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Why We Need to Recognize Frameworks: Tapping Into the Subconscious

Many forms of entertainment and information conveyed to the public use frameworks that, in turn, influence opinion. To use a framework means to intentionally offer emphasis in some areas and less in others. In doing so, the conveyer can manipulate what the audience takes away from their content. In my studies in university, I spend a lot of time thinking about frameworks in media and politics; however, frameworks manifest themselves in many other ways. It’s important to recognize frameworks so we can avoid manipulation because if we’re aware of them, it allows us to reflect.

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Fashion Models as a Case Study

Many fashion companies are criticized for their lack of a range in models and sizes, especially when it comes to marketing clothing. Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t even sell sizes above a 10 or a large, and Brandy Melville is known for their ‘one size fits most’ mantra. The dangerous framework often used by fashion companies like these is only emphasizing thin bodies, as society overwhelmingly deems thin as beautiful. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being thin; however, this framework excludes those with curvier bodies, which is harmful. By companies like Abercrombie & Fitch only emphasizing thin models, the consumer can possibly internalize that the only way to be fashionable is to be thin. However, in my opinion, if consumers are able to recognize this framework, it can challenge this internalization.

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What does it mean to recognize a framework?

Frameworks are especially important when a consumer is approaching new information. Using the fashion model example again, if a young child is walking through the mall for the first time without prior discussion and sees only thin models, most likely they are going to feel self-conscious if they don’t resemble those models. It is human nature to conform, so when frameworks prevent individual conformity, consumers are left negatively impacted. However, if the young child were told before entering the mall that the models in the advertisements would look different from them and that’s okay, the child would more likely leave the mall without feeling hurt.

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Why is recognizing frameworks so important?

If we can approach news articles and popular culture thinking about what is emphasized and the motivations behind such emphasis, we can walk away with a greater peace of mind. Recognizing frameworks can give us a tiny bit more leeway to forming our own opinion based on the factual information conveyed, rather than what the conveyer wants us to believe. Frameworks are not all bad, for example, I love the frameworks used in liberal news media because they often offer an intersectional exposure to information. However, on the other hand, many can be harmful to mental health and misinform public opinion. In my opinion, for these dangerous cases, recognizing the framework gives it less power.

I love studying frameworks in university, and it’s really fascinating to see them in social media, my favorite television shows, and articles. I encourage you to recognize the frameworks in your lives!

Sources: 1, 2

Elizabeth Webler

U Mass Amherst '22

Elizabeth studies Philosophy and Political Media Communications at UMass Amherst. Her favorite topics to write about include politics, personal growth, and current events. She loves reading, watching SNL and exercising in her free time!
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