Apr 13th, 2016, 12:14 AM

Empowerment Through Media Literacy Workshop

By Eva Gudnason
Image Credit: Cody Campell and Zoe Denison
It's time to reclaim our bodies.

Every day we see advertisements promoting how products can change our lives for the better, or magazines explaining how you can lose 10 pounds in a week. Although we might shake our heads at such preposterous promotions, it can subconsciously affect how we think we should look. That in turn takes a toll on our mental health, leading to a distorted image of our bodies, ideals and desires. 

As such, the Intro to Media & Communications class is partnering up with Sandrine Godt, head of AUP's Health and Wellness office to address this issue. The first part of the workshop features presentations about the depictions of femininity and masculinity in society and how that changes through cultural beauty ideals both now and in the future. They're also putting together a video asking male AUP students to name their least masculine attribute, in order to make the workshop discussion more personal and interactive. 

During the second part, guest speaker psychologist Chloe Menon will speak about eating disorders. Although she's not officially partnered with AUP, she has worked closely with Sandrine and been a guest speaker for our Sexual Aggression Awareness campaign. She also provided students with psychological support during the Paris attacks back in November. 

It's a discussion that everyone can relate to, myself included. We all want the right and freedom to make our own decisions concerning our bodies, but we sometimes fall prey to the superficial parts of society. 

In light of this upcoming discussion, I asked my friends of what their thoughts were on the subject.

Alisse Palmer says, "I definitely think that the media creates unrealistic standards. I never had a problem with my arms until I saw a magazine article criticizing a celebrity's arm flab, I thought my legs were okay until the internet commented on how crucial shapely legs are... just last night a woman told me I need more curves to fit into the dress I was wearing. The media can set a bad example and it's important to make sure that the standards you use are your own, not ones influenced by society."

And Carolina Nugnes​, who has worked during fashion week at Phillip Lim, says that she's "worked a lot with sales people, and they're very connected to a set aesthetic and image of everything. [Plus] they barely eat [during fashion week] in the showroom, even though there's a lot of food."

Carolina also mentions, "at the end of the internship, [they] have this Q&A, and I asked them what they look for in applying interns, and the Sales Director of the Europe and Middle East and she replied that 'what they basically see is if the girl, first of all, looks nice because the aesthetics in the fashion week/world are very important.  [However] for Phillip Lim, they don't necessarily look at body image as maybe Chanel would, who has workers and models that are completely anorexic, [because] Phillip Lim is more progressive. There are a lot more sales representatives that don't correspond at all to the body types we think fashion should correspond to, even though it's stupid to think that if you have to work in fashion, you do have to have a certain body type. But that's why I love it [at Philip Lim], they are very open and hire sales representatives based mostly on their knowledge rater than body type." 

On the more personal side, she "hates those ads" that try to sell something by making you feel even worse about yourself. She said Victoria's Secret ads "make you feel terrible. Looking at it, you say to yourself, why do I exist?". You ain't the only one, honey. 

For those who want to seek out counseling and support, click here. If you're interested in attending the workshop, the details are below.

April 19th from 5:00 - 6:30 PM
Combes 103/104
Food and refreshments will be provided.

Also, here's a video discussing being 'pretty' by comedian Kate Makkai:

Katie Makkai - Pretty