The thematic topic that I choose for the semester was fashion in fiction, focusing in the fictional areas of literature, television, and cinema and the roles they play regarding the expression of one’s gender and sexuality. Because of this theme, for my final project I wanted to create a piece of artwork that acted as commentary on society and how Bodylore itself comes into play by focusing on how the media communicates to the public its ideals regarding the body and the expression of one’s sexuality through television and movies. The collage that I created will hopefully be a conceptual critique of the media and it’s depictions of society’s idealized body image in fictional settings as well as how the media both misrepresents and under-represents the LGBT community in television shows and cinema.
Regarding the depiction of society’s idealized body image in my collage, I included well known photoshopped pictures from magazines and clothing advertisements. The pictures that I used in the collage call attention to how our society today fat shames those who are not thin, even if the people that are supposedly the right size in the public’s eyes are not the right size in the eyes of the media. One of the pictures that I used showed Katy Perry from the cover of Rolling Stone magazine before and after she was photoshopped to look thinner with no “imperfections” such as cellulite or marks on her skin. Another picture that I used in the collage was of the well-known photoshopped picture of Justin Bieber from a Calvin Klein advertisement. Bieber’s torso, groin, and butt which were enlarged and made to look more muscular. Additionally, I included pictures from an Snicker’s advertisement that called out the media by saying that even photo editors get hungry sometimes. In the advertisement, the model that is used in the picture can be seen with more than two hands, one located on her shoulder, as well as missing one of the straps from her bathing suit.
The misrepresentation and underrepresentation of the LGBT community was presented in my collage through the use of quotes from actors and actresses who have played characters that were a part of the LGBT community and from previous studies done on the matter. The quotes were written in the colors of the LGBT flag and handwritten, which is done to add a more personal aspect to the collage. The quotes that were used include; “The lack of substantial LGBT characters in mainstream film and with the outdated humor and stereotypes, they suggest that Hollywood may be doing more harm than good”, “Media representation of transgender people has long remained decades behind that of gay and lesbian people”, and “Nearly three fourths of the LGBT characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming television shows were white”.
All of the quotes that were used in the collage show just how misrepresented and underrepresented the LGBT community really is, even in today’s society. Furthermore, the quotes also show that some depictions of members of the community are not as represented as others such as bisexual and asexual as well as the calling out of the media for whitewashing the community. Additionally, while looking for quotes from actors and actresses who have played LGBT characters in shows and movies, I personally noticed that the number of quotes I found from actors who played gay men were more common than others. Overall, the collage answers the question as to why learning about body studies matters and how important body studies and bodylore can be to society. Bodylore, which is the inquiry into the body’s role in communication and social meaning, and Body Studies should be taught to people of all ages, genders, sexuality, etc. The collage that I have created can be used when discussing how the media uses photoshop to market not only clothing but also the ideal bodies to the public and what people have done to achieve society’s ideal bodies (i.e. body modifications and surgeries). The collage can also be used as a visual representation of how we as a society tie our identities to our bodies and how we use our bodies to express who we are. Hopefully the collage will further the conversation of why body studies is important as well as aid in the understanding of our bodies and how the media affects what we are taught and we believe about ourselves.
McKenna Kobosko is currently a junior at Old Dominion University. She is an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Women’s Studies. She has been interested in Women’s Studies from a young age, before she even knew what Women’s Studies was. She is a fan of learning, especially when it comes to learning from what she is reading. She enjoys reading news stories on social media, as well as educational articles that focus around minorities, sexuality and its fluidity, biased dress codes, and much more. She seeks to learn as much as she can while also providing herself with many different perspectives of our society and how we as a society are socialized.