Associated Press: YouTube phenomenon has girls asking – Am I pretty?

Tween and teen girls are posting videos asking “Am I pretty?” or “Am I ugly?” or both. Some have millions of views and thousands of nasty comments. Dyson Professor Emilie Zaslow, PhD, speaks with the Associated Press about the dangers to self-esteem.

Dr. Emilie Zaslow, a media studies professor at Pace, told Leanne Italie of the Associated Press that today’s online world for young people is only just beginning to be understood by researchers. The article, which is about young people posting videos asking the world to judge their physical appearance, appeared in the Wall Street Journal and in other media outlets nationwide.

From the article:

When the Internet is your diary and your audience is global, she said, “The public posting of questions such as “Am I ugly?” which might previously have been personal makes sense within this shift in culture.”

Add to that the unattainable pressures of the beauty industry, a dose of reality TV, where ordinary people can be famous, and superstars who are discovered via viral video on YouTube, she said.

“These videos could be read as a new form of self-mutilation in line with cutting and eating disorders,” Zaslow said. 

Read the Wall Street Journal article here.

Downtown Express: Pace Holds Tech Talk

This Wednesday, March 7, Pace university hosts “Tech Talk” and the “Power of Social Media in Politics.”

Pace’s upcoming “Tech Talk” was listed in the Downtown Express.

From the article:

Pace holds Tech Talk

Emilie Zaslow

Get involved this Wednesday, March 7 as Pace university hosts “Tech Talk” and the “Power of Social Media in Politics.” The panel is set to discuss social media issues that have and is still impacting today’s politics. Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems and the Dyson College of Arts and Sciences have sponsored this panel to discuss the impact political issues we face today. What a perfect time to discuss this important issue with the upcoming primaries and elections in New York City. Panelists include Dr. Christopher Malone, associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department at Pace, Dr. Emilie Zaslow, assistant professor of communication studies at Pace, Dr. Cathy Dwyer, associate professor of information technology at Pace. The free event will be held at Pace University’s downtown NYC campus, located at One Pace Plaza, from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Cathy Dwyer
Chris Malone


The New York Times: “A Little Imperfection for That Smile?”

There’s an odd trend catching on in Japan, whereby women are intentionally creating a “fanged” or “snaggletooth” look for themselves, referred to in Japan as “yaeba.”

Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor in Pace’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences and author of “Feminism, Inc. – Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture,” comments in Sunday’s New York Times as to why Japanese women are paying for “imperfections” deemed attractive — the kinds of tooth issues a lot of Americans pay thousands to correct with braces.

In Japan, a new fashion has women paying to have their straight teeth purposefully disarranged.

A result of tooth-crowding commonly derided in the United States as “snaggleteeth” or “fangs,” the look is called “yaeba” in Japanese or “double tooth.” Japanese men are said to find this attractive: blogs are devoted to yaeba, celebrities display it proudly, and now some women are paying dentists to create it artificially by affixing plastic fronts to their real teeth.

Dr. Emilie Zaslow, an assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University in Manhattan who has studied gender identity and beauty in consumer culture, noted in Sunday’s New York Times Style Section that such ever-shifting tastes often have one thing in common: a fixation with youth.

“The gapped tooth is sort of preorthodontic or early development, and the naturally occurring yaeba is because of delayed baby teeth, or a mouth that’s too small,” she said. “It’s this kind of emphasis on youth and the sexualization of young girls.”

The imperfect teeth phenomenon has its Western equivalents.  Lauren Hutton popularized it in the 1970s, but the gap has seen a comeback recently with popular models like Lara Stone and Georgia Jagger.

Falsely imperfect teeth aren’t easy for everyone to swallow, perhaps because for most people, imperfections come naturally but don’t score multimillion-dollar contracts. (According to a Forbes report in May, Ms. Stone had earned $4.5 million in the preceding 12 months.) Dr. Zaslow suggested that contrived imperfections like yaeba teeth have nothing to do with imperfection. “It’s not based in self-acceptance,” she said.

In other words, it’s as phony as Botox. “It’s still women changing their appearance primarily for men,” Dr. Zaslow said.

Medill Reports Chicago: “True-life teen moms, experts say MTV’s ‘reality’ off the mark”

Emilie Zaslow, PhD, assistant professor of communication studies and author of “Feminism, Inc.: Coming of Age in Girl Power Media Culture” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), discusses how the media, especially the Internet and television, affects teens.

Whether teens are talking about it at home, pregnancy seems to be inescapable in the media. In recent years, young motherhood has become a pop culture trend, and this has not been lost on teens, said Emilie Zaslow, PhD., assistant professor of communication studies at Pace University in New York City, in an interview with Medill ReportsMedill Reports is written and produced by graduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill school.

“Generally, the research shows that there is not a direct link between media and behavior,” she said, “but there is strong evidence that media does have an influence on attitudes and values, and how we see the world.

Some organizations are seizing this opportunity to change the ways in which teenagers learn about safe sex.  TV shows and movies provide parents with the opportunity to have an open dialogue with their kids about sex. 

But Zaslow suggested this type of discussion should begin in classrooms because media education is limited in our country, compared with the United Kingdom and Canada.

“The United States has some of the worst media education,” she said. “And it is because we are the biggest producers of media – [producers] have a large strong hold.”