partum fitness needs.” Their study aimed to analyze how fitness discourse and practices are perceived in the context of pregnant women and new mothers. Their findings suggest the notion that the pregnant form is presented as maternally successful yet aesthetically problematic. Likewise, contemporary mothers now have an additional third shift (aside from the first shift of working and the second shift of household and childcare), which is bodywork and fitness practices. Their analysis also revealed that fitness practices for pregnant women are explained as training for labor, that is, they are encouraged to do such exercises as a way of preparing their bodies for childbirth. Also, Shape Fit Magazine assures readers that the second and third shifts (household and childcare, and fitness practices) are highly compatible. This is why the magazine is filled with creative workout ideas that incorporate chores and childcare with being able to bounce back from their postpartum bodies.

I was reading this article while I was in the Third World Studies Library and the guy that I shared a table with kept looking at me as I repeatedly shook my head and went “What in the…?”  Some workout ideas were just downright funny. One major suggestion of the magazine is that childcare and working out can be incorporated because babies can be used as weight barbells. Seriously? I see the point that merely taking care of a child can be a workout in itself, but the ideas presented were so out of place and forced, to the point that it was ridiculous. Such ideas include “kiss the baby pushups”, where the mother places the baby on the floor underneath her body as she does pushups and lowers herself to kiss the baby before pushing back up. Another is what they call “baby crunches” where the baby is draped over the mother’s shins as she does sit-ups and holds the baby with one hand. I didn’t know how to react when I read these suggestions. First thing that came to my mind is that the baby pushups could be dangerous if the mother falls on the baby, and as for the baby crunches, well now that’s merely using your baby as a dead weight. It’s like any idea that can be related to working out and pregnancy can be jotted down on the magazine. Just any idea that could make a profit.

I think this is a bit funny.

It’s kind of funny, or maybe sad, that even with such a beautiful thing as pregnancy, the notions and expectations about what is acceptable still dominates. It is of course expected for women to get bigger and lose that taut, toned body they used to have. I mean DUH, that is what getting pregnant does to you, isn’t it? It’s a natural thing that, I thought, was widely accepted. So in line with this, the authors also suggest the paradox of the whole concept. Feminists, in their attempt to empower women, encourage them to incorporate their bodywork with all their other tasks as mothers and wives. This then becomes ironic in the sense that the feminist discourse to produce fit mothers merely emphasizes that feminism has yet to succeed — it provides such strong pressure that after the beautiful and amazing process of pregnancy and childbirth, there is something that they have lost and should get back.

And as afraid as I am of getting stretch marks, it’s hard to agree.

 

Dworkin, S.L. & Wachs, F.L. (2004). “Getting your body back”: postindustrial fit motherhood in Shape Fit Pregnancy magazine. Gender and Society, 18(5), 610-624.

She’s My Eyedol

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Desperately searching for a creative shot concept for the graduation picture last Monday, I rummaged around fashion magazines at home, googgling my way through photographs of beautiful people.

Looking at these photos I can’t help but ask myself— kaya ko ba magmukhang ganyan? parang di ko ata keri.

Fashion magazines whether local or foreign are loaded with lots of ads spanning almost half of the whole magazine itself. Print ads have been a popular tool to attract and persuade possible consumers through getting their attention.

 Popular magazines such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Preview and Mega include advertisements of attractive models, and idealized versions and presentations of women. As I have experienced and I can say most women do experience this: looking at extremely out-of-this-world attractive models makes us feel sad- even depressed. In other words, it generates feelings of doubt about self-esteem and body satisfaction. This is where media images influences the internalization of the thin ideal comes in: most young women are influenced by the societal pressure to be thin.

But what makes these advertisements so influential? It’s not just the attractive, and idealized presentation of the tall, gorgeous and intimidating models but it’s on how we actually focus our attention to the medium. Several studies looked into how advertisements are visually processed and how this in turn influences women’s self-perceptions. It’s interesting to know what elements in the ad do people look at first or what elements receive the longest stare. According to consumer studies, consumers focus more on the pictures in an advertisement more than the brand or the text and the patterns of visual attention vary based on the product.

In a specific study by Heawon Ju and Kim Johnson entitled, Fashion Advertisements and Young Women: Determining Visual Attention Using Eye Tracking. They investigated how young women process fashion ads by measuring their eye movements. They also correlated these findings to self-reports of social comparison and internalization of the thin ideal.

The study’s experiment involves several methods. The participants answered a questionnaire as measures of self-esteem, internalization of the thin ideal, and the tendency for appearance comparison. Afterwards, they entered an eye-tracking laboratory where their eye fixations and gaze durations for the ads were measured. After the experiment, they answered self-report questions on social comparisons.

Hot spot results of participants who were high in internalization of thin ideal: note the hotter areas on the model's image

Findings show that 58.8% of the participants looked at the model first followed by something in the background and then the headline. Compared to other aspects, the model was looked at faster, longer and more often. This confirms our belief that the model receives the most attention!

The participants who reported that they compared themselves to the model showed longer gaze duration and more eye fixations on the model’s image. In fact, internalizing the thin ideal was found to influence not only self- reports also the time spent looking at the model, eye fixations and self-reports of comparison.

It’s just an amazing idea that we can objectively measure social comparison through the small movements of our eyes. So, maybe our eyes speak louder than actions.

In the end, this study made me realize how influential media is nowadays. I guess young women can’t escape the fact that those gorgeous hot models have the greatest potential to influence how we think of ourselves. It can take a lot of work to not internalize the thin ideal and to not be depressed by the images of those out-of-this-world attractive models. Maybe we should focus on not comparing ourselves to those heavenly bodies- in reality, upward social comparison could certainly be detrimental why don’t we try some downward social comparison and feel better about ourselves? 🙂

…How about men? Does this also apply them?

Ju, H., & Johnson, K. P. (2010). Fashion advertisements and young women: Determining visual attention using eye tracking. Clothing & Textiles Research Journal, 28(3), 159-173. doi:10.1177/0887302X09359935

It’s all about the package… ;)

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Yes, his package may be an effective way to advertise food too. 😉 Pahingi ngang kanin! 😉

OOPS. So sorry! I wasn’t talking about THAT kind of package! 😉

“Amoy Delicious, Crispylicious, Juicylicious, Gravylicious, Langhap-Sarap…” If you don’t automatically think of Jollibee’s ChickenJoy after you read that phrase, there’s something wrong with you. Actually that could make me think you had a very sad childhood(I’m judging you, seriously).

Personally, this phrase has been around all my life, and I think I’ve let it get to me too much. Ever since I was a child, whenever I see this “tagline” in Jollibee commercials, print ads or billboards, I tug my mom and annoy her so much until she brings me to the nearest Jollibee branch available to eat ChickenJoy. Yes, okay I admit maybe that could let you think I was a spoiled brat, but I wasn’t(self serving bias, ehehe). I believe that the advertising and the packaging of the product was highly effective and that led to my annoying(yet highly effective) behavior.

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This made me think about how big of a role advertising plays in food. Research shows that Kraft Foods spent $1.5 billion in 2007 on advertising in the United States alone, whereas PepsiCo spent $1.31 billion and McDonalds spent $1.14 billion (Advertising Age Data Center 2008). Considering that big bucks were involved in advertising food, the obvious question comes to play: What is the most effective way do so?

The most apparent answer is to describe the taste of food right? This is expected since the ad is for food after all. The less obvious and consequently seldom used solution is to bring attention to the unique multisensory aspects of taste perception. In a research by Elder & Krishna(2010), the focal point of the study was how and why multisensory advertising for food ads can enhance taste perceptions.

Their study proposed that multisensory ads resulted in higher taste perceptions than ads focusing on taste alone. They also tried to identify different variables distributed in three experiments in order to verify if this hypothesis is true. In the first study, they showed that something that is as simple as a slogan could affect taste perceptions for gum. Specifically, the study showed that a multiple-sense slogan(Stimulate your senses) led to higher taste perceptions than a single-sense slogan(“Long Lasting Flavor”). Study 2 which focused on potato chips replicated and extended these results by showing the effect of verbal sensory advertising on taste perceptions. The single-sense (multiple-sense alterations in parenthesis) ad read:

“Our potato chips deliver the taste you crave. From the first bite you’ll savor the rich barbecue flavor (smell) and enjoy the delicious salty taste (crunchy texture)—our potato chips are the perfect choice for your snacking.”

Finally, study 3 which was about popcorn advertising further explicated the deliberate, top-down nature of the results, showing that the effect of the ad on taste perceptions is moderated by cognitive resource availability. It was identified that the multiple-sense ad (vs. a single-sense ad) has a smaller effect on enhancing taste perceptions under the condition of cognitive load. In other words, when people are exposed to activities that require cognitive processing before exposure to the ad, the multiple-sense ad and single-sense ad result in similar taste perception.

It was a very fascinating study because I never took the time to think about these things. Whenever I see an advertisement, i don’t think about the content of it, and instead I focus on the actions that I would do after that like shop for clothes, eat that thing, drink with friends, etc. Considering the fact that big-ass billboards are all around Manila, this study made me realize that there’s more to just merely “play with words” when ads like these are conceptualized. Okay, now I give way to all these amazing advertisements that have caught our attention, stuck in our heads, and made us eat our hearts out. 😉

Okay, enough now. All these food commercials is making me hungry. Which means, they were effective! :))

Hoping you had a great multisensory ad viewing experience,

Adi. 😉

Elder, R. & Krishna, A. (2010). The Effects of Advertising Copy on Sensory Thoughts and Perceived Taste. Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (2). 748-756. doi: 10.1086/605327

I Need Some Inspiration!

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Why is everybody suddenly joining fun runs? The fitness craze is obvious in the society nowadays. Energy drinks are found in every store. Not to mention those fitness water drinks that are supposedly “water made better”.  Are there any easy ways to get fit? Mere “wanting to” is not enough.

A lot of my friends are jogging around the campus. Why should I be left out? I’m a bit competitive and wouldn’t want to be dead last. Even the media has been ever so pushy for fitness. Just look at all advertisements. Drinks filled with L-carnitine that “burned fat”, deodorants to prevent those stinky active armpits, socks that let you move around comfortably. Plus, the models look just incredible in their toned bodies, while holding that product that now seemed just as nice as well (an advertisement for a soda has recently caught my attention, displaying that nice, big behind while holding the minuscule bottle of drink). All those picture just make you want to push and try to achieve a more ideal body.

Indeed, media has played an important role when it comes to this. Models have great bodies to, well, model. They can be the inspiration one needs in order to start getting into shape. Xiao Wang (2010) said that media has a way of making individuals more conscious and even dissatisfied of their body. This, though, does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. Although some models appear to be stick thin while others ever so muscular, media can provide viewers with the right push into getting in shape. The stuff we see on TV and magazines have an effect on the way we perceive ourselves and our desire to change this.

The study of Wang involved 3,000 male and female college students. It was found that Fashion magazines and Sports magazines influenced women’s self efficacy and attitude toward attractive body image while Sports magazines influenced the males. Seeing the images of the models in magazines show readers that hard work does pay off, and such bodies do exist.

Yup. Exercise and tuna pays off with Angel's and Phil's body.

The reward of having a body perceived as more desirable drives one to work hard for it. For women, picture of toned and sexy women can be found in fitness magazines, while fashion magazines show really skinny models.

So skinny!...and gorgeous 😐

Males, on the other hand, find their inspiration on male magazines where there are buff, sweaty bodies. These are less seen in fashion magazines, though. And reading such materials may give them an undesirable image. Especially if they’re going for gold.

Yep.

TV advertisements do not seem to have this effect. This is probably because other than the bodies of the models or actors and actresses, there are other things for the viewer to focus on such as the behaviour of the one on screen, the way he or she talks, etc (Wang, 2010). Magazine pictures, however, have a way of making salient the chunks and curves of the models.

If a person really wanted to get one thing done, that individual will surely find a way to reach his or her goal. I’m probably having the hardest time doing so. Eating fattening food is simply the best. But I do get motivated to “try” and get into shape whenever I see the skinny me years ago. It was proof that exercise did pay off. Losing weight was a reward to all to jogging behaviour that made me just keep on going around the acad oval. Now I just need to do it again. Gah.

 

Xiao, W. (2010). More Than Just Anorexia and Steroid Abuse: Effects of Media Exposure on Attitudes Toward Body Image and Self-Efficacy.Atlantic Journal of Communication, 18(1), 50-62. doi:10.1080/15456870903210089

Blinded By the Stars and Killed By the Killer Smile

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I would like to assume that last year, 2010, was the year when celebrities in our local scene have earned their highest income in their career so far. No, it wasn’t because more movies were screened or more albums were released during that time. The buzz last year, in fact, had nothing to do with their acting prowess or their entertaining skills. What was utilized in them was their popularity to attract the attention of  the public, but for what? Let these commercial ads tell you the answer.

 

 

Yes, you got that right! The political marketing arena last year was bombarded with ads of Dolphy, Manny Pacquiao, and  Marian Rivera, among others. They posed with the pogi or laban sign while flashing their pearly white teeth to influence the opinions and behaviors of the members of the voting public. Through their fame, they aimed to increase their candidate’s chances of winning last year’s elections. We already know what the outcome was. With the polls and the actual election results, we had the idea who got the most influential and popular celebrities in their side (and possibly, the idea who shelled out more bills to get these highly-paid artists).

Hoping that the Filipinos were more rational and critical in their choices, I would like to believe that the celebrities’ fame alone did not seal the deal for the winning candidates. Still, Regine Velasquez, Bitoy, Sarah Geronimo and the likes are now finding a lucrative career in this arena of political endorsement. This makes me think, to what extent are celebrity endorsements effective in creating impact in the political sphere?

A study by Veer, Becirovic and Martin in 2010 tried to provide the answer to this question. The missing link between celebrity endorsers and their impacts on the public seems to be the attitude of the the voters themselves on politics or what is referred to as political salience. This construct represents how involved and interested the voters are on politics and political issues.

Can David Beckham score the goal for his endorsed political party? I can hear a yes from the low political salience voters AND all the ladies out there!

In their study, the researchers created ads with both celebrity and non-celebrity endorsers. A short list of celebrities was created based on the results of a pretest that rated their likelihood of appearing in a campaign ad. The celebrities that appeared in their ads include Kate Winslet, Lily Allen, Helen Mirren, David Beckham, James Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins. Along with their photos is the slogan “I vote Conservative, do you?”. The researchers presented these ads to their participants who were primed on two salience conditions- either high or low. The political salience manipulation was done by letting them read articles with and without political themes. They then collected written responses regarding their participants’ attitudes towards the ads, endorser and political party and their voting intentions.

Their results show that celebrity endorsers’ effects on attitude and voting intention are significantly mediated by political salience. This means that the charms of celebrities work for people who are not stimulated with politics- those who come to the voting precincts without even doing their research on the candidates. Thankfully, the celebrity magic does not work for all, particularly to those who are engaged with politics and who actively think of political issues. The results also show that celebrities alone, sans the political salience variable, do not have a significant difference with non-celebrity endorsers in terms of affecting the voting public.

Their findings are truly relevant especially to us who have the power to elect (and remove) people in government positions. We should be warned of the dangers of certain types of voters who are easily influenced by some showbiz personality. If we isolate ourselves from political issues and even current events, we run the risk of being swayed simply by the  killer smile, charms and popularity of endorsers. As part of the eligible voters, we must do our part in scrutinizing the “hopefuls”. We are not just simply choosing between consumer products or brands that celebrities typically endorse.  We are determining a far more important course and that is the future of our nation. That killer smile can literally kill our country’s progress if we remain passive, easily blinded by the “stars”.

Reference:

Ekant, Veer, Becirovic, Ilda, & Martin, Brett (2010) If Kate voted conservative would you? The role of
celebrity endorsements in political party advertising. European Journal of Marketing, 44(3/4), pp.
436-450

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http://free-extras.com/images/david_beckham_soccer-2643.htm

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