We are immersed in it on a daily basis, love it or detest it, popular culture's widespread universal impact can’t be denied.
Dr Marilyn Bromberg has analysed aspects of popular culture turning the lightweight phenomena into heavyweight research, which could help sculpt change for female body image in the future.
Starting this year at UWA as a senior lecturer in the Law School, Canadian-born Marilyn admits that her fascination for popular culture helps to drive her research on social media and the courts and body image and the law.
She wrote the first scholarly article in Australia in the area of body image and the law on “Beauty is only Photoshop Deep: Legislating Models’ BMIs and Photoshopping Images”, published in the Journal of Law and Medicine in 2014, attracting TV and radio coverage on receiving a torrid of blistering and empathetic responses from the public.
“When it comes to body image, perfection doesn’t exist and I’m very passionate about seeing change – I want more women to be happy with their bodies.
“If I can start the conversation, whether it receives good or bad media doesn’t concern me, but getting people to talk about a topic affecting so many women and girls is important,” Marilyn says.
In Australia about 1 million people suffer from eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia. One contributing factor to women developing eating disorders can be when they try to mirror the images that they see in social media and advertising.
“Glamourous online pictures of unhealthily thin women can make women miserable because they aspire to be unhealthily thin like the images they see.
“It is sad that I’ve received emails from parents who have daughters as young as six years of age who believe they are fat.
“Women should know that these images are typically not real, given that they are photo shopped and airbrushed to make their assets appear much thinner than they are. I’ll devote the next 30 years to working in this area if I think that it has to be done,” she says.
In 2013, Israel was the first in the world to pass the Israeli Photoshop Law, stipulating that if someone edits an image to make the model appear thinner, the image must clearly state that it was modified.
Dr Bromberg and Cindy Halliwell, from the University of Melbourne, call this area of law Body Image Law. Body Image Law encompasses bills, laws and government actions that help to improve the body image of the general public.
“At the moment the Australian Federal Government is not in support of such laws but we can assist by educating women about media literacy,” Marilyn says.
Marilyn is doing just that when she speaks on Body Image Law to women Lawyer’s groups in WA and Melbourne and students and staff at the Australian National University.
Marilyn is creative with her research. For example, she frequently takes relevant lyrics from pop songs and uses them in her writing. For example, she has co-authored soon to be published article, 'All about that bass and Photoshopping a Model’s Waist: Introducing Body Image Law’, using a play on words from Meaghan Trainor’s popular 2014 song in the title.
As a proud mother of 18 month-old Kennedy Maverick Krawitz, Marilyn also divides her busy schedule between practising law at Dr Bromberg Legal, pursuing her research and teaching, exercising, playing the piano, speaking fluent French and other cultural activities.