Culture Jam Assignment


PHOTO: The Perfect Body by Victorias Secret.

In 2014, Victoria;s Secret released this ad, advertising one their newer comfort lingerie lines. From the beginning, this ad generated a lot of social media attention and backlash due to the slogan and models used. It is widely known that Victoria’s Secret uses models that have to have a very specific look in order to represent the brand, but the slogan alongside the models is what sparked all the outrage. Victoria’s Secret released a statement saying that the word “body” is in quotations because that is the name of their new line. Unfortunately, the use of that word in their slogan, regardless of what it was meant to represent, was open to a lot of misinterpretation due to several factors.
There was a minimal amount of diversity in the models who were chosen to feature in this ad. The lack of women of colour and the lack of body diversity portrayed that in order to be considered as someone with a perfect body, you need to be tall, thin, young and preferably have lighter skin.

Although this ad was attempting to portray that their new lingerie line can be a perfect fit for every body, it did not succeed. Instead, it chose to portray very specific and idealized body types and label that body as perfect in reference to the way the lingerie would fit. Instead, that catch phrase excluded so many women who do not fit into what their standard of perfection is. Women come in all shapes and sizes and to portray very few body types while advertising what a perfect fit looks like is discriminating and devaluing all woman who do not fit into that mould.

PHOTO: Victorias Secret ad "A Body For Every Body."

Victoria’s Secret attempted to re-release this ad, through changing their slogan. Unfortunately at this point, the true image of their media campaign was understood, backlashed and criticized. Their new slogan, “A Body for Every Body” brought on the same criticisms as the first ad release because bodies of so many other women were excluded and yet they still chose to generalize and narrow down what a woman’s body should look like in their undergarments.

Jammed Version

The jammed version of the ad ended up being much more minimalistic than I had anticipated. I chose to work on the very original ad that Victoria’s Secret released instead of their changed one. I made this decision because the first ad would have been the only ad if it wasn’t for the backlash.

The two key changes that I ended up making was the colour of the picture and the wording under the main slogan.

Changing the colour seems very simple, but the reason I chose to do it was because that was what spoke the loudest to me when I first looked at the ad. Victoria’s Secret was attempted at creating a diverse ad that included everyone, but they failed. Black and white represented how one sided their campaign was. They did include two women of colour in the ad, which should not be ignored, but the black and white was meant to bring the focus on the types of bodies that were chosen. Rather than being distracted by the colourful lingerie, I wanted to bring the focus back on who was being portrayed as perfect.

Another thing that I wanted to focus on was what was written under the slogan. Instead of changing the main message, I wanted to alter what was being said under it to bring focus to the flaws of this message. In the original ad,”Perfect fit. Perfect comfort. Perfectly soft” was written under. This was obviously in reference to their garments. I chose to blur that out and instead write, “Perfectly ignorant. Perfectly exclusionary. Perfectly privileged.” The reason I chose those words was to bring the focus back to the slogan and what it is actually portrayed to the rest of us who identify as women and do not fit into the VS model category. Women who are not perfectly thin, tall, young and pale are just a few that could feel affected by this ad. It is important that we do not forget the struggles of Trans women and disabled women and their need for representation and inclusion in the media as well.

Many people chose to fight back and not be silent anymore. Our duty as women is to support, love and encourage each other. By fighting back and making our voices heard, many learned that loving yourself no matter what you look like is okay. Other lingerie brands chose to take the concept of the Victoria’s Secret ad and turn it into something much more positive. These companies chose models who had bodies that were much more representative of what the average (but not all) woman looks like.

dear kate


All pictures used were from:

Power Through Action

As women’s rights, power and equality are not only being recognized, but encouraged, more motivational groups are showing up in order to empower women. A popular one that has been making the news is Ban Bossy. As this new era of female empowerment and equality is rising, many celebrities such as Beyonce and Jennifer Lawrence are doing their job to advocate for these companies. This obviously does do a great deal in helping average girls and women stand up for what is right, but there is more than just saying you stand up for a cause.

Too much hype is being placed on celebrities and what they are doing out in the open. As a society, this sort of goes against itself because these women still have much more power than any of us average girls will ever have. Shouldn’t we use an example of a non celebrity woman who is actually doing their part to create equality within our society. Debbie Sterling is the first example I think of. She built a play set called GoldieBlox for younger girls to inspire and encourage them to become interested in Engineering.

Her website, has information, games and scholarships in order to provide girls with the confidence and freedom to feel comfortable entering a major that is predominantly overtaken by males. As an Arts major, I wish I was more exposed to these sorts of sources as a child because I do feel as if I was afraid to be different. It is no longer about being the norm, it is about doing what you love and what you’re most passionate about.

I hope that the future brings much more confident and empowered women to be able to do what they please and not what society tells them to do.

To end off on a less scholarly note, Lauren Conrad shows us how inappropriate questions can become a way to set an example for others, not by saying, but by doing. [click here to watch part of the interview]

Missing or Ignored

Part of the ASTU curriculum  this semester is a book called Missing Sarah by Maggie De Vries which recounts the events of an adopted girl named Sarah from Vancouver who fell into the trap of drugs and prostitution and was murdered. This book raised many question for me especially because a large portion of this book focused on how Sarah was of a mixed race and didn’t felt like she fit in with her adoptive family. It also mentioned how many of the girls who fell into this trap of working the streets came from an aboriginal background. These girls didn’t fit into traditional community and felt as though this is the only place where they felt welcome.

As part of my research paper I wanted to explore why these girls (mostly of Aboriginal and First Nations descent) end up in the worst place possible in order to feel a sense of community and fitting in.

From this video, a large emphasis on being disconnected is placed as the reasoning for these conditions. A lot of the time, this goes back to Aboriginal children being taken away from their homes and placed into residential schools. Children and families were separated, left living in poverty and feeling disconnected from their roots. This started the cycle of working in the streets to get money, which eventually lead to drug abuse, which leads to a cycle continuing throughout the generations.

There are many support groups out there trying to get involved and reduce the number of Indigenous women that are out on the streets through outreach programs, and by providing them with clothing and food. This issue has gone on for enough time that many people should be aware of it and try to get involved and stop it. The wound runs deep, and although it will take time, I hope that Canada and its citizens are doing what they can to help.

Archives Within Families

As a continuation to my first blog post, I thought it would be interesting to continue writing about archives from a different point of view. They are still the focus in our ASTU class, but I thought it would be interesting to bring in some things from sociology too.

As previously spoken about, archives are typically a way for archivist to track the past, but as we learned about different family dynamics in sociology, I thought it would be interesting to tie the two together. Dr. Rachel Sullivan used the example of how many generations ago, children were placed in nunnery’s to be raised if there was some sort of dysfunction within the household (abuse, poverty, etc.). Upon learning this fact, I saw this as a sort of Archival Silence because although the evidence of trouble in the family was not clearly listed, the absence of the children was a signal that something was off.

When looking at things from a point of view that allows you to look past the obvious, it is surprising what one could discover. Information that was usually meant to be secretive becomes exposed through the actions that your ancestors may have taken to keep it covered.

As to how someone could get access to this past information varies from family to family. Personally, I was able to recall many instances where I was able to discover archival silences just by calling my mother and asking her about her childhood. Others may have the luxury of having diaries that are in good condition, or even picture albums that could trace their ancestors past. A increasingly curious generation has even led to websites such as, which allows people to sign up and find documents and pictures from their families past.

These silences are everywhere and it only takes a little bit of listening and searching to discover them

Archives: A Massive Puzzle

Archives are known as historical documents that are collected throughout the years to provide information about a certain time, place, culture and group of people. When given the definition of an archive, it looked fairly simple and straight forward. What I didn’t realize was that archives carry so much more than just facts and information, they hold power and they help shape and form identity.

In Of Things Said and Unsaid: Power, Archival Silences, and Power in Silence by Rodney G.S. Carter, Carter talks about different powers that are exerted in archives; the power of the dominant and the lack of power that the marginalized groups experienced through not being archived. It amazed me that archives could actually have such massive implications. Groups could be forgotten, identities could be misrepresented and overstepped and people are not able to grow and move on.

After learning about this sliver of information about archives, I couldn’t help but see a connection to many Aboriginal groups. Throughout their history, many have continually tried to alter their identity and change their ways and traditions. Now we have moved towards acceptance and acknowledgment of the importance of having their history documented. Having archives and being able to access them is like being taken back in time. With many different archives acting as puzzle pieces, one will eventually be able to put it together to gain a bigger picture.

Without realizing it then, I recall watching a documentary on APTN, an aboriginal television network, of Eastern Canadian (Nova Scotia) Aboriginals being given access to old letters, objects, clothing items and names of people from the same tribe. I did not understand what it meant to the aboriginal people because I wasn’t aware that these items from the past held so much meaning for those in the present (and future to come).

Understanding Persepolis- My Point of View


A couple weeks ago, our Arts Studies class had the privilege of reading a comic style book called Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. In all honesty, this was probably the first piece of writing I enjoyed reading since term 1 had begun. Not only did I like reading it because it was fairly simple to go through, but because I was also able to relate to it.

If you are curious about getting a run down about the book, click here to get a summary of each chapter. I still highly recommend you read the actual book because the pictures with the writing is what really makes the books message get across.

Coming from a Middle Eastern back ground, it was refreshing to read a book about a girl who stood up against the typical North American stereotypes of Middle Eastern women during a time when Iran was being run by the Islamic regime. Marji had to endure war, loss, and times of trial, yet through all of that she maintained a strong independent personality and refused to let anything tear her down. This was seen in the way she revolted against traditional Muslim attire because she did not it fit for her. She should be the example of what people look for in not only a Middle Eastern women, but in all women.

Marjane Satrapi stands for equality, peace and authenticity. That is the reason she wrote the book in the first place. She wanted people to see how things really were in Iran during the time of war from a real persons view. She was tired of people who consumed the media to only see the one “reality,” but several others. The news broadcasters were portraying violence, aggression and suppression, and she wanted to show a different side of it. In doing that, she emphasized that it did not matter that she was woman writing this novel, it just mattered that someone was getting the truth out, and that is what was needed.

She stands for everything that I believe in. She speaks out and she has her own opinion on many controversial issues, and I like that. A lot of books that are written by Middle Eastern women tend to be about their horrible experiences, but the problem is, not many of them solve those issues. Satrapi takes the issues that she lived through, expresses it, and finds solutions from what she just experienced. That should be the model that we take in our lives through times of difficulty and trial. Whether than be gender discrimination, racism or social class problems, a person should take the negative and make a positive. If you have gone through that, do not dwell on your experience, but express them, so others can make use of it.

Marjane Satrapi said in Persepolis, ““Life is too short to be lived badly.”  I think this embodies the essence of the story and it has given me a better understanding of what others go through. It has also taught me to appreciate and love what I have been blessed with.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Belkin Art Gallery Reflection

Over the past couple weeks, the University of British Columbia has made an effort to educate its students about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an organization that has become a way for those who were forced into residential schools to speak out about the abuse and pain that they endured. UBC suspended classes on September 18th to show support for the TRC and to allow its students to participate in many of the provincial events that were going on.
I was very interested in learning about the TRC because I was not aware of this organization prior to attending UBC. The first step for me was figuring out what it was all about. I remember learning about the native people of Canada in elementary school, but it was more about their culture and lifestyle, rather than the suffering they went through.

I took the opportunity to visit the Belkin Art Gallery which was featuring an exhibit called “Witnesses Art and Canada’s Indian Residential Schools”. I went to the art gallery as a way for me to just learn about the TRC. I wasn’t expecting to feel saddened by a lot of the art work that was shown. My first impression when I walked into the exhibit was how everyone there was so focused on the art work that was being displayed. I was extremely intimidated, but as I started looking around and reading the descriptions that accompanied the displays, I began to see why everyone was so captivated.

The artwork told stories and shared many experiences about the harsh realities that aboriginal students had to face. The drawings/paintings were the items that stood out most to me. Many of them were graphic and they usually portrayed their abuser in the way they saw them after what they put them through, not how they actually looked like. Although I couldn’t relate to their experiences, I still managed to have a better understanding and appreciation for what these past students had endured. The information that I had been learning about aboriginals started to make sense. I could understand why suicide statistics, drug abuse and alcoholism were substantially higher in aboriginal communities than elsewhere in Canada.

After being able to experience a small dose of what the native people of Canada faced, I could see why the TRC is so important. It is giving those who suffered a chance to speak out, a chance to build community, a chance to educate and a chance to move past what has been holding them back throughout all of these years.
I highly recommend that everyone takes the opportunity to check out this exhibit. It is going on until December 1st, 2013 and you could find more information on the link below:
     You could also find more information about the TRC on their main website. It includes a list of all the residential schools, upcoming events, news and streaming of previous events that took place.