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Bruce Davidson – “Girl With the Bird Cage”

, from East 100th Street, 1966″], from East 100th Street, 1966″]

Some field notes

Sarah and I have started the interview process. Interestingly, so far it seems that most of the answers we received are similar. There seems to be a “universal” opinion of beautiful features (such as long hair, brightly colored eyes, straight white teeth etc). An interesting note is also that our study focuses on physical beauty but some of our older participants discussed internal beauty and how a personality can affect one’s overall beauty. I am beginning to see a trend in the difference between how males and females answer our questions. I think the general opinion of beauty is the same but our males seem to stress body-types, while females mainly focus on the face. Also we have not yet detected a difference of opinion between people that live in the city and people who live in the suburbs. Most participants do not think that beauty has changed dramatically over the course of their lives, but rather their awareness has changed. [For example, maybe now they are more conscious of size, or height, or features than they were at a younger age.] The males seem to attribute this change to hormones or just maturity, and the women say that it is because of maturity.

Photoelicitation pictures

Miss Universe 1977

Stefania Fernandez-Miss Universe 2009

Dorthy Dell Goff, Miss Universe 1930.

Katie Stam, Miss America 2000

Questionnaire for Final Project

Here are some questions we are going to ask our participants:

1. define what you think characterizes a beautiful person?

2. Please rate the following pictures in order from most to least beautiful and explain your response to the best of your ability. [photoelicitation]

3.- what was considered beautiful when you were growing up and/or  has that changed at all?

4.  When do you think you became cognizant of beauty? Has it changed over time? If so, how?
5.  Where do you think your ideas of beauty come from?

6. what year were you born in?
7. Please circle – Male    Female
8. What kind of media do you consume most?
9. Are you from a city or a suburb?

Getting Serious

Langlois, J.H., & Ritter, J.M., Roggman, L.A., Vaughn, L.S. (1991). Facial diversity and infant preferences for attractive faces. Developmental Psychology, 27 (1), 79-84.

This article examined infant preferences for attractive faces. This is an interesting study and relates to our project because we want to study whether the perception of beauty changes with age. Infant preferences were determined using a visual preference paradigm. Interestingly, infants preferred the same faces that adults preferred and considered attractive. This study suggests that perceptions of beauty remain stable throughout one’s life time.

Rhodes, G., & Proffitt, F., Grady, J.M., Sumich, A. (1998). Facial symmetry and the perception of beauty.  Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 5 (4), 659-669.

This article discusses a study done to determine if specific facial features are considered more attractive than others, specifically if “facial symmetry” affects people’s perceptions of facial attractiveness. Researchers found that facial symmetry is considered more attractive; perfectly symmetric faces were preferred to les symmetric versions of the same face. Also, when people were asked to decide which faces were most appealing for a potential life partner, again, the symmetrical faces were chosen. This study pertains to our study because we want to find trends and try to define what beauty is, and what is considered beautiful. This study suggests that one feature that causes beauty is facial symmetry.

METHODOLOGY: In order to study society’s perception of beauty, we will first begin by randomly selecting our participants, to represent society as accurately as possible. We will randomly ask some Queens College students to participate, we will randomly stop people that we see on the street, we will ask neighbors etc. We will try our best to get a diverse population different in age, gender, culture etc. We will provide participants with a questionnaire, will some multiple choice and some open ended questions, where participants will try to best explain their perception of what is beautiful. Then, we will provide participants with pictures and conduct another open ended interview. Participants will rate the pictures in terms of beauty, and explain to the researcher the reasons behind their preferences. The pictures will serve to determine consistencies, or inconsistencies, with the responses from the questionnaire. The researchers will then compile all the information and look for consistencies and trends in preferences and responses, and see if the trends differ with participants’ age or gender.

ETHICS: Being that we will be using pictures that we attained, either from the internet or magazines, we will make sure that any picture we use is properly cited, and that we had permission to use them. Also, we will be conducting interviews; therefore before participants agree to participate, we will clearly explain to them what they will be required to do, and how these tasks will benefit our study. We will assure participants that they have the right to withdraw from the study at any moment they chose, without being penalized and for any reason. We will make sure to protect the privacy of participants by changing names, or excluding details that may hint to the identity of the participant.

Deep Dish TV

What is the goal of Deep Dish TV? The objective of this group is to provide raw real information and footage (Video) of what would not be shown on regular TV. It provides means of communication to the public about current topics. As stated on their website, “With humor, passion, creative flair and very low budgets, Deep Dish TV artists and producers have developed provocative video series exploring issues that profoundly impact our lives.” The network gathers videos made by everyday people who produce the materials with the intent to educate about unconventional and taboo topics.

Who are the members of this group? Deep Dish TV is open to all producers or people who want to get involved. They encourage people to produce educational footage and air it on public access television as avenue to express topic that are rarely spoken about. Deep dish airs individual’s materials. For people who don’t know how to produce, they welcome interns.

How is the group organized to make decisions? By looking at how the variety of material spans on The Deep Dish Tv website, it seems that there are many people making choices on what is aired.

What type of activism does this group do? Visual Activism exposing unconventional topics using visual media.

Would you join? We are torn as to whether we would join this group. While the topics seem interesting and unique, some topics may seem bias, inappropriate and unimportant. But Devin believes inappropriate is good. We both agree it is good to learn about topics that are concealed from the public.

Signs of Resistance

I thought that the case study of visuals on Barrone Street was a very interesting study.  In New Orleans, people were using visual methods (for example graffiti) to voice their political and social opinions. Radtke chose to study these images and what they symbolized. The research was done while the researcher was bike riding through the city and I think that this is interesting because this is not a normal way that researchers go about collecting data. He often took pictures that were covered the next day and so his photographs were unique, as they were often destroyed quickly after he captured them. I found the entire story of the study interesting; how people transformed the streets into an area to voice their opinions.

Ethical Considerations

There are several ethical considerations involved in our study. Part of our methodology will involve showing participants pictures of people and having them comment on whether the people in the pictures are beautiful, in their eyes, or not. Therefore we must make sure that the pictures of the people that we use were collected ethically and legally. We must check for copyrights and take into account what we are allowed to use the pictures for, and properly explain where we got the pictures from.

Also, our study involves interviews. We must make sure that participants agree to participate in our study. We must make sure that they understand their freedom to withdraw from the study at any moment, and most importantly we must ensure our participants confidentiality. For participants who want to remain anonymous, we must make sure to securely protect their identity. Sarah and I will do our best to make sure that the participants involved in our study are protected, and agree to all the terms that we present before them.

Visual Exploration

The first picture is a picture of Dorthy Dell Goff, a 17 year old girl who won “Miss Universe” in 1930. I found this picture at, which is a big database with many pictures. I thought this picture was interesting and applicable to the “age” aspect of our study. One of the things that Sarah and I are studying is whether there is a difference of opinion of beauty among different age groups. Therefore, I thought it was interesting to a show a picture of a “beautiful woman” from the 1930s. It is interesting to note Goff’s size, and features, and to contrast them with what we consider to be beautiful today. Also, Goff was 17 years old when the picture was taken (and when she won the award). This is significant because she was a teenager at the time, and we want to see whether young adults’ views on beauty differ from older adults.

As for the second part of the assignment, it is difficult for me to actually take a picture that has to do with beauty. I asked several people that I find beautiful for permission to snap a picture of them and post it, however they were uncomfortable with this request. Therefore instead, I chose to post another picture that I found to compare with the previous one. The picture below was taken from the website  This is a picture of Katie Stam, who won Miss America in 2009. I thought this was a good picture to post because both this and the first picture are both photographs of women considered to be beautiful in their time. It is interesting to notice the difference in size of the two women, as well as specifics such as features, modesty etc. which may indicate a changing view of beauty over the years.

New Thoughts for Final Project

I will be working with Sarah and we want to study the topic of women’s beauty in relation to age and gender. We want to examine whether older adults will have different or similar views on beauty as younger adults and teens. We also want to study whether males and females have different views of what is considered beautiful.

Here is our ideas of methodologies: We will prepare a short questionnaire that we will begin with which will ask participants basic questions about their opinions of beauty. We will also provide participants with different pictures and ask them to rate the pictures in terms of beauty, and to explain their reasoning. We also want to ask participants to predict what they think will be considered beautiful in the future, if they think the ideas of beauty will change.

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