Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Podium training

The manipulation of images to portray a particular message; often a less than truthful message e.g. airbrushed photos, is something that we have discussed on this site many times.

In this post we will look at photo manipulation from a different prospective. One associated with high level sporting events such as the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games that are currently taking place in Edinburgh.

The adage "A picture is worth a thousand words," tells us that complex ideas and messages can be more easily transmitted and understood if they are communicated as an image.

It’s interesting to note that images are often (professional images almost always) staged, manipulated or choreographed in order to send a particular message, such as those used in marketing to sell a product/service.

This week in the BBC documentary ‘The games people play’, ex-rugby international John Beattie enlighteningly discussed how sporting images are often used to deliver political messages.

“I think I first saw what a big sporting event was really like, when I went to the Melbourne Commonwealth Games”, he said.

“I ended up interviewing people who had been media trained”, he continued. “What I had not expected is that the choreography even extended to the way in which the athletes behaved on the podium.

“I interviewed an Australian swimmer and she said how she was ‘fed up’. I said will you look perfectly chirpy. And she said, ‘ well I have had podium training’. I said what do you mean podium training?

“She said ‘even if you lose a race you are viewed around the world as an Australian. You have to get out the pool, put your tracksuit on, brush your hair, get on that podium and smile like crazy’.

“Athletes have to wave to the right, the left, the middle and smile. Even if you win bronze. She won a bronze medal.

“It struck me, what have we got to? We are teaching people how to behave on a podium. Is that really to do with modern sport?

"What it takes away is all that spontaneity … the reality …. the truth.

“What you really want is the humanity of the person, this great person who has done this since there were six or seven years old... What you've got is athletes being trained to be like politicians”.

We can all become media aware. Next time you look at still or moving images; don’t just accept them on face value. Instead, take time to ask yourself what message they are transmitting and whether or not you agree with/buying into it.


Friday, July 25, 2014

StopTheBeautyMadness campaign

The #StopTheBeautyMadness campaign is aimed at challenging beauty stereotypes.
The campaigners have created 27 'ads' (5 below), using existing stock photos and then added a stereotypical (in their view)’ comment to it.

The home page of the website states:

“There comes a time when you have simply had enough..

Enough of the impossible standards. Enough of the "ideal" image. Most of all, enough of the feeling of NOT ENOUGH when it comes to your own beauty.”
The campaign was created by Robin Rice. "My main mission”, Robin told the Huffington Post, “is to say if women are worried about their weight and their looks to the point that they're not actually putting themselves in the world, then we're missing out on some really extraordinary individuals and some really important conversations we need to be having,"

Comments on the Huffington Post’s website varied from the black and white, those in support and those against, to include all the shades of grey in between:

Zeomne Delinden:
I totally disagree with these images, I think they're perpetuating these kinds of thoughts more than helping at all….
Totally counter-productive. Implying someone is fat to imply that they're not fat??

These pics are focusing only on image in societal value. So there's no concern about people being judged for how much money they have or don't have? That kind of judgment runs rampant too. Fashion, intelligence, talent.. There are so many things people are judged on.

But I guess appearance is the only thing that matters? Way to go, ads. >.<

Bonnie Upton:
I think you missed out on the nuance of each photo...Of course you are entitled to your perspective and how you received those messages, but my experience/impressions of the ads was different.

Jeremy Jimenez:
I have to agree with Zeomne here, these images are actually perpetuating the thoughts here instead of combating them.

Some of them I wouldn't have had a clue to what I was supposed to get from them until I read the messages; the messages are forced and almost over-the-top.

David Fuller
I think if you largely don't "get" these ads, or had trouble deciphering them, they weren't aimed at you. There ARE people out there who think that even very thin girls are 'too fat' - and the moment you can see a bone protruding? Well then they're too skinny!

…. Stop the madness, indeed. Bravo for this. We need more campaigns along these lines.

Visit  website


Monday, July 21, 2014

Bikini revolution

It was not that long ago that the term ‘bikini body’, was a way of describing a slim, perfectly proportioned and toned body. It usually, not always, belonged to a young and/or childless female.

While the term ‘bikini body’ may still conjure up the above mental image, the reality is very different.

While on holiday this month, I noticed that a type of bikini revolution had taken place; while I was looking the other way.

In the not very distant past, swimming costumes outnumbered bikini’s in the ratio of 10:1 (conservative estimate). I can vividly remember conversations among my friends and peers on the important and often emotive issue of whether or not one of us was ‘to fat to wear a bikini’.

If my recent holiday has taught me anything; it is that things have changed and that a bikini, not a full costume, is now the normal beach attire, rather than the exception.

Bikini’s were worn by 70-80% of the females. They were worn by babies, elderly women (in their seventies) and all the ages in between. I surveyed them on women who ranged from those who were very slender to those who were morbidly obese.

“She just doesn’t care”, I heard someone (a man) comment, when a very large lady (mid 30’s) wearing a pink bikini walked by.

“It’s not that she doesn’t care”, I thought to myself. “She has decided to wear a bikini and she has the necessary confidence to do so. It’s really all about her… and what she wants to do.

“What other people think about her decision is not something she concerns herself with; to the extent that it will deter her from wearing the attire of her choice”.

Our last blog, ‘Bikini and colostomy bags’, in which we discussed 23 year old Bethany Townsend's decision to wear a bikini, despite the fact that it revealed her colostomy bags; is a good example of this.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Bikini and colostomy bags

This picture is of 23 year old Bethany Townsend, unashamedly wearing a bikini that reveals her colostomy bags. She has suffered from Crohn's disease since she was three.

Bethany took the photos while holidaying in Mexico at the end of last year. The image was posted on Crohn's and Colitis UK’s Facebook page, where it went viral and has since been viewed by more than 10 million people.

The chief executive of the charity, David Barker, said: "The feedback we've had had been really encouraging and people are really drawing strength from it.
"We need greater understanding, greater awareness and a higher profile for these conditions, and Bethany is helping us to do that."

"When I first had the bags fitted I was devastated; the reaction to this photo has really helped me accept them,” Bethany said responding to the overwhelmingly positive feedback.

Wearing a bikini in public and then sharing the photo online took courage that is admirable.

Hopefully, Bethany’s brave act will inspire other Crohn's sufferers and many suffering from other illnesses, to embrace their condition and not let it unnecessarily limit how they live their lives.