Appropriation Project – “Norms”

This is a short video I created on the concept of appropriation for my Visual Arts class. We were given the task of creating a video comprised entirely of content that was not our own - that we took from other videos and other sources. The project was done with the idea of critiquing on the unrealistic beauty standards that are set by society. I used Adobe Premiere to create it and used clips from different beauty ads, along with a slam poetry audio to accompany it.

While working on this project my original idea was completely different from this. I got the inspiration to create this by loading quite a few Youtube videos and seeing the same beauty ad each time. Remembering back on this work of former student shown in my VISA class that use TV commercials – it got me thinking how I could incorporate advertisements in my work. Beauty standards is a socially universal issue which is still highly relevant today and the criticisms of the beauty ads that are shown regularly on TV or seen on web pages etc which sets a kind of category in which beauty of someone should fall in. I wanted to focus on the continuous use of white women in beauty ads presented as the standard that everyone should achieve. I could only find 2-3 ads where women of color dominated the entire ad which made me want to show the racism aspect of the beauty industry. I also wanted to put focus on how the stereotypical image of being ‘beautiful’ presented in these ads work towards making women feel self-conscious of themselves. I included the ‘Fair and Lovely’ ad which is something I grew up watching it on TV countless times and I personally know of how many girls, including myself, felt really self-conscious of having dark skin color. While searching through various beauty ads that were suitable to be added according to my purpose of creating this piece I found one fake ad where it explicitly presented in a nutshell how women are supposed to be. This is why I added it in my video as a contrast since other clips are implicitly criticizing.

The video was without audio at first. The feedback I got was to add some kind of audio to show that I was criticizing as it looked like just a plain compilation of beauty adverts. And initially I thought of adding a music track sung by a black woman to drive home the idea of an element of racism in commercials. I had already added it but I realized that some may not be familiar with the song and wouldn’t know who is singing so the idea would be lost. By watching a slam poetry with a friend and I realized I could add a slam poetry audio that clearly criticizes ‘beauty standards’ in society. I unlinked all the video and audio clips from the original source and deleted those audio clips. Moreover, I added another background instrumental track since just the poetry audio seemed plain to me. The track sets up an escalating tense tone throughout the video along with the slam poetry audio.

To make the transitions smooth I added audio and video effects – ‘exponential fade’ and ‘dip to black’. Through ‘Audio Gain’ I lowered the volume of the instrumental track as it was overpowering the poetry audio. My overall video is 56 seconds which is more than the 15-45 seconds time that allotted. I considered deleting some clips to make it 45 seconds, however, by cutting down the video clips I also would have to cut down the audio of the poetry and this would result in exclusion of some lines that I thought were really great and relevant. So I decided to keep it longer so I could include more of the audio to make more of an impact. I named the project "Norms" since the word itself means something that is typical and usual. The societal standards put on by through these ads can be considered something that is typical and something that is expected to be adhered too, especially by women, even i not explicitly stated.

Here are the links to all the sources I used:

L'Oréal Paris Skin Perfection Skin Care Ritual -

The Maybelline global “Make it Happen Campaign” -

Rouge Dior collection -

Fair & Lovely Clean Up Facewash TVC -

Fotoshop by Adobe from Jesse Rosten -

Marc Jacobs Daisy TV Commercial, 'Natural Beauty' -

Ellen Dymit - "Truly Beauty" - Poetry Slam

Gravity – EDEN (instrumental) -

Beauty Products Commercials Compilation from Maybelline New York (Australia) -



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