How Text and Images Signify Meaning - Victim of Beauty

Topics: Beauty, Culture, Denotation Pages: 6 (1816 words) Published: May 23, 2013
Essay on Victim of Beauty

«Victim of Beauty» is the title of a series of photographs published in the Bulgarian fashion magazine «12» and it can be depicted as a powerful source of meaning from the content of it's text and image. The title and image both have distinctive denotative meanings sujested by their literal characterization, however their merger creates a polysemy of connotative meanings that can be associated to the ideology of beauty, the evolution of its significance and its harm to society. Nonetheless, when separated, each element also has its own denotation and connotation that give additional essence of the eventual message established by the creator of the editorial. Whilst causing an international controversy, a tide of discussions emerged about the editorial, raising questions such as the propriety of abuse used as an art form and the use of sexism for discrimination of gender, however these seem to be based on a superficial perspective of the prevailing image, therefore I intend to reveal the deeper meaning associated with this specific text and image.

The image of beautiful women with black eyes, viciously torn out piercings and sickening burns instantly puts the thought of domestic violence into the readers mind, however the natural expressions of the models suggest they aren’t necessarily being objectified but in fact “humanized”. Although the images are controversial, they appear to have a deeper connotative meaning that can be perceived as the psychological abuse caused by beauty alternatively to the physical abuse portrayed literally in the images. In today’s society, beauty brings an enormous amount of pressure to the lifestyle of each individual whether a woman, men or even a child. Whether they realize or not, people from all cultures and backgrounds are victims of beauty within the perspective of ideology created by the society that surrounds them. Appearance currently plays a role in much more than the ceaseless quest for partnership, which provokes the desire to appeal to the opposite sex. Nowadays, beauty and appearance remain as a form of language. Speech, facial expressions, body language and ways to dress can all, in a broad sense, be considered “a medium” of communication that is used to build relationships and give an impression that may determine the decision of an employer or investor looking to provide a future career. Many job seekers have similar experience in the various areas of employment, however it is common for physical appearance to have a determining impact on job recruitment. Personal fulfillment is no longer achieved simply with the creation of a family, but with the discovery of our own potential and achievement and of course the ambition to gain money and possessions that are considered arguably to shape a particular standard of lifestyle, power and happiness. Nevertheless, what can be concluded is that beauty has an exceeding social influence, cultural power and even political consequences. This is also present in the sense of confidence expressed by the models in the photographs of Vasil Germanov, fashion stylist of 12 magazines. Each model looks beautiful besides her injuries, facing forward with her eyes directly looking at the camera. Whilst the bruises can represent struggle and sacrifice to maintain a beautiful physical appearance, the confidence and certainty in the eyes of the women can be perceived as a satisfaction of leverage and power held by their possession of beauty.

The extract “Victim of Beauty” in itself is controversial as ordinarily the two words, “victim” and “beauty”, do not combine as a natural expression used in society or as a political and economic issue. The question derived, however, is why aren’t they seen as part of the conventional list of cultural issues. Put aside, the title would literally delineate attractiveness as intolerance. Language as an instrument is used to send various messages. When a person’s thought is put in...

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Julie Gray. (2012). Beauty and Culture - Trinity University. Available: Last accessed 6th Dec 2012.
Gad Saad. (2010). Beauty: Culture-Specific or Universally Defined?. Available: Last accessed 6th Dec 2012.
James Mould. (2012). Natural beauty: Men are "feeling pressure to look good". Available: Last accessed 6th Dec 2012.
Nancy S Wellman. (2002). Causes and consequences of adult obesity. Available: Last accessed 6th Dec 2012.
Mikko Lehtonen (2000)
Malcolm Barnard (2001). Approaches to understanding visual culture.
Bo Bergstrom (2008) Essenstials of Visual Communication
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