Arfa Shah

“The body as a cultural object”: Exploring the online construction of the female body

This project explores the construction of the female body in today’s image saturated world, identifying how the body is constructed within a set of restrictive beauty ideals. Utilising McRobbie’s reading of Bourdieu  and the concept of symbolic violence, which explores how society encourages women to look a certain way, this project scrutinises the power of language to label images surrounding discourses of body shaming and body praising, particularly focussing on the Daily Mail Online and the powerful picture sharing application, Instagram. Furthermore, this project discusses how the Mail Online utilises new media formats of social media, such as comment sections and “likes”, to  encourage readers to partake in this symbolic violence against women, further reinforcing notions of beautifying oneself in accordance with the cultural expectations of the modern world.  This project also looks at the power of the image making technologies of applications such as Instagram and how its filters allow users to refashion and control images of the body to project a perfected external self. Instagram, like the Mail Online, encourages users to present a flawless image to the world. By identifying the particular techniques of language and image making that perpetuate notions of the ultimate feminine ideal, this project concludes that the body is indeed a constant site of construction that cannot escape from ongoing image mediation and suffocating beauty ideals.

Olivia Harwood /Film Panel

“Thinking outside ‘the box’ gender representations on the screen

This presentation focuses on the way in which women are represented by the media within the surfing industry. It firstly will discuss the way in which both male and female surfers are portrayed leading to discuss how only female surfers are represented. It will highlight the way in which two contrasting professional surfers are currently represented, both recognised for their surfing ability yet focusing on how one is more recognised due to her making a career in modelling based on her appearance. I will then be discussing and analysing three surfing films that portray women in three different lights. The first film is Blue Crush, (2002) and is directed by a male. The portrayal of the women in this film is interesting due the director being male. The second film I will be analysing is Point Break, (1991). A female directs this film and it is interesting to analyse the way in which females are represented in a mediocre way represented as surfers not as sexual objects. The third film being analysed is Soul Surfer, (2011). This film is based on a true-life story and follows the lifestyle of a young female surfer who got attacked by a shark and lost her arm. As a female surfer myself I will be highlighting the way in which I feel the industry represents women and how I feel women should be recognised for their athletic skills in the sport not just their appearance and looks.