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Media Education Program on Young Women and Body Image in  Russian Magazines & Advertisements

Dr.Anastassia Novikova, research member of grant project for Russian Humanities Foundation (RGNF, grant N  01-06-00027) on the media education topic (Taganrog, Russia)

e-mail: alex@fedor.ttn.ru 

web: www.mediaeducation.boom.ru  www.medialiteracy.boom.ru

Actuality of the work

Media representations of such problematic aspects as gender, sexuality and body image have recently become a very important issue for Russian society. In contradistinction to the Western Europe, Canada and the USA, Russia (as a part of the Soviet Union at that time) did not know advertisement, fashion magazines or mens magazines until some glimpses of  that in the beginning of the 90s. Changes went fast like a snow ball and today we are bombarded with all these media products. The question arises how can young people (not to mention children) as the most impressionable part of the audience, be helped in formation of their healthy self-esteem and critical thinking in general.

Media construct reality. Media create myths like fairy tales did when there were no TV or cinema and so on.  They know that people like myths, like fairy tales. Especially young women do. If we look back over to Russian folk fairy tales, there certainly is a stereotype of a woman. Usually the leading female character is quiet, shy, obedient (to her parents or father and an evil stepmother), shes small or of middle-height, with rosy cheeks, round face and long, thick hair plaited in one braid. In the media orientated 20th century (until 1990) the image of a Soviet woman was that of a hard working busy bee. Titles of the women magazines speak for themselves: Rabotniza (Working Woman) and Krestyanka (Peasant Woman). Then all of a sudden the political situation changes and gradually Russia caught up with other First World countries in terms of the quantity of media. Cover girls, Barbie, Hollywood stars, girls from the ads, pop stars represent the body image that is most appreciated: young, thin, with fine forms, white smile and perfect hair. My fellow townsman, the great classic writer Chekhov wrote: Everything must be beautiful in a person: the face, and clothes, and the soul, and thoughts. There is nothing wrong with the desire to be beautiful, it is just  natural. Quite understandably teenage girls look at all these beautiful women on the screen and press, then look in the mirror and compare. The comparison does not always bring joy and satisfaction. Often it results in disappointment, frustration, exhausting diets and poor self-esteem.

Content analysis  of  Young Women and Body Image in Russian Magazines & Advertisements

Russian women magazines can roughly be divided into following major types: old Soviet magazines (Rabotniza, Krestyanka) that are totally renovated (both in design and content) to correspond to modern standards, and Russian editions of international magazines (like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Seventeen, etc.). Attention should be paid to the target audience, design, content, advertising .

The Draft Media Education Program on Young Women and Body Image in  Russian Magazines & Advertisements

First, students can be asked to answer a survey concerning magazines they read, what appeals them in the women magazines.

Secondly, students hold a group discussion on:

the target audience (for example, age range, marital and social status, educational background, etc.);

 design (usually glossy cover, high-quality paper, abundance of photos and pictures);

 content (main headings, types of articles, style of writing);

 advertising (what and how is advertised).

Each student can choose his/her favorite magazine and analyze the way this magazine portrays women (both in articles and ads). Then in groups students make a list of characteristics  and work out a stereotype of a magazine woman.

It is useful  to debate the topic A teenagers self-consciousness and popular magazines (taking into consideration following aspects: the stirring questions that teenagers look answers for, where they can find the answers, what is the positive affect of magazines for young people, what is negative about them, the affect of the print media stereotypes on self-esteem of a teenage girl).

Students also can develop critical thinking skills by reading and deconstructing TV advertisements. Usually this part of work can be started with the examining of several TV commercials taped on a videocassette. Which one lingered in your mind? Students are  offered  to consider one commercial in terms of the following:

what do you see (a woman image, product, camera work, effects, words);

 what do you hear ( music, voice, voice-over, etc.);

 describe a woman in the commercial;

 the message of the commercial;

 the image of a woman and a female body in TV commercials;

            Students can discuss such issues as: beauty and stereotyping of beauty, artificial creation of the need to buy the product, manipulating role of ads, sexuality in ads, affect of body-image stereotyping on self-esteem, medias double job of both reflecting and affecting our ideals and values.

These are the samples of work in the classroom.

In the outcome it is possible to analyze (the pre-tests and post-tests of the students) the students surveys, their essays, responses to media texts, group discussions on the topic Young Women and Body Image in Russian Magazines & Advertisements. The assessment of students understanding of ideas and content of media texts is presented in the following levels:

Level 1 (the lowest) - absence of understanding of ideas and problems of a media text, disability to express own thoughts, to distinguish the stereotypes in a media text, to see the manipulative goals of a media agency.

Level 2 (low) - primitive interpretation of media texts ideas and problems, disability to  distinguish the stereotypes in a media text, to see the manipulative goals of a media agency.

Level 3 (middle) - fair understanding of the main idea of a media text, ability to determine some stereotypes in media texts, weak attention to media language.

Level 4 (high) - good  understanding of ideas and problems of a media text, ability to express own thoughts, to distinguish the stereotypes in a media text, to see the manipulative goals of a media agency, ability to see the basic elements of media language.

Level 5 ( the highest) - coherent, adequate understanding of the idea and the problem of a media text, the agencys goal, analysis of stereotypes and decoding of attempts to manipulate with the audience, fluent orientation in media language.

The effectiveness of the program can be assessed by the increase of the number of students who in the outcome of the study could rise to the level or two levels above their initial level. In addition students can express their opinion about what they have learned and how this course changed their viewing and reading habits and literacy.

Summary

So we are going to :

make a sociocultural  & content analysis of popular women magazines and TV advertisements, in order to define, what is a young woman and a body image that is offered today for the modern Russian audience;

analyze the results of the students survey, to find out their real attitude towards this kind of press and advertisement (to some extent it will also give the idea if the messages of magazine and advertisement agencies reach their goal);

 analyze the outcomes of the group discussions on the topic Young Women and Body Image in the Russian Magazines & Advertisements;

 draw conclusions about the influence of the media representation of young women on  Russian teenagers and youth; and about the effectiveness of use of this topic during media education classes.

CURRICULUM  VITAE  (Resume)

Anastassia  Novikova, Ph.D.

1-ya Kotelnaya, 77, korpus 3, kv. 56

Taganrog-10, 347910, Russia

Tel. (86344)321377

e-mail: alex@fedor.ttn.ru

DATE OF BIRTH :  July, 16, 1977,  RUSSIA.

 

Higher Education:

 

UNIVERSITY/INSTITUTE, SCHOOL:

 

FIELD OF STUDY & DEPARTMENT:

DATES:

DEGREE, DATES:

TAGANROG STATE PEDAGOGICAL INSTITUTE,

TAGANROG, RUSSIA

Media Education

Department: Post-Graduate

1999-2001

Ph.D,

May 2001

       

TAGANROG STATE PEDAGOGICAL INSTITUTE,

TAGANROG, RUSSIA

Modern European Languages, Language Teaching, Translation, Foreign Languages Department:  (ENGLISH-GERMAN)

1994-1999

University Diploma of Education

(with a distinction).

Jun.1999

TAGANROG STATE  TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY,

TAGANROG, RUSSIA

Economics, Accountancy, Financial Science.

Department: ECONOMICS

1997-1999

University Diploma of Economics,

Jun.1999

Experience:

DATES:

POSITION:                                                       

DEPARTMENT:

INSTITUTION:

Feb. 2001- PRESENT

Researcher, member of the scientific team for Grant Research of Russian Foundation for Humanities (RGNF) in  media education area, Ph.D.

Social & Cultural Development of Personality

TAGANROG  STATE PEDAGOGICAL INSTITUTE, TAGANROG, RUSSIA.

Sept.1999-Jan.2001

EDUCATOR OF  ENGLISH LANGUAGE

FOREIGN LANGUAGES

TAGANROG  STATE PEDAGOGICAL INSTITUTE, TAGANROG, RUSSIA.

DISTINCTIONS, HONORS, AWARDS:

Name of Prize or Grant:

Year:

1

Grant from Russian Foundation for Humanities for the best scientific pedagogic project (in the scientific team): media education area.

2001-2003

2

Grant from Program Russian Universities (in the scientific team): media education topic

2002

3

FLEX/FSA (U.S.A.) Alumni Grant for the project in media education area

2001

4

Education grant in North Rhine-Westfalian Region, (Germany).

1998, Feb.

5

Grant FSA- Freedom Support Act  (U. S. A.) : Education

Aug.1994-Jun.1995

6

High Schools  Honor Medal

June, 1994

 INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE:

Country:

Type of travel:

Year:

1

Germany

STUDY:  education grant in  NORTH  RHINE-WESTFALIAN REGION.

Feb.1998

2

Norway

Visit to Norwegian Association for Media Education

Jul-Aug.1995

3

U.S.A.

STUDY:  grant from FSA (Freedom Support Act)

Aug.1994-Jun.1995

 LANGUAGE ABILITY:         Fluent in English ,  German  and Russian.

SKILLS:         Experienced with the following computer    applications: MS DOS,  Microsoft Word, etc.

MAIN  PUBLICATIONS:

Novikova, A. (2002). Media Education Seminar. In: Bradley Herald (USA). Winter. Vol. 27, p. 12.

Novikova, A. (2002). Introduction (co-author: A.Fedorov). .In: Media Education in Russia: Short History of Development. Taganrog: Poznanie, p.4-16.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media and Media Education (co-author: A.Fedorov). Alma Mater (Moscow). N 11, p.15-23.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media Education in English-speaking Countries. Pedagogica (Moscow). N 5, p. 87-91.

Novikova, A. (2001). The Idea about the Main Media Theories (co-author: A.Fedorov). In: Media Education: History, Theory and Methods. Rostov: CVVR, p. 17-20.

Novikova, A. (2001). The Idea about the Main Media Education Theories (co-author: A.Fedorov). In: Media Education: History, Theory and Methods. Rostov: CVVR, p. 20-34.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media Education in the context of Dialog of Cultures  (co-author: A.Fedorov). In: Media Education: History, Theory and Methods. Rostov: CVVR, p. 198-203.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media Education in the U.S.A. In: Media Education: History, Theory and Methods. Rostov: CVVR, p. 243-267.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media Education in the USA and the theory of dialogue of cultures in the context of modern humanitarian education. In: Humanitarian Culture of Specialist. Taganrog: Taganrog Institute of Management & Economics Publishing House, p. 176-181.

Novikova, A. (2001). Media Education in the USA. Program of the Specialized Seminar for Students at the Pedagogical Institute. Taganrog: Kuchma, 24 p.

Novikova, A. (2000). Media Education in the USA: Problems & Tendencies. Pedagogica (Moscow). N 3, p.68-75.

Novikova, A. (2000). Ny CD-ROM om Medieundervisning. Media I Skole og Samfunn (Norway). N 2, p. 43.

Novikova, A. (2000). Media Education in the USA. Part.2.  Art & Education (Moscow). N 4, p. 35-49

Novikova, A. (1999). Media Education in the USA. Part 1.  Art & Education (Moscow). N 4, p. 68-81.

Novikova, A. (1999). Medieundervising I USA. Media I Skolen (Norway). N 3, p. 10-13.

Novikova, A (1999). Literacy in the digital World. Media I Skolen (Norway). N 5, p. 42-43.

Novikova, A. (1995). Made in the USA: Regional Film-Impressions. Video-Ace Express (Moscow). N 31, p 60-61.

Novikova, A (1995). Film-Production of American Teenagers. Video-Ace Express (Moscow). N 32, p. 59.