Saturday, January 17, 2015

"And The Oscar *DOESN'T* Go To..."

Last week in my American Studies class we discussed the recent buzz of the Oscar nominations. This year's Oscars will be the whitest Oscars since 1998. In class we discussed how the film Selma was snubbed of it's Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Actor. The moving film was directed by the talented Ava DuVernay and starred British actor David Oyelowo. However, the film was still nominated for best picture but the general public believes that Selma deserves more recognition. 

The headline of "Whitest Oscars Since 1998" really struck me. In comparison to other years such as last year, many Oscar nominated films had highly diverse casts such as 12 Years A Slave and Captain Phillips. Since that class discussion I have realized that is it not only African Americans that are deprived of their Oscar nominations, it is also other diverse actors as well such as Asian American actors.

After conducting further research on the web, I quickly found out on Wikipedia the International Movie Database website that there has been no Asian American actress ever to win an Oscar award for Best Actress. The only Asian American actress ever to be nominated for Best Actress was Merle Oberon in 1935. It has been eighty years since an Asian American actress has been nominated for the category of Best Actress. Take this into comparison to the twelve consecutive years that a white actress has won in the Best Actress category at the Oscars. 

Because I am an Asian-American and an actress myself, this is quite concerning. Hopefully, one day I aspire to maybe win an Oscar for my work in film. But after seeing the trend of mainly white Oscar nominees, will this even be possible? Coming from a minority Asian-American background I remember when I was a child I wondered, "Why weren't there people on the screen that looked like me?" Is this due to writers who only write supporting roles for diverse characters? Or is this due to the white supremacy society we live in today? 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Covert Messages in the Media

Recently, a blog called the Vagenda posted on their twitter page and published a "They Say We Say" post comparing tabloid headlines and reality. They were also featured on Buzzfeed for this article and you can read that article here.

While I was reading the "They Say We Say" article on Buzzfeed,  I found it to be completely absurd how celebrities were being ostracized for what they are wearing out in public. The tabloid headlines are basically saying that it is okay to judge someone based off of what they are wearing or how they look. This could potentially be sending out social expectations for women across America.

The picture to the right is a perfect example of how tabloid headlines try to degrade a woman for what she is wearing out in public. The woman featured in the photo is the outstanding actress Amy Adams. You can tell that she is wearing a comfortable and casual grey crew-neck sweatshirt and she is clearly at the super market to buy groceries. The "They Say" side of the image  makes sure to emphasis that Adams is "make-up free" and "anything but glamorous" in a Los Angeles Supermarket.The fact that the tabloid headlines choose emphasize that Adams is not wearing any make-up is setting up a social standard for women by indirectly saying; not wearing makeup in public is unacceptable. Because society is used to seeing beautiful actresses all "doll-ed up" on the red carpets, we tend to forget that they are real people too and they don't have to look "glamorous" all the time. The "We Say" side of the image brings out the truth of reality by plainly stating, "Woman buys groceries, remains 5-time academy award nominee." Even though she is not doll-ed up in full hair and makeup, she still is a talented actress and her appearance in public should degrade her professional reputation.

Is media sending out covert social expectations to their readers? If Amy Adams can't been seen out in public without her glam squad, then who can? These hidden message definitely have an affect on what we think is sociably acceptable and unacceptable. Especially in a school environment.

As final exams week is approaching, many New Trier High School students will be sporting their best "grout-fits", make-up free faces and messy hair-buns all week long. (note: "grout-fits" are completely grey outfit from head-to-toe.) In my American Studies class we had a discussion about the covert or hidden messages that New Trier High School sends its students. One of those covert messages is that you have to look presentable and dress nicely for school. Of course dressing nicely is up to interpretation but, because we go to a high school where there are unsaid social expectations for what you wear, wearing sweatpants to school everyday would not be accepted by your peers. Due to this hidden message, students take final exam week as an opportunity to dress in their most comfortable sweatpants, college sweatshirts, and sports team sweatshirts to stay comfortable during final exam week.

I find it quite interesting that the social expectation parallels between celebrities and normal people are relatively the same. There are some contrasts such as for celebrities the wide spread attention that they will receive versus the casual judging look that normal people would get. Is media really influencing our lives this much? What are tabloid headlines really saying to their readers?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Urban Outfitters Strikes Again

Recently in the United Kingdom, the Adviertisement Standards Agencey required the clothing store Urban Outfitter's to take down a photo of an underweight model in underwear briefs. The image featured a noticeably underweight model with "a significant gap between the model's thighs, and that her thighs and knees were a similar width." On the website the stated waist size of the model was 23.5 inches. Here is the image below:
Because Urban Outfitter's main target audience is young people, the ASA had concerns that this would imply that this girl is the type of girl who wears Urban Outfitters. This could possibly "impress upon that audience that the image was representative of the people who might wear Urban Outfitters' clothing, and as being something to aspire to." 

Urban Outfitters responded that it was common for clothing stores to use slim models in the underwear industry. But by using models that are unhealthily skinny, that sends out a message saying to their young target audience saying: "If you want to wear our clothes, this is what you should look like." Maybe the model could have been that weight healthily, but because it is on a popular clothing website, many costumer of different body sizes could be viewing the image. This sends out an unattainable body image to young costumers everywhere. This could potentially cause a spike of eating disorders in their target audience. 

I think that clothing stores like Urban Outfitters should keep in mind who they are selling their proudcts to. This is not the first time that Urban Outfitters has caught the public eye. Just last year the clothing store had a blood stained Kent University sweatshirt for sale. Urban Outfitters as well as other clothing stores need to take more responsibility for what they are selling to society. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

"Size Order"

 Now that the holiday season is over and the retail craze has passed, I have realized something that did not hit me before: why is it that in clothing stores the smaller sizes are always on top? Because I work in a retail clothing store, I am required to fold and size order mountains of clothing. To "size order" clothing means to fold and organize an item of clothing by the largest size on bottom and the smallest size on top. Seems pretty basic to put the largest items on the bottom because it is a bigger base for the clothes to sit on. But is there more to size ordering clothes? 

Another part of my job is to help costumers to find sizes because most people usually ruin the pile of perfectly folded clothes in order to find their size. Because the smaller sizes are on top, does this mean that retail stores favor smaller sized costumers? Usually people who wear a size extra small, small, and medium have an easy time finding their size because it is the first one on top. People who wear sizes that are bigger than a medium have to do the monotonous job of going through each of the piles to find their size, often messing up the order of the folded clothing. I often see costumers getting frustrated trying to find their size because it is below all of the smaller sizes. 

Is this some kind of a subliminal message to say that clothing stores do not want people who are larger in size to shop there? What does this say about our society? Do we as a society favor smaller people?