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    • 00:05

      [Celebrity (body image, idealised bodies, etc.)]

    • 00:10

      DR. LEE BARRON: My name is Doctor Lee Barron,and I teach at Northumbria University.[Dr. Lee Barron, Principal Lecturer Programme Director,Media and Communication, Northumbria University]My specialism is celebrity, which I teach and write about.This tutorial discusses the debatesurrounding how images of celebrity bodiesare culturally represented, and howsocial actors react to them.The tutorial will cover the history of such effect,and examine key aspects of the debate,such as fashion, fitness DVDs, cosmetic surgeryand the digital manipulation of celebrity imagesto render them perfect.

    • 00:41

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: [Celebrity worship]Considering the rise of celebrity product and serviceendorsements, the author Cooper Lawrencenotes that the primary rationale for companiesto pay substantial sums to celebrityis to tap into levels of public worship they attract.Consequently, the equation is that if we worship celebritiesand aspire to their lifestyle, who betterto influence our decisions.

    • 01:09

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Who better to tell us what to buy, or who we need to be.There is, of course, a need to be cautious here,as marketing research routinely stresses that consumers do notslavishly purchase products just because a notable celebrityendorses them.Connection to the brand is also paramount.However, the idea of celebrities serving as figures of influenceis potent, and it predates the advertising and endorsementexpansion that has arisen in recent years,and can be traced back to the classic era of early Hollywood.

    • 01:42

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: As Dana Thomas states within "Deluxe",the influx of top designers to dress movie starsinspired considerable public interest.For example, the designer Adrian's gowns for Greta Garboresulted in the actress receiving copious numbersof letters from fans imploring her to beable to buy them from her.Similarly, when Adrian produced a gown wornby Joan Crawford for her role in the 1932 film Letty Lynton,Macy's sold half a million copies,while Grace Kelly's wedding dress, designed by MGM's HelenRose for Kelly's 1956 marriage to Prince RainierIII of Monaco, was one of the most copied ever.

    • 02:23

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Pamela Church Gibson states within her study of celebrityand fashion, the 'intense interest in Hollywood stars,which combines a wish to emulate their style and perhapstheir perfect bodies...has lasted for a hundred years'.In the early decades of Hollywood,new magazines dedicated to movie starswere increasingly filled with featuresthat promoted their fashionable star styles,and offered them as sources of emulation to readers.

    • 02:50

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: This is a process that has continued within fashion-and celebrity-magazines, and stars have longbeen influential with regards to styles being adoptedby the public, from Jennifer Aniston'shairstyle in the early seasons of the hit TV showFriends inspiring the "Rachel" request in hair sounds,Sarah Jessica Parker's link via her Sex and the City character,Carrie Bradshaw, with Manolo Blahnik,or Cheryl Cole's hand tattoo design.

    • 03:21

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Yet celebrity influence extends beyond fashion,because celebrities promote not only ways of dressingand making up, but have also beeninstrumental in creating the desirable bodyshapes of each decade.This view resonates with Naomi Wolf's now-classic work,which proposed that women in the Western worldare routinely subjected to a prevailing beauty myth,based upon the cultural perceptionthat the quality called beauty objectivelyand universally exists.

    • 03:53

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: She argues that women must want to embody it,and men must want to possess women who embody it.Wolf argues that the parameters of the beauty mythhave been routinely transmitted via fashion magazinesand advertising imagery, and it's desirabilityis reflected in the growth and powerof the diet and cosmetic surgery industries, both of whichhave expanded significantly since the publication of Wolf'swork in the early 1990s.

    • 04:22

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: [Celebrity fitness role models]Contemporaneously, a key trend hasbeen the rise of the celebrity fitness video and DVDmarket, in which various celebrities have presentedthemselves as trainers to take viewerson step-by-step workouts designedto emulate their bodies.

    • 04:44

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: From Jane Fonda in the early 1980s to Geordie Shore's VickyPattison, celebrities present themselves as role models.However, as Vanessa Russell notes,their on-screen image is produced through the assistanceof physical trainers, makeup artists, dietitians, stylists,lighting technicians, and expert choreographers.

    • 05:05

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: The public lacks such factors.But copying celebrity goes further than this.As Hamish Pringle argues, a more radical dimensionof celebrity influence is that in relationto cosmetic surgeries that are undertakento emulate specific celebrity attributes, in the formof demands for surgeries such as breast implants, lip plumping,liposuction, Botox, and buttock implants,the latter popularized by the hip hop star Nicki Minaj.

    • 05:35

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: [Impossible ideals: Digital Manipulation]One of the most severe effects commonly attributedto the media's glamorization of celebrities perceivedto possess ideal body shapes is that it'sunrealistic for everyday people to achieve this.As such, a link between negative self-perceptionsof body image in relation to media-communicated bodilyideals, and the adoption of harmful eating behaviorssuch as anorexia nervosa, have been extensively investigated.

    • 06:10

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Although a complex issue with regardto how and why people acquire anorexia and eating disorders,the feminist writer Susan Bordo neverthelesslinks it with the growing postwar cultural obsessionwith keeping our body slim, tight, and young, and meaningsof contemporary body and beauty ideals.

    • 06:31

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: And this is all the more problematicwhen the reality of celebrity images within magazinesand advertising can be doubted.For instance, in the view of Margo DeMello,many of the images of women within modern mediadiscourses actually promote standards of beautythat are utterly unattainable for most women.

    • 06:51

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: However, this is because the celebrities, or models, whichare the subject of such imagery are frequentlysubjected to 'Photoshopping' visual techniques thatalter the images before they are communicated publicly.Hence, the perfect bodies that saturate consumer cultureare invariably the result of deliberate,digital manipulation to the extent that waists are reduced,thighs thinned, and facial lines smoothed away,with the result that frequently the Photoshopping isso overdone that the results no longer even look realisticallyhuman.

    • 07:28

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: However, there have been serious political backlashesagainst the practice of airbrushing celebrity images,and the potentially harmful influence they may exercise.For instance, within the United Kingdom, a number of complaintswere leveled against the cosmetics company Lancomeby the British Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson in responseto a L'Oreal advertising campaignfeaturing Julia Roberts and Christy Turlingtonon the grounds that they were excessively airbrushed.

    • 07:57

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: The complaints were upheld, and the campaign was ultimatelybanned in the UK.Furthermore, there are also critical voicesfrom within celebrity culture, with a notable examplebeing that of the teenage singer Lorde who criticized imagesof her live performances that had digitally removedall traces of her acne scars.

    • 08:18

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: And she tweeted alternative images thatrevealed her flaws to her fans.[Questions and activities]Finally, I want to pose these questions.Do you think that celebrities havea strong impact on how men and women feel about their bodies?

    • 08:40

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Looking at fashion magazines such as Graziaor Men's Health, what strikes you as visually significant,and what do you think the message of these magazines is?Examining fashion magazine and advertising images,why do you think that digital manipulation or 'airbrushing'is so prevalent?

    • 09:03

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: Editors defend the practice of digital manipulationon the grounds that the public knowsthat it is consuming 'fantasy' and that thisis the pleasure of celebrity.Do you agree with this?So, I posed some challenging questions there.Hopefully, they'll help you criticallyunderstand modern celebrity culture.

    • 09:24

      DR. LEE BARRON [continued]: To explore this in more detail, please read my book,Celebrity Cultures.


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Dr. Lee Barron discusses the societal impact of celebrity representation and influence, looking particularly at fashion, fitness DVDs, cosmetic surgery, and beauty ideals. Do celebrities have a strong impact on body image? And why is digital manipulation so prevalent?

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Dr. Lee Barron discusses the societal impact of celebrity representation and influence, looking particularly at fashion, fitness DVDs, cosmetic surgery, and beauty ideals. Do celebrities have a strong impact on body image? And why is digital manipulation so prevalent?

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