Photographing the Self in Herself

The Toronto photographer Jennifer Toole has come a long way since teaching herself photography using YouTube tutorials. With her background in creative arts, studying musical theatre at Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts in Scarborough and a degree in creative writing from Montreal’s Concordia University, she progressed through a a series of professional photography jobs, including house photographer for Toronto’s Northbound Leather, and later Soho House. Eventually four of Toole’s images were published by Vogue Italia.

                                                                                                                         Photograph by Jennifer Toole

 

As you can see, Jennifer Toole’s work does not conform to the stereotypical manufactured images of the female form. It is naturalistic and uncompromising in capturing real beauty. It is therefore no wonder that she, in collaboration with Australian actress Caitlin Stasey, co-founded the website Herself.com , which showcases nude portraits of Ontario women photographed in natural light.

“Herself is a gesture to women for women by women; a chance to witness the female form in all its honesty without the burden of the male gaze, without the burden of appealing to anyone. These women are simply & courageously existing, immortalized within these photos. Within their words, their experiences and stories are offered on Herself in the hopes of encouraging solidarity – that maybe we as women will take comfort in the triumphs of others rather than revelling in each other’s defeats. Let us reclaim our bodies. Let us take them back from those who seek to profit from our insecurity.” -Caitlin Stasey

 

“I feel weird and abnormal for having hair, for having zits, for having to reapply deodorant, for having to pee… Women are not real on TV and in ads they are just an image.” -Chelsea Photo by Jennifer Toole

 

This site, and the work done here, breaks the confines of contemporary cultural views of the female body. It humanizes the models with personal interviews and images that are not restricted to commercial body images that re-enforce a set of values, beliefs and ideology designed to sell products based on the aspirations of manufactured beauty.

Post-natal yoga – become the woman you never were ! Did this model even give birth ? Yes,  this is a real ad, that is as close as it gets to reality.

 

The battle for a healthy realistic expectation of the human body of all genders is ongoing. The business of fashion and “beauty” products drives Mass Media in numerous forms, from advertising to entertainment. Breaking through this heavily financed culture and the constructed reality that supports it is no easy task and Jennifer Toole’s work must be both recognized and commended. Besides links provided in the post, you can see more of her work on her blog, dailytoole.

 

 

Jennifer Toole by D. Gillespie

 

 

 

 

 

Toronto is One Big Lazy Susan: Advice & Tips for Refugees

Vinay Menone, Toronto Star arts and life columnist & feature writer, offers observations on adapting to Canadian society and the specific advantages offered in Toronto.

This is a world-class city with great prospects. All you need to do is work hard and follow the rules. Don’t worry, you will — nothing elevates a human more than a second chance at life, especially when the first one was snatched away rather than squandered. When you gaze up at the CN Tower, think of it as pointing at the cosmos and the infinite possibilities now within your reach.

 

He points out the  range of food  as an example of how cultural touchstones are always near.

 

The good news: not much needs to change with your diet. Toronto is one big Lazy Susan, upon which all of the world’s spices and regional dishes are just a few twirls away. Kibbeh, tabbouleh, shawarma, mujaddara, you name it and someone is selling it. Or they are preparing it in restaurants such as Byblos, Tabule and Takht-e Tavoos. 

 

It is his observations on mass media popular culture that are of  particular interest. Menon provides the insight on how to navigate the flood of Mass Media influences and recognizes that it has value , while also being a continuum of styles, content and messages, “I’m not suggesting Star Wars or Miley Cyrus are equivalent to Shakespeare or Mozart” . He identifies the wide range of possibilities available to widening and sharing in community experience. from opera and live theatre to the the AGO, ROM, Science Centre, Ripley’s Aquarium and Toronto Zoo.

If you have children, don’t be alarmed by how popular culture shapes their interests. Music, movies, fashion, games, TV, books, these diversions only thrive in places of imagination and harmony. This is why religious extremists, like the ones you are fleeing, are so eager to impose barbaric laws that govern daily life.

“Art is a path to enlightenment.

It is the enemy of totalitarianism.”

 Vinay Menone, Toronto Star

 

 

 

Toronto Yiddish sign survives – last vestige of Jewish enclave on Baldwin

Toronto Yiddish sign survivesWe seldom stop to think how Media Literacy is connected to history, especially when considering the mundane & commonplace  elements of life. We take for granted the shop windows with their signs, logos and advertisement claims. But what if we could see a shop window that allows us to see another time, taking us back decades into the past century ? Especially fascinating if the shop window featured a declaration in a language that is disappearing  – showing us the cultural layers of a city through text, typography & language in the form of  a piece of Mass Media that is a cultural artifact

“Butter, Cheese, Cream, Eggs — Fresh Every Day” are the unremarkable words spelled out by the Yiddish sign on the window of 29 Baldwin St. .  But the hand-painted letters, an advertisement for the former Mandel’s Creamery, are possibly the last surviving remnants of Baldwin Village’s former life as a landing spot for Jewish immigrants.

The sign is believed to date back to the 1940s, and was preserved even after Mandel’s was taken over by John’s Italian Caffe decades ago. But John’s recently closed, and a new tenant moved into 29 Baldwin. Last month, large decals announcing the arrival of a bubble-tea shop were plastered across the storefront, and the Yiddish sign was nowhere to be seen. Rumours circulated that the new tenants had chiselled it off. (Ben Spurr  Toronto StarStaff Reporter, Sun Jul 12 2015)

Media Literacy can help extend cultural awareness and a sense of history. In this case, the new tenant, the Formocha tea shop’s owner  Daniel Li, was very welcoming to maintaining the window, as had John’s Italian Cafe. The incorporation of the Jewish signage into a Taiwanese establishment honoured the past and exemplified the Canadian ideal of multiculturalism.

This was a generous expression of Canadian values. In terms of Mass Media  and Business Interest, the store’s identifiable brand has added a unique element. It demonstrates corporate citizenship that enhances the brand and reaches out to the community at large. Furthermore, this good news story provides an example of Mass Media and Marketing being used in a socially positive manner.

Local man goes furniture shopping, gets featured in company’s newspaper advertisement

Bad Boy store uses ironic marketing in a very effective manner. Those who support/identify with Ford and his persona will see a just one of us view of the store’s image. Those with a less charitable view of Ford’s public persona will see the irony and believe the store is sharing in the joke with them. They have managed to connect a single ad with two diverse target audiences. Add to this that the advertisement itself becomes a news item and they have gotten free advertising that could go viral.

National Post

Toronto Star scan Toronto Star scan

A Toronto furniture store has rewarded a loyal customer with a prominent place in its marketing materials.

A Mr. Robert Bruce Ford, a lifelong resident of Etobicoke and a football enthusiast, appears in newspaper ads running in the Toronto Star this week for the Bad Boys furniture chain, founded by former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman and known for claiming that “noooobody” can beat its prices.

An ad that ran in the newspaper Wednesday shows Mr. Ford, currently undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of cancer, reclining in a leather sofa and posing with staff.

“He came into the store, he bought something,” Bad Boy CEO Blayne Lastman told Metro.

He added that Mr. Ford “negotiated a great deal.”

When a manager asked Mr. Ford if he wanted to be featured in an ad, he readily agreed, apparently indifferent to the fact that Bad Boy’s logo is…

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