Archive by Author

Dove: Washing Away Negative Self-Image One Commercial at a Time

7 Nov

Group: Women

Pro-Social Media Example: Dove Soap “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” Campaign

Summary:  “I can do for you what Martin did for the people. Ran by the men but the women keep the tempo,
it’s very seldom that you’re blessed to find your equal. Still play my part and let you take the lead role
Believe me.”

The above lyrics come from the song “Upgrade You” by international mega star Beyonce. In the song, Beyonce is explaining to her male companion that although he is a man and can “get the job done” alone, it will always take the special touch of a woman to upgrade whatever he is doing to the next level. Women are indeed the heartbeat of much of what is done in society, the quiet force that supports, cultivates and enhances leaderships, movements and activities in society. In her song, Beyonce is paying homage to women and letting men know that despite the success they may attain, they always will need a woman in their life. Bring life to the age old notion that “behind every good man, there is a good woman.”  However, how can women reach this level of empowerment when they don’t even feel or understand their worth? Is it possible to achieve these levels of confidence when you can’t even appreciate the women you see in the mirror? How can you support a man, when you don’t even see the worth and beauty of your own skin? Realizing that there was indeed an issue with women in regards to their self-esteem/ self perception Dove Soap launched the “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” campaign a shocking campaign that compares women’s negative percetptions of themselves to how others truly see them.

Application/ Analysis:   Women are often their own worst beauty critics and shockingly, only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. On the surface, the concept of identifying yourself as “beautiful may seem shallow, but has greater implications than simply sulking in the mirror.  Self perception plays a role in the way we communicate with the world around us, and how we execute tasks in our daily lives. Women often sell themselves short because we are not please with our looks and may overlook or pass up opportunities because we do not feel good enough or pretty enough to achieve them.  We fill our heads with these self-debilitating thoughts and in turn do not give our best selves to the world. In a riveting commercial/documentary Dove decided to tackle these issues through the documentation of experiments. Committed to creating a world where beauty is “source of confidence, not anxiety.”  Dove executed their experiment by having random group of women describe themselves to a sketch artist who was on the other side of the room.  The women had all met each other previously, but the sketch artist had never seen these women and was simply drawing them based upon their explanations and descriptions. Woman, after woman, described in uncomfortable detail, their flaws and the things they hated about their faces, hair and features.

In the next step of the experiment, Dove had the artist ask the ladies to describe one of the ladies they had just met. As the women described their new friends, they gushed about their beauty and the features that they found attractive, and based off of their descriptions the artist created a picture of that particular woman. In what may be considered the climax of the experiment, women were able to see the sketch of themselves that they described; next to the one that another woman had described of them. With 100% accuracy, the picture of themselves that another woman had described was more beautiful and played up the features that many of the woman said they hated about themselves. Many of the women were left shocked and amazed because in that moment they realized that they indeed were hurting themselves with their own words, declarations and criticisms. The effectiveness of this pro-social media project is that is made women think twice before criticizing themselves and helped them realize their own beauty.

Concluion: This pre-social commercial/experiment suggests women should take pride in themselves because their critiques of themselves often don’t align with the way others receive and view them.


Get Wise with Tim Wise!

24 Oct

On a quaint Wednesday evening, hundreds of college students, faculty members and community members gathered in a lecture hall at the University of Cincinnati. However, unlike the myriad of other night classes that were being conducted across campus this “class” wasn’t for the faint of  heart, it was a space, a safe zone for people from various walks of life to discuss topics that are often avoided, cringe worthy and uncomfortable; topics such as racism, privilege and prejudice. On tonight, October 23, 2013 I had the esteemed privilege of being graced with the presence of anti-racism activist and writer Tim Wise at the University of Cincinnati and tuned in as he elucidated about the aforementioned topics and the implications they have on people, systems and institutions. From his direct approach to his overt knowledge of his content, I was immediately drawn to this dynamic speaker. I found myself engrossed in the content and amazed that this white man, a man who by the general rules of society is “normal” and privileged could speak so clearly on the experiences, oppressions and injustices that people of color face both historically and on a day to day basis.

What I admired most about Tim Wise was his blatant honesty. Before he delved into the topics of racism and the structure of our society, he first acknowledged that as a person of privilege, he will never be able to fully relate to disenfranchised and marginalized people. Instead however, as educated and aware member of society, he will use his status to promote lived equity for all. Awareness, he said, is the first step to being able to fully understand the context of the world, are living in the implications of racism and prejudice thinking that frames out society. He expounded upon the topic using the example of the room in which we were all seated, a lecture hall with two long rows of steps on either sides of the seats. He made a point that as we all entered the room by foot; few of us probably gave much thought to the room’s structure. We came in, we sat down and we prepared for the speech. However, Tim challenged us by asking how many people had at least for one moment stopped to think about how the structure of that particular room affect someone with a physical disability or handicap. How would their mobility be affected by aisle of stairs? Did we even think about it how we took our mobility for granted? For most of us in that room, the overwhelming answer was no. It’s not that we were bad people or hated people with disabilities it’s just that we were so busy living in our privilege of being able bodies that  that we were ignorant to how the current institution, in this case the classroom was set up to fail handicapped individuals. In this same way, many individuals of the white race are so consumed in their privilege that it is almost unbeknownst to them. They are ignorant to the systemic implications of racism and prejudice because it simply doesn’t affect them personally.

In his exigence, Tim made it very clear that racism manifests itself in the various forms, social capital included. White people permeate various job markets and positions and pass positions to  their buddy’s and people they know, completely excluding people of color who may be just as qualified, it not more. In one of his most shocking statistics, he mentioned that white men ages 25-29 make on average, just as much, if not more as their minority counterparts who have at least 25 more years of experience. These people of color are not given the same chances as the majority, but yet are profiled and arrested more often, than their Caucasian counterparts and stereotyped as lazy and government dependent.  It’s this way of thinking, this passive for of exclusion that leads to disproportion and unequal representation of minorities, or as Tim Wise puts them, black and brown people. This segment of his speech instantly tied in to concepts that we learned in class and it was clear that we still have much work to do as people first, but then as a society.

Overall, I am the better for having experience Tim Wise. I only hope that the inspiration and insight that was gained by so many students transcend into action and isn’t a mere fad or feeling of excitement that fades fast. It’s time we stop ignoring the issues, using flowery language and generalizing and truly get down to the heart of the issues of privilege and racism to make change.


Undercover Boss

23 Sep

Group: Working class/Upper class

Television Show: Undercover Boss

Summary: Many workers feel frustrated at one point or another in a given day on the job. The occasional underperformance, sigh of frustration and mild complaint when the boss isn’t around is almost typical in the lives of the everyday employee. However, what happens when the co-worker you’re complaining about your job to is really the chief brand officer of your company posing as a new hire under your leadership? Few people will ever have to face this reality, but this debacle was the reality of Ronnie, a shift supervisor of the Boston Market in Dulluth, Georgia in an episode of “Undercover Boss.”  In this episode, Sara Bittorf, the chief brand officer of Boston Market, posed as new hire Rachel Rand, a middle aged woman with aspirations of one day opening her own restaurant who was appearing on a “second chance” reality television series. Under the leadership of Ronnie, Rachel learns the ins and outs of the particular Boston Market, and gets a keen view of Ronnie’s feelings about his job and the customers that patron the establishment. At one point, Ronnie elucidates on his distain towards customers, especially the elderly and young, even going as far as to refer to customers as “bitches” behind their backs. Sara, furious at Ronnie’s outright lack of respect for customers is enraged and in the episode’s climax, reveals herself as the brand officer, and fires Ronnie on the spot, making him the first person ever to lose his job on air since the show premiered in 2009. As a brand manager, Sara believed that it was her responsibility to adhere to the principles and standards of Boston Market and that in order to be loyal, she must remove any obstructions that may impede upon the atmosphere and brand the company has worked so hard to create. Upon realizing who “Rachel” really was, Ronnie appeared shocked and realized that his job was indeed on the line.

Although Ronnie was an extreme case, the episode also chronicled the experiences of Sara posing as “Rachel” in Boston Market locations across the county. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she met AJ, a drive through worker at the restaurant who was both efficient and competent despite only being at the job for three months, even beating “Rachel” at various timing tasks when she simply couldn’t keep up. AJ impressed Sara, and  she was moved by his story of coming to work at Boston Market after a two year stint in prison that was spawned by joblessness. There was also Sash, a congenial assistant general manager in Tampa, Florida who worked with “Rachel” at the carving stations, showing her extreme patience and mildness. Unlike Ronnie, who was summoned to joblessness, these two workers were gifted in the “reveal”. AJ was given a gift of $20,000  and Sash was told that she will be promoted to oversee a program that makes sure all Boston Market employees take full advantage of their break times, which was previously not occurring. She was also given a check of $20,000 so that she can quit her second job. In this episode, all three employees learned a valuable lesson about the world of work and gains and losses that come as a result of either productivity or negligence.

 Application/ Analysis:  “Undercover Boss” is a multi Emmy Award-winning television franchise series created by Stephen Lambert. It features the experiences of senior executives working undercover in their own companies to investigate how their firms really work and to identify how they can be improved, as well as to reward hard-working employees. While entertaining in its execution, this show has inherent undertones of class ideologies and the hegemonic notion that concludes that the individuals with the power make the rules. This assumption leads to a strong class system keeps that society’s power structure in place. In this particular episode, Sara Bittorf a senior level executive, poses as a blue collar worker, “Rachel.” In an effort to fully immerse herself in the day to day activities of Boston Market employees, Sara decides to “roll up her sleeves and get dirty.” When she encounters Ronnie, it is clear that she, Sara, is conflicted with her persona Rachel. Conscious of her class and status in relation to Ronnie, Sara must put her authoritativeness to rest and try to understand where this manager is coming from. Judging from her body language, it is clear that she is disgusted by his behavior and that she views him as her subordinate. Although Ronnie is a bit over the top in expressing his disdain towards his job, specifically the customers, it brings into question whether or not Sara was justified in her decision of firing him after only shadowing him for a couple days. After all, he is the one working extended hours, day in and day out and dealing with the small details of store operations that Sara could only imagine. However, Sara sees his remarks as disrespect and views Ronnie as a reflection of the company’s brand. As a “brand ambassador”, she uses her position of power to her advantage and fires him.

When viewed critically, it is clear to see the role that class plays within a given work environment. There are those who make the rules, and those who adhere to them. There are those who make decisions and those who follow. There are white collar executives and blue collar workers. This hodgepodge of “leaders and followers” leads to class divisions within the workplace that frame perceptual sets or world views. These ways of viewing the world around us, in this instance work contribute to the way we relate to one another and the various ways in which we perceive people we encounter in the workplace and vice versa. Sara, an executive is probably used to an  information-transfer approach to leadership in the workplace where information flows from one person to another, thus managers communicate when they transfer to subordinates. In this perspective, it is clear to see how and miscommunication can occur when the message received is not what the sender intended. Ronnie, very well may have enjoyed his job as whole, but was annoyed by the rigid bureaucracy of day in and day out store relations and operations. Sara unable to find common ground or shared meaning with Ronnie because she simply doesn’t have to, she has power and because she is not pleased with his performance decides to fire him, leaving him with no source of income and widening the class chasm between the two.

Conversely, when Sara is pleased with the performance of AJ and Sash, she rewards them with monetary gain and promotion. Sara is able to enhance their “class state” because by her managerial standards they are up to par. This is another example of how class influences society. In essence, they were able to advance because someone in power agreed with them, and ultimately allowed them to. While some may argue that this is the “American Dream” ideal, working hard to advance, it can also be viewed as a hegemonic class hierarchy infiltrated in a given work environment.

Conclusion: This episode suggests that class is a dominant ideology in the work force. Whether implicit or explicit, the hierarchal build within a given work environments lead to class, class separations and divisions of labor. In a system based on economic competitiveness, occupation and income lead to status and thus determine class.


Sex and the City

12 Sep

Television Show: Sex and the City

Summary:  I watched an episode of “Sex and the City” that aired as a re-run on CW at 11 p.m.  In this episode, Carrie Bradshaw, the sitcoms’ main character is caught in a moral debacle. She is currently having an extended affair with one of her ex boyfriends “Big” who is now married to a youthful, pristine woman by the name of Natasha. Fed up with being Big’s “rebound” woman, Carrie gives him and ultimatum and asks him to choose between her and his current wife. The conversation takes place before Big heads to work and leaves Carrie in his apartment to get ready for the day. Before leaving, Big states that he will call his wife, who is vacationing in the Hamptons, and tell her about the affair, if it will make Carrie happy. However, when faced with that reality, Carrie states that she needs more time to fully be at peace with that decision. Once Big has left for the day, Carrie proceeds to get ready as she normally would, she is in a place that feels all too familiar, and yet she is a stranger.  Unbeknownst to Carrie, Natasha left her vacation from the Hamptons early, and when she finds Carrie in her home, chases after her to have a conversation about her affair with her husband.  Filled with emotion and rage, Natasha misses a step as she chases Carrie and she slips down the steps and breaks her tooth. Carrie, horrified at the bloody disaster of a situation hails a cab to take Natasha to the hospital. Once there, Big arrives, frantic and worried about his wife, something that Carrie will never be.  In this moment, it is clear to Carrie that no matter how available she makes herself or how steamy or passionate their affair seems, she will never be his wife, and he will always choose his wife over her.

Application/ Analysis:  Sex and the City is a television show that was made popular in the late nineties and the early two thousands. The show, themed and based in the heart of New York City chronicles the experiences of Carrie Bradshaw and her three best friends and they brave the “big apple” and conquer everything from love, friendships, careers and cantankerous relationships. The main character, Carrie Bradshaw is a quirky, freelance writer who has her own column in a local paper entitled, “Sex and the City”, hence the title of the show. While Carrie is warm, and a bit unpretentious, she possesses this innate nervousness that seems to govern her every decision and judgment; she’s always asking questions and fretting about her love life and her social theories. While Carrie is a self-motivating, career oriented woman, she can never quite seem to conquer her love life. One one hand, she defies traditional feminine roles that reduce women to subservient beings that are congenial and mild, yet by the same token, she is a victim of this notion that she needs a man in her life to make her whole. Even in a show where the main characters are all women, there is an inherent patriarchal ideology that guides that show, a “natural” male dominance that allows men to have the final say so, regardless of how thriving, powerful or successful a woman is.  In this episode in particular, Carrie’s happiness and sense of security lies solely in the possession of Big. In essence, she is to be used at his disposal for sexual purposes, and then cascaded to the side when he desires to go back to his wife at his leisure. While some may argue, that in this manner, Carrie is expressing her sexual liberty, it is hard to deny that the great paradox that the same thing that “liberates” her is keeping her in bondage. Carrie’s reality is faced in the moment that Big chooses his wife over her at the hospital and she realizes that she will never be a priority to him. But why does Big have to have the final say? What does this say about our society and the notions and values that we, accept and perpetuate? This hyper consumption of the ideals of patriarchy, both implicit and explicit showcase the unobtrusive nature of media that trough normalcy and repetition forms consumer’s ideological state apparatuses. The producers’ use the dramatic climax of Natasha falling down the stairs and stint at the hospital to metaphorically show that no matter is she falls, she will still rise to the top, because she has a man to pick her back up, her husband. This is something Carrie can only have limited access to, and thus, will never be complete.

Conclusion: This episode suggest that patriarchy is a dominant ideology that leads to  internalized philosophies of what it means to be masculine and feminine. This sense of “male dominance” is always present, even when a woman is central and making her own decision.