Does Media Want to Change “Me”?

June 13th, 2013

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”.  These are words that have haunted me, and many girls just like me, for years.  In today’s society skinny is deemed sexy, and being overweight is frowned upon.  Mass media shows us images of girls who are abnormally thin, perfectly tanned, and beautiful beyond belief.  What are these images teaching young girls?  And more importantly, what are these images driving young girls to do to their bodies?  The increase in eating disorders has skyrocketed; can mass media be one of the reasons?

Information on Eating Disorders

Eating disorders account for 20% of deaths caused from a mental illness.  There are many types of eating disorders but the most commonly known eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder.  Eating disorders, at extremes, can be fatal.  The common warning signs of someone with an eating disorder are excessive dieting or exercise, eating large amounts of food at one-sitting or at odd times of the day, rapid weight loss, signs of purging, and withdrawal from friends and family.  Although eating disorders affect both men and women, I will primarily be focusing on adolescent girls for this blog.

Bulimia Nervosa

What Role does Gender Play?

What does it mean to be a “girl” in today’s society?  According to Julia T. Wood “the feminine ideal is young and thin” (Wood 269).  As women, we are shown images of thin models and told that this is the standard of beauty to which we should strive to achieve.  We are rewarded for being thin and beautiful.  The social learning theory suggests that we learn to be feminine (or masculine) by mimicking others and we are rewarded for behaving appropriately for our gender.  In the sense of mass media, this could mean that girls are rewarded for following socially acceptable beauty norms, such as being thin.  For instance a thin girl would probably win a beauty pageant over a larger girl because thinness is considered more beautiful, therefore the thin girl gets the reward.

In advertising, women are usually portrayed as sex objects with “perfect faces, bodies, and hair” (Wood 275).  The women shown are there to give men a fantasy and to give other women a goal to reach.  Being portrayed as sex objects means that the girls in the advertisements are skinny and wearing little to no clothes.  To reach this level of beauty, advertisers give you ways to lose weight, change your hair, change your make-up, and even change your body parts.  Girls now have unlimited means to finding a way to enhance their beauty.

How Mass Media Fits In

Media depicts the ideal woman as being thin.  Young girls internalize these images, which can lead to eating disorders.  The average adolescent spends many hours per day viewing different media outlets.  This can include television, magazines, and social media sites.  There is a connection between media and poor body image.  Poor body image can result in lower self-esteem and depression, which are both symptoms of eating disorders.  Due to the amount of media available and the unrealistic images being posted, young girls are more likely to have a poor body image.


Media has played a huge role in the concept of monitoring for young girls.  Monitoring is when we remind ourselves of others’ expectations of what we should act like, look like, and think like.  An example of this could be an adolescent girl going to get a cookie after lunch then reminding herself that “beautiful girls are thin and don’t eat junk food”.  The expectations we are shown in the media can cause us to monitor ourselves and promote ourselves to engage in unhealthy eating habits, such as eating disorders.  One symptom of an eating disorder is obsessing over what you eat and how often you exercise, which could be a side effect to monitoring internally when thinking about food and media images.


Even Disney has fallen into the trap of promoting unattainable beauty.  Merida, the newest princess in the Disney collection is a spunky Irish girl who is very self-reliant and brave.  She is, what I would call, the perfect role model for young girls.  In the movie Brave, she has what society would call “beauty flaws” such as frizzy hair.  I admire this original image so much for being NORMAL.  The new image of Merida shows her with a thinner waistline, bigger bust, and fuller, perfect hair, her face now is shown with makeup, and her dress is much more embellished.  What is this image teaching all of the girls that saw Brave?   It is saying that being normal just isn’t good enough.  On there is a petition to keep the original image of Merida.

Princess Merida, Old and New

Photo editing and airbrushing has became a norm for print advertisements.  Advertisers now have the ability to choose from one model’s nose, another model’s eyes, another’s body, and another’s hair and piece them all together to form the “perfect girl”.  This causes us to assess ourselves unfairly.  Girls see the unrealistic images of supermodels that were constructed and find themselves to be insufficient in comparison to them.  What they do not realize is that even the models do not look like that; it is impossible to look like that.  The inadequate feeling caused by edited photos once again brings on low self-esteem and poor body image, causing girls to strive to obtain that skinny physique.

My Story

I did not realize that I was a different size from my friends until about the fourth grade.  I started noticing that I was bigger than most of my friends, but I did not know why.  That was when I first started my journey with dieting, and poor body image.  My self-esteem plummeted and everything about myself made me insecure.  I did not realize why I couldn’t look like the girls in the magazine, I was even told in eighth grade that if I wasn’t fat that I would be beautiful.  Why couldn’t I be beautiful as I was?  That was when I had my first introduction to “purging”.

I hated myself because I did not look like the images that surrounded me.  I was told I wasn’t pretty because I was not a size 0, and that people would like me more if I were thinner.  Whenever I wanted to eat I would monitor myself and remind myself “skinny girls do not binge”.  I wanted so badly to be skinnier that I drove myself to throwing up whatever I ate.  The unrealistic standards of beauty made me feel inadequate and not only lowered my self-esteem but also my self-worth.


Because I was not incredibly small, I began to think I was not worthy of love.  I told myself “who could love a girl as fat as me” or “who could ever love someone this ugly”.  I did not think I was worthy of happiness because I wasn’t skinny.  The models at fashion week were all a size 0, stores such as Abercrombie and Fitch did not carry my size (telling me that I was not good enough for their clothing), and magazines flooded me with countless articles about how I could “shed the pounds”.  Never did the media tell me that I was beautiful for being my size, instead I was told I would be beautiful only if I changed it.

How Can We Help Make A Change? is an organization that is dedicated to promoting healthy body images for youth and adolescents.  Their mission statement is “Our mission is to empower youth to shift cultural focus from diets and poor body image to healthy living at every size”.  I think this organization is awesome!  Fed Up Inc. created the “No Body Bashing” workshop that teaches young girls not to talk negatively about their own body or anyone else’s.  They also created a teen leadership program that educates boys and girls ages 5-18 about body image.  Fed Up is a great example of an organization spreading awareness about eating disorders and promoting healthy living styles.  Check out this video  they made about the dangers of eating disorders!

Another website promoting healthy living is actually a social media site, Pinterest.  Pinterest is a site that people can go on to find recipes, cute outfits, craft ideas, and the newest thing “thinspiration”.  Pinterest was concerned that women would get the wrong idea about how to lose weight in a healthy way, so they attached a warning that reads, “eating disorders are not a lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening”.  Under that statement they give the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline and website.  I think it is awesome that Pinterest has decided to make a stand against eating disorders and “thinspiration”.

Pinterest Warning on Eating Disorders

How Can I Help at Longwood? 

As someone who has suffered from low self-esteem and an eating disorder I am very passionate about spreading awareness to this issue.  I could invite a speaker to come talk to the campus about healthy living, start a club for anyone with eating disorders or low self-esteem, or even put on a walk to bring awareness to campus and promote self beauty of all shapes and sizes.



“Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!.” N.p.. Web. 6 Jun 2013. <>. Ata, Rheanna, Megan Lally, and Alison Ludden. “The Effects of Gender and Family, Friend, and Media Influences on Eating Behaviors and Body Image During Adolescence.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence. (2007): 1024-1037. Web. 6 Jun. 2013. <>. Wood, Julia, T. Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. Tenth. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. Print. “Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in Adolescents.” n.d. n. page. Web. 13 Jun. 2013. <>. York , Christopher. “Eating Disorders: How Social Media Helps Spread Anorexia And Bulimia In Young People.” Huffington Post- UK. 13 10 2012: n. page. Web. 13 Jun. 2013. <>. Shepherd, Emily, and Clive Seale. “Eating Disorders in the Media:The Changing Nature of UK Newspaper Reports.” (2012): 486-495. Print. <>. Levine, Michael, and Sarah Murnen. “Everybody knows that mass media are/are not a cause of eating disorders: A critical review of evidence for a casual link between media, negative body image, and disordered eating in females..” Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology. (2009): 9-35. Web. 13 Jun. 2013. <>. Jaffari, Seyed, Muhammad Waseem, Hafiz Zaman, Qalander Hayat, Malik Munir, Salman Saleem, and Zain Abideen. “Do Media Develop Eating Disorders: A Study with Reference to Young Females of Pakistan.” European Journal of Scientific Research. 57.1450-216X (2011): 29-46. Web. 13 Jun. 2013. <>.

You’re “the man” because she was a girl.

June 6th, 2013

When most people think of rape, the first thing that comes to mind is a young, attractive female being forced to have sex with a man.  When actually, men are victims or rape as well.  In fact, 1 out of every 10 rape victims is a male.  According to these statistics found on the RAINN website, “2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault.  The Obama administration altered the definition of rape to include men and the omitted the requirement the the victim physically resisted the attacker.  The statistics show that the numbers of men being raped are much lower than women, but is it because they aren’t targeted or because they aren’t confessing?


The Example

For any of the “gleeks” out there, you might be familiar with the character Ryder.  In this past season of Glee his character confided in his friends of the glee club about being assaulted by his former babysitter when he was younger.  While all the girls in the club sympathized with him, the guys asked him what the big deal was?  Instead of seeing his hurt, they praised him for “scoring big” with a hot girl, a response girls typically would not hear after being raped.  The reactions from the boys could be stemming from the way men and women are portrayed in the media.  In the textbook it says that “women continue to be portrayed as sex objects for men’s pleasure” (Wood 279).  In the video clip below, Sam (a glee club member) names off a list of movies that show “hot” older women pleasuring younger guys.  In there minds, what happened to Ryder is a fantasy turned in to reality.


The Gendered Stereotypes Broken


Knowingly or not, the Glee producers had the character of Ryder break many gendered norms in the media.  Many are influenced to think that men should be in charge, aggressive, strong, and sexually charged.  In that moment Ryder was vulnerable, speaking from an emotional standpoint, and opening up about a moment he felt weak.  Instead of thinking he was awesome for being touched by an older girl, he was guarded by feelings of confusion and insecurity.  One gendered norm that did not leave at this moment was his ability to be brave.  In fact, this act of bravery portrayed on Glee increased the usage of the RAINN National Assault Hotline by 80% (“Glee Partnership Leads to Hotline Use Soaring”).  Blake Jenner and Becca Tobin made a PSA for Rainn that was aired during the episode.


Kitty and Ryder sharing their stories


Relating it Back


I have a friend who was sexually assaulted by a girl at a party, let’s call him Scott.  So it was after prom and Scott got way too drunk.  The girl was pursuing him all night and when he was finally at his limit in shots and beer, she took that as an opportunity to have sex with him.  The next morning Scott was horrified because he had a girlfriend, and also had no interest in the girl who pursued him.  She justified her having sex with Scott by saying they were both drunk and they didn’t know any better.  Because Scott was drunk, he did not have the mental ability to say “no”.  At first Scott didn’t report this because he was afraid of what other people would say about him.  He told me that people would call him crazy for not wanting a hot girl to have sex with him.  He was afraid of being called gay, weak, girly, and a prude.  He said that saying no to sex isn’t manly, that he should be bragging about what happened.  The gendered norms he saw in media influenced his decision to stay quiet.  Eventually he told the faculty, but after we had graduated so not many people knew about it.  Gendered roles in media may be influencing male rape victims to stay quiet.  Luckily there are shows such as Glee and organizations such as Rainn that are willing to speak out on the issues of rape against males to help break the gendered norms.



Wood, Julia. Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture. Tenth. Boston, MA : Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2013. 260-316. Print.

“Glee Partnership Leads to Hotline Use Soaring.” N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jun 2013. <>.

“Who Are The Victims?.” N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jun 2013. <>.

“Men As Rape Victims: Obama Administration Expands Definition Of Sex Crime.” N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Jun 2013. <>.

Bringing Awareness to Resting Bitch Face

May 27th, 2013

I’m driving down the highway, listening to my favorite radio show, when I heard of a very serious epidemic that is effecting people all over America, resting bitch face.  Bethany, one of the regulars on Elvis Duran in the Morning show, was joking around about how she has resting bitch face.  Basically resting bitch face is when you look like a bitch when you are not showing any particular emotion.  For example when looking at a computer screen, your face may show a sense of bitchiness.  This relates to kinesics.  Kinesics is a form of nonverbal communication.  Even if you are not a bitch, your face may show differently.

Just about everyone is aware of McKayla Maroney, or better yet, that she is never impressed.  McKayla Maroney was on the 2012 Olympics Women’s Gymnastics team.  During the Olympics she was shown on camera making what some would categorize as a “bitch face”.  Ever since her on-camera resting bitch face moment, a stream of spoofs were put online with the quote “McKayla Maroney is not impressed”.  No matter what kind of person she is, most of America puts her in the category of being a bitch.  Check out this interview with McKayla Marnoey about her “not impressed” face.


“McKayla Maroney Has Serious Resting Bitch Face”

Resting bitch face does not only affect Olympic gymnasts, it can also ruin relationships between Real Housewives.  On the Real Housewives of Orange County a long-time friendship between Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Barney came to a screeching halt when Tamra supposedly gave Vicki the “evil-eye”.  One look created a massive blow-up that strained a relationship that viewers deemed unbreakable.  On the season 7 finale Tamra rolled her eyes at Vicki for toasting to one of the other housewives that Tamra is not particularly fond of.  Vicki’s at the time boyfriend commented on Tamra’s kinesics saying she was a bitch for rolling her eyes.  Although Tamra admitted to rolling her eyes, she denied giving Vicki an evil eye.  No matter what Tamra’s intentions were, Vicki and Brooks just assumed she was being a bitch.

Our facial expressions can determine what someone thinks of us or our personalities.  If we look mean, someone may perceive us as mean.  I have a friend who no matter what expression she is feeling, looks very judgmental and uninterested.  Her facial expression says nothing about her real personality.  She is one of the nicest people I know and has an infectious laugh, but when she isn’t laughing, she looks like the meanest person you will ever meet.  This is just an example as to how our kinesics may not always be a reliable source to our personalities.

During the Elvis Duran interview the only people that were pin-pointed for having resting bitch face were women.  Every caller that called in saying they had resting bitch face were women and when they talked about resting bitch face they said things such as “a lot of WOMEN I know have resting bitch face”.  How come men can’t have resting bitch face?  I don’t know about you, but I know of a couple of guys who definitely have it.  Is it because the term “bitch” is in the name?  Bitch has become a term that is used to describe women, so naturally a man cannot be categorized as a bitch.  Kinesics do not just effect women, men use facial expressions also.  My brother, for example, has the worst resting bitch face of any guy that I know.  He always looks mad, even when he isn’t.  However, if I used the term “resting bitch face” he would be mortified that I said he had “bitch” qualities.  Bitch is not a feminine term, it is a term that has been directed towards women.  Resting bitch face does not only effect the women of America, but every gender across our nation!


Meet the MARVELous Mary Paige Ciucci

May 20th, 2013

Hello all!  My name is Mary Paige Ciucci and I am a Senior at Longwood University.  I am a Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public Relations/ Organizational communications.  I live in Richmond and I am in love with my city.  The culture is so interesting and the scenery is magnificent.  This summer I will be interning at Diamond Healthcare Corporation.  I will be shadowing the Vice President of Communications.  I am so passionate about my church and Jesus Christ.  My faith is the foundation of who I am.  I also love Marvel movies, my favorite being the Avengers.  I love the Avengers because it brought together all of my favorite superheroes in one movie.  A fun fact about me is that I am obsessed with the 198o United States Olympic hockey team.  This is the team that the movie Miracle is based off of.  I love Miracle and can recite almost every line of the movie!  When the USA team beat the Soviet Union is by far my favorite moment in history.

I did not originally come to Longwood as a Communication Studies major.  I was originally Special Education and switched during my Sophomore year.  I am so glad I switched to Communication Studies because it suits my personality and my love for planning.  What I love most about this major is that I am never bored with the material we learn, it all fascinates me!  My experience is not the most extensive, but it is more of a work in progress.  One assignment I had this past year in Organizational Comm was to plan and implement an event on campus.  I loved it because I was able to use my desire for planning, and my creative thinking style.  One thing I learned through this assignment was that I need to become better at thinking on my toes.  Not everything will go according to plan and I need to learn how to improvise.  I have also learned a lot from Public Speaking.  I use my public speaking skills the most in my sorority.  As the public relations chair I give most of the speeches at our events.  I love public speaking now and I am comfortable in front of an audience.

I had the opportunity to take Women and Gender Studies the fall semester of my Sophomore year.  This is what ultimately convinced me to switch my major to Communication Studies.  I love learning about sex and gender.  Since taking that course I now see social constructs and stereotypes about gender in every day life.  One of my best friends is openly homosexual.  I find him to be very brave for going against gender norms and being openly gay.  Some people do not understand his decision, but he is a very masculine man who just happens to be attracted to the male sex.  I am so happy that some states are legalizing gay marriage, so he can have the equal opportunity to marry the person he loves someday.  I now look at movies and advertisements differently and see how gender stereotypes are portrayed.  I am fascinated with the world of gender and how it affects our society.

If The Cell Phone Fits…

December 6th, 2012

Is it possible to fall in love without ever actually meeting the person you are in love with?  Can you find a connection with someone without ever seeing his or her face?  I am left with the questions of whether or not you can trust someone you met online and if online relationships are fully satisfying to our interpersonal needs. In the movie A Cinderella Story Austin (played by Chad Michael Murray) and Sam (played by Hillary Duff) make an online connection on a Princeton chat room over their hopes and dreams of being accepted into Princeton.

The movie is about two high school seniors that meet on a Princeton chat room and continue keeping contact when they realize they are from the same high school.  Although they have this in common they never actually meet until the Halloween Homecoming dance.  This is a modern day Cinderella story where the prince is really an online mystery man and instead of a glass slipper, a cell phone is left behind.  Throughout the movie many interpersonal theories and concepts are shown between Sam and Austin’s relationship.

In the movie A Cinderella Story Austin and Sam’s relationship holds a sense of the relational tension Openness and Closedness.  The tension between openness and closedness comes from the need for privacy while still having open communication. Sam and Austin are open with each other when they share personal problems about their family and friends to one another, however; keeping their real identities private closes them off from one another.  An example of this is when Austin discloses information about his dad not supporting him becoming a writer.  The closedness comes when they still only refer to each other by their usernames “Nomad” and “Princeton Girl”.

Is it possible that Sam felt more comfortable disclosing her true colors while hiding behind an online curtain?  Instead of being prejudged by her “diner girl” status, she was able to show Austin who she really is.  She didn’t have to go along with her identity script.  An identity script is “a fundamental understanding of who we are and how we are supposed to live”(Wood, 2010).  Sam’s identity script is being the diner girl, therefor making her a social outcast.  According to the New York Times article Love, Lies, and What They Learned “lying is partly a result of tension between the desire to be truthful and the desire to put one’s best face forward.”  This goes back to the openness and closedness relational tension.  They monitor what they disclose to one another with the hopes of keeping some information private; in this case it is Sam’s real identity.

Sam uses stereotypes to identify Nomad before she actually meets him.  She assumes he will be “a guy who hangs out at Starbucks and reads poetry”(A Cinderella Story) instead of the class president and handsome quarterback.  By using these stereotypes she is placing Austin in a category of what she expects he will be like and what his interest will be based on how he describes himself online.  “Stereotypes are based on our perceptions of similarities between people or on social perspectives that we’ve internalized”(Wood, 2010).

Austin tries to play along with the direct definitions given to him by his dad and his peers.   Because he is the quarterback, he is supposed to go to USC and play football, not become a writer at Princeton.  Due to the “low-quality relationships”(Ong, 2009) Austin is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his lifestyle and in result feels a sense of loneliness.  On average, “males exhibit more social loneliness”(Ong, 2009).  Sam shows him how to be a better person, which makes him reevaluate all his other relationships.  Sam expands who Austin is and takes him out of the direct definitions that are placed on him.

On the fateful night of the Halloween Homecoming dance, Sam and Austin finally meet in the middle of the dance floor.  Austin is fully revealing who he really is while Sam appears as a masked beauty.  Due to the downers in Sam’s life, the wicked stepmom and stepsisters, she is afraid that Nomad won’t accept her for who she really is, the diner girl.   The downers in her life give her a negative self worth.     The reflected appraisal by her stepfamily and peers makes Sam believe that she is nothing more than a servant girl.  The way that they see Sam shapes the way she sees herself.  “I’m diner girl, I do what diner girls do”. (A Cinderella Story)  In this instance it actually harms her self-esteem and makes her hesitant to reveal her identity to Austin.

As they walk outside and play twenty questions, Austin and Sam move into the explorational communication stage in their relationship.  Although they have been in constant communication, they are exploring each others interest and building trust between each other as Austin and Sam, instead of Nomad and Princeton girl.  Austin brings novelty to the night when he asks Sam to dance, even when there is no music to dance to, which takes her by surprise.  As they dance in the moonlight under a gazebo embellished with floral arrangements and lights, they continue to get to know each other although they already share an intimate bond.  Throughout the entire night Austin is trying to unmask who Sam really is by asking a series of questions.  The environmental factors of the night make Sam feel like a princess.  She becomes willing to tell Austin the truth about whom she is, until her cellphone alarm buzzes.  Sam becomes insecure and never reveals to Austin her true identity, leaving her cellphone behind as she runs from the ball.


Sam sees Austin’s physical appearance as something higher than her reach.  His outer appearance is a nonverbal way of showing his social standing.  In her mind “he is expecting Malibu Barbie” (A Cinderella Story) when Austin really just wants to find his Cinderella.  She thinks that their physical appearances don’t match social norms, which makes her feel as though Austin will turn her away once he realizes she doesn’t belong to his social circle.   Physical appearance, although the most shallow of nonverbal communication, can be a determination of a relationship.

Sam’s stepsisters and Austin’s jealous ex-girlfriend publicly share Sam and Austin’s private emails at a pep rally.  This is Sam is exposed as Cinderella to Austin, and the entire school.  Through this Sam becomes empowered and stands up to her stepmom and eventually Austin for keeping quiet at the pep rally.  It is not until the big football game that Austin realizes Sam is the one filling his lonely void.  He leaves the field right before the last play and finds his princess in the stands, kissing her to seal the deal.   Sam and Austin end up going to Princeton together, and move forward to the intensifying communication stage in their relationship, also known as euphoria.  In this stage they can have an open relationship and there is no more need for the “getting to know you” questions.  This stage is when happiness is intensified.

Sam and Austin could have avoided all of the drama if they would have practiced open communication from the start.  Instead of hiding their identity scripts and going along with direct definitions, they should have committed to the people they talked to online.  Instead of worrying what the other would think of them, they should have been honest, but that wouldn’t make for an interesting movie, now would it?


Work Cited:


Wood, J. T. (2010). Interpersonal communication: everyday encounters (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


Rosenbloon, S. (2011).  Love Lies and What They Learned. The New York Times.  Retrieved from


LeTrent, S. (2011). “It’s Complicated”: Handling Social Media When Your Relationship Implodes. CNN Living. Retrieved from


Schulten, K. (2011).  Do Relationships “Expand” You?. The New York Times. Retrieved from


Hardie, E. Buzwell, S. (2006). Finding Love Online: The Nature and Frequency of Australian Adults’ Internet Relationships. Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. volume 4, article 1.


Ong, C. Cheng, S. Wang, C. (2011).  Comparative Loneliness of Users Versus Nonusers of Online Chatting.  Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Volume 14.

Rosman, Mark. dir. A Cinderella Story. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2004. Film.

Video retrieved from youtube.

Video retrieved from youtube.

Heart picture from clipart.

Quote made on Collage Creator.




A Chair is still a Chair, but this House is not a Home.

October 19th, 2012


Structures and outer shields are not what radiate a “homey” feel. We fill our houses with things that express our individuality, and that hold meaning.  Artifacts are used everyday to help our personal identities shine through.  How we dress, the decorations in our houses, and even what we lug around with us can be considered artifacts.

One thing I find to be extra intriguing about college is how people decorate their rooms.  How you decorate your room will be a first impression, give comfort when you are feeling homesick, and most of all be an expression of yourself.  In this video, Longwood Cribs, various Longwood University students show off their rooms.  Each student has his or her own style and personality, which is shown throughout their living spaces.

The way you decorate your room is a nonverbal way of saying who you are.  For example, my room is focused around the colors black, gray, and green.  My room also has a very modern feel and is covered with pictures.  This shows anyone who sees it that I am chic and sociable.  My room has transformed from four walls into a comfortable living space by using artifacts.  Walking through the halls of any dorm, you can see a variety of personalities without actually talking to any of the room owners.  It is what they use to fill the space that nonverbally defines their identity.

Artifacts start from when we are born.  Although we have no control as newborns how our room looks, we can add changes as we grow up and find new interests.  Our rooms change with our interests, our age, and our experiences.  Artifacts are a great way to identify our life journeys, and our hopes and dreams.  They also indicate our sense of self. With the use of artifacts we can change an entire house into a home



Woods, J. C. (2010). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, Sixth Edition.Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning



What Does Sex Got To Do With It?

September 24th, 2012

I know I’m a girl because growing up I was exposed to “girly” things.  I know my brother is a boy because he played with action figures instead of Barbie dolls.  This is an example of direct definition.  We are exposed to many different factors when determining our sense of self.  Direct definition is communication that tells us who we are by explicitly labeling us and our behaviors (Woods, 2010).  Basically this means that others tell us what we should like, how we should act, and what kind of person we should be.

I have noticed that as our generations become more accepting, their offspring lack a generalized idea about what they should be like based on their sex.  More and more toys are becoming bisexual and featuring a mix of genders in the pictures on the boxes.  However, there are still many cases of gender stereotyping when it comes to children’s toys. Take a trip to your local toy store and take a look on the different aisles, one will be a action-packed with more violence and roughness and the other will be a sea of various shades of the color pink.  “Girl toys” are centered on the stereotypical jobs of a 1950’s housewife.  Kitchen sets, baby dolls, fake pearls, and dress-up clothes cover the aisles meant to draw in young girls.  “Boy toys” emphasize violence, athleticism, and physical ability.  Nerf guns and sports equipment make up the boy aisles.  I can’t help but wonder, why do we feel the need to label what the children should play with based on their sex?  A spunky young girl named Riley questions why her gender determines the toys she should play with.

A toy store in London, Hamleys, recently caught on to the direct definitions they were sending about gender and changed how they arranged their toys.  Now instead of having specific aisles for boys and girls they label them based on their “types”.  For example, they now have an Outdoors section with all toys that fit into that category.  So instead of sending off the message that only boys can have these toys, they are saying that anyone interested in the outdoors can have them.  By placing the toys based on gender, children are given a direct definition of how they should be.  Girls can be athletic; boys can play with baby dolls, why should we tell them otherwise?  If children could be taught acceptance through their toys, wouldn’t that mean a more accepting society in the future?




Woods, J. C. (2010). Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, Sixth Edition. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning


Orenstein, P.  (2011, December 29).  Should The World Of Toys Be Gender-Free. The New York Times.

Retrieved from:



About Mary Paige Ciucci!

August 22nd, 2012

Hey everyone!  My name is Mary Paige Ciucci, I am a Junior here at Longwood University, and I’m a Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public Relations.  I was born and raised in Mechanicsville, Virginia but reside here in Farmville during the school year.  I am excited to have a “grown up” house with my two best friends this year instead of living on campus in the dorms.  I am starting my adventures with cooking, cleaning, and even help taking care of the coolest dog ever, Costa.  Even though I have already had major cooking malfunctions, I can already tell that this year will be all about learning, laughing, and making amazing memories.

If there is a word that sums up my personality, style, or interests, I have yet to come across it.  I like what I like, no explanations needed!  Some of my passions are singing, dancing, hanging out with friends, surfing, and listening to my brother’s band, BATTLEGHOST, play live shows.  While on campus you can usually find me with my AMAZING sisters of Sigma Kappa sorority, singing in the mixed acapella group, High Street Harmonies, and I am about to start my newest journey here at school by joining the group AMORE and becoming a campus ambassador for the organization People Water.  My goals for this semester is to make all A’s, learn to skateboard, and organize an event to raise money for People Water.

My road to becoming a Communication Studies major has been a winding one.  I came to Longwood with the intention of being a Special Education major.  After my first semester I realized that teaching isn’t my passion, so I switched to Sociology with hopes of working with the Special Olympics organization after graduation.  Once again I was discouraged to find that I wasn’t interested in the material I was learning and decided to switch majors one last time.  My dad’s friend suggested Communications because of my “winning smile.”  I looked on Longwood\’s Communication Studies website and was immediately intrigued.  Now I LOVE what I am learning, and look forward to my classes.  So far my favorite class has been Public Speaking.  I was the kid in high school who was terrified of giving speeches, but after taking Public Speaking, I love it.

After I close this chapter of my life, I want to move to Virginia Beach and attend bible college, while also getting my Master’s in theology.  I want to eventually work in Youth Ministries.  I will use the knowledge I have gained to talk in front of large groups of young adults and use a communication style that youth will relate to.  I still have so much more to learn, but I am thankful for the knowledge and confidence I have gained so far from this major!

Why wear the pants when you can wear the bikini?

June 14th, 2012

Ideology has become a major part of today’s advertising.  “Ideology is the mental frameworks different classes and social groups deploy in order to make sense of the way society works” (Griffin, 344).   In simpler terms, this means that by using advertising we show the world how society should work.  This method has been shown in advertisements for alcohol, fashion, sports, and so many other industries.

How do these ads impact the way people think about our society?  When targeted to the appropriate audience, ideology can actually be rather affective.  For example, if an ad shows that you must have a certain grill in order to be the better man, some men might get that grill just based on the manliness of it.  Or if a certain perfume will make boys fall in love with you, teenage girls will go buy it hoping it works on their crush.  Ideology can be a very powerful tool in advertising.


In a recent Skyy vodka ad, a man is shown holding a bottle of the vodka and two martini glasses while standing over a woman who is sunbathing.  This ad has many ideologies all showing society the different roles of men and women.  The most obvious one is the man standing over the woman.  By him standing over her he is showing his power over her.  Another ideology is that the man is wearing a suit while the woman is in a bikini.  Unless you are a model, most jobs do not require a bathing suit, which indicates the assumption that the woman does not work and relies on the man’s paycheck.  The suit reinforces the man’s power and social hierarchy.  The woman shown also gives unrealistic expectations to how a woman should look.  She has very large breasts, an extremely tiny waist, and golden tan skin.  Most women do not look like this and chances are the model doesn’t naturally look like this either.  Through photo enhancing this ad shows society how the “perfect woman”should appear.


In order to go against these ideologies I tweaked the photo so that it means the complete opposite of the original ad.  I simply put in one phrase that changes the meaning.  The phrase I chose was “men are good for two things, blocking the sun and pouring another drink.”  By using this phrase it gives the woman complete power.  The man standing over her is simply the request to block the sun, perhaps to provide some shade.  This shows that he is willing to obey the woman’s request, as well as him holding the vodka and martini glasses.  He is ready to pour her a drink whenever she demands one.  His suit has lost total meaning, whether he works or not he is still less important than the woman.  He could be a worker for the woman and the suit is his uniform.

Another theory that this ad can relate to is the cultivation theory.  What if instead of the examples of violence on television, people were influenced by gender roles?  What if certain gender roles became a product of mainstreaming?  “Mainstreaming is the blurring, blending, and bending process by which heavy TV viewers develop a common outlook through constant exposure to the same images and labels” (Griffin, 370).  For example, what if one certain role for men was portrayed and one certain role for females were portrayed?  People who always saw those specific roles would begin to believe that that is what the real roles are and should be.  That puts both men and women at a disadvantage because it limits the roles they can portray.  When ads using ideology are spread across magazines, and mainly television, they give an unrealistic image of what our society should look like.  This concept reminds me of the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry.  In the book society is assigned their role and should never question it.  Ideology tells us what society should look like, if we never questioned it our world would essentially be like the world in The Giver.

Ideology in advertisement can be strategic but also dangerous.  Our world should be accepting of everyone and everything, which ideology limits.  It puts a certain image in our heads instead of all the possibilities.  By challenging ideologies we are challenging the idea of the status quo.



Lowry, L. (1993). The giver. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.


Griffin, Em. (2009). A first look at communication theory. Ryan, Michael (Ed.), Symbolic interactionism of george herbert mead (pp.344-377). New York, NY: Mcgraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Morgan, Michael. Shanahan, James. (2010).  The state of cultivation. Journal of broadcasting and electronic media, 54, (pp.337-355.)

Doi: 10.1080/08838151003735018


Bekalu, Mesfin Awoke. (2012). Communicating Ideologies: An Examination of Web Definitional Examples. Online journal of communication and media technologies, 2, (pp.47-65)

Retrieved from:

Collins, Rebecca. (2011). Content Analysis of Gender Roles in Media: Where are we now and where should we go? Sex roles, 64, (pp. 290-298)

Retrieved from:






There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth.

June 11th, 2012

I have the absolute privilege of working for my Aunt and with eight of my cousins.  I work at a local snow cone place and for the most part it is really fun, but of course there is one worker who no one wants to be stuck working with.  For privacy reasons I’ll refer to her as Ellen.  We all love Ellen but the way she views herself as a worker is completely different to how the rest of us view her work ethics.

Ellen’s personal story is that she is the hardest working of the bunch.  She always stocks up supplies, cleans until the room is sparkling, and constantly wears a friendly face in front of customers.  Personal stories is part of the symbolic interpretation of stories.  “Personal stories are tales told by employees that put them in a favorable light” (Griffin, 265).  The textbook gave an example from one of my favorite television shows, The Office.  They used Dwight as the example and shared how he thinks he is the golden employee.  This is what sparked my thoughts about Ellen.

Along with the example of Dwight the book gave an example of Jim and how he contradicts Dwight’s work ethics, that is called collegial stories.  “Collegial stories are positive or negative anecdotes about others in the organization; descriptions of how things ‘really work'” (Griffin, 266).  We all love Ellen but we see how she really works.  She complains when we have a long line of customers, refuses to refill napkins or spoons, and never offers to help clean at the end of the day.  A big part of her work attitude is her age.  She is the youngest out of all the employees and she hasn’t had any other job experience so she is still learning what having a job entails.  In her mind she is the perfect employee, but just like the rest of us sees what she is doing wrong she nit picks the rest of us as well.  This is all a part of the culture in a workplace.

Every workplace has a similar culture, whether it be in an office, a snow cone stand, or a restaurant, people notice each other’s work ethics.  People can interpret working styles and attitudes in all different ways.  No one will freely admit that they are a terrible worker, so personal stories are probably embellishing the truth.  Listening to coworkers, or collegial stories, is most likely where the closest thing to the truth lies.  Regardless, there is a work culture that will be around as long as you work with other people and it is all centered around symbolic interpretation of stories.




Griffin, Em. (2009). A first look at communication theory. Ryan, Michael (Ed.), Symbolic interactionism of george herbert mead (pp.261-269). New York, NY: Mcgraw-Hill Companies, Inc.