Eleventh Brown Bag of the Semester – December 5, 2014


Ashley Kraus, PhD student, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

On the Street: A Content Analysis of Body Imagery in Streetstyle Fashion Blogs

Research on ideal body imagery in the mass media indicates that a curvaceously thin ideal is the norm for females and a lean, muscular ideal is the norm for males. Perhaps this finding has remained consistent due to the focus of body ideals in traditional media as opposed to new media. To date, relatively few studies have examined body types online. Streetstyle fashion blogs provide an opportunity to understand whether this media genre offers a healthy alternative to the lean, idealized images featured in traditional media because ordinary people (referred to as “pedestrian models”) are typically featured in lieu of traditional models. I will discuss the ways in which pedestrian models are portrayed in streetstyle blogs, especially in regards to: body size, body positioning, and facial prominence. I will also discuss the ways in which these portrayals are reinforced via reader commentary.


Nicole Martins, Assistant Professor, Department of Telecommunications, Media School

A Content Analysis of Teen Parenthood in ‘Teen Mom’ Reality Programming

Research suggests that sexual health messages embedded in entertainment programming may reduce sexual risk-taking. Entertainment media can promote positive health-related decisions because they overcome the resistance that viewers may have to overtly educational messages. In this talk, I will focus on the potential impact of two “edutainment” programs in particular: MTV’s 16 & Pregnant and Teen Mom.  MTV and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy assert that these programs are a great “teaching tool” for teens about the consequences of unprotected sex and may be responsible for a decline in the teen birth rate. Yet existing research has found mixed support for this claim. I will discuss the ways in which teen pregnancy is portrayed in these programs, and the research that has examined whether exposure to these messages is related to adolescents’ pregnancy-related beliefs, attitudes and sexual behavior.

Dissertation dogs: How the love of a good dog can get you through anything including grad school

By: Niki Fritz

Jack is Ashley's new Border Collie puppy and can best be described as both regal and silly

Jack is Ashley’s new Border Collie puppy and can best be described as both regal and silly.

The past year has been a big one for IU Telecom grad student Ashely Kraus. She defended her thesis, finished the first year of her doctoral studies, and made possibly one of the biggest decisions of her life: she decided to get a dog. As Ashley explains, after she defended her thesis and knew Bloomington was going to be home for a while, “I knew I was ready for a dog. I was ready for Jack.”

But Jack wasn’t the dog Ashley had planned for. “I had planned on getting a dog that was two to four years old. But when I saw Jack and he looked up at me with those eyes, I just knew he was the right puppy.”

Jack is a Border Collie puppy who is filled with energy and an evident sweetness. It is virtually impossible not to fall in love with him at first lick, despite his occasional over-eagerness and tendency to jump on you before you can make it fully through the front door. (Although this is something Mama Ashley is working hard to train Jack out of, through a complex system of treats and water bottle sprays.)

Upon first greet with Jack it is also clear that he is just a little bit eccentric. Jack plays by himself by throwing his bone over his head and then furiously jumping up to catch it, as if he wasn’t the one who threw it in the first place. And every time he does this little trick, Ashley laughs hysterically. It seems as if they have their own little idiosyncratic human-dog communication.

What is clear about Ashley and Jack is that sometimes there is just a right fit, a perfect dog for a lucky grad student to make winter nights, grad school and life in general a little more enjoyable.

Ashley and Jack: a match made in heaven or in reality at the shelter

Ashley and Jack: a match made in heaven or in reality at the White River Humane Society.

But beyond being a riot, Jack helps Ashley be more productive in concrete ways.

“Jack helps give me structure. I have to be home to let him out,” Ashley says. “Plus he makes it easier to work from home. Before I went a little stir crazy. Even though the conversations I have so far with Jack are on- sided, it is still nice to have him here. I don’t feel like I’m studying by myself all day.”

Of course as with any family member, things aren’t always easy with Jack.

“He was such a sweet kid; now he is kind of entering his teens and he doesn’t listen as well,” Ashley explains. There have been a few recent accidents and the case of the eaten dollar bill.

In addition to an eaten pen, Ashley came home one day to find this almost-cartoon-like eaten up dollar bill

In addition to an eaten pen, Ashley came home one day to find this almost-cartoon-like eaten up dollar bill.

But Ashley knows this is just a learning phase for Jack and that soon, hopefully before she starts dissertating, Jack will mature a bit, grow out of his teenage years and the two will hit a groove together. For Ashley, Jack is her dog but also her study buddy, the pup who makes her feel less lonely.

“A lot of work as an academic is alone. Even though we collaborate, we are working day in and day out alone,” Ashley says. “It was really lonely working alone all day. I imagine when you are dissertating it is even more lonely. I think having Jack will help me feel less alone. And it will be nice to have someone to talk to about T Swift.”

As for any final words about the role of dogs in an academic’s life, Ashley was clear the benefits of a new forever friend outweigh any eaten shoes, pens or dollar bills.

“Jack is very therapeutic to have around,” Ashley says. “He just gives you unconditional love. And everyone needs more love.”

At this point in the interview, Jack, who may have been a little sick of being ignored, pushed his sweet head under my arms and typed this message: “Fvgs  z A,” which I’m pretty sure is Jack speech for “I love you too Ashley. Now let’s play!”

Ashley isn’t the only Telecom grad student with a forever friend. Check out Mona and Alexis’ awesome dogs!

Lean, Mean, Kick-balling Machine

By Mona Malacane

Some graduate students fill their Thursday nights with grading, writing papers, reading articles, catching up on their DVR, or gathering at Crazy Horse. But Ashley Kraus, Glenna Read, and Teresa Lynch, have been spending their Thursday evenings a little differently lately … As the lean, mean, kick-balling machine of Telecom.

Formidable kickball athletes

Formidable kickball athletes.

This semester, Ashley (a kickball veteran), Glenna, and Teresa are playing for Team Swift Kick in the Grass, one of 12 kickball teams in a league organized by the Bloomington Adult Sports Club. The rest of their team is made up of other kickball enthusiasts from the Bloomington/Bedford area (including some SPEA students). So far, the crew has played four games, with a record of 2-2 – their most recent W is from last week’s game against the Alcohballics.

They all play different roles on the team and appreciate different aspects of the sport. Teresa plays infield at second base and switches with another team member as first base coach. If you know Teresa Lynch at all, you won’t be surprised to learn that her favorite aspect of the game is the competitiveness and kicking butt and calling names; she currently leads the team in “RKIs” (runs kicked in). Ashley covers the outfield and says that her strength is “avoiding getting on base.” Glenna handles the left center of the infield and her highlight of the season so far was catching the game-ending fly ball when they played against last year’s league champions, Derby Sanchez.

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2

Team Swift Kick in the Grass after beating the Alcohballics 8-2.

But competition and winning aside, Teresa summed up their favorite part of playing kickball together quite nicely, “It’s fun getting together with people and doing something that isn’t school related and is not drinking … so often we just get together and go to bars. It’s nice doing something active.” I’m sure the Telecommandos, FC Telecom, and the Telecom running group would all echo this statement.

Although I’m not part of any Telecom intramural teams and therefore can’t speak from that experience, I still think it’s great to feel camaraderie with your colleagues both on a field and in the building – a feeling that I think we foster pretty well in our department. Because in the end (yes, I’m going to use the trite saying), it’s all about having fun.

Their team motto: “Sometimes we win … sometimes we lose … but we always have fun … unless we don’t …”

So if you want to go and support Ashley, Glenna, and Teresa, and the rest of Team Swift Kick in the Grass at Olcott Field, they would love cheerleaders! They only have two games left in the regular season (schedule available here) so go out and cheer them on into the playoffs!

Go to a game, you know you want to.

Go to a game, you know you want to.

Signing Off for Summer

by Edo and Teresa

As another academic year comes to a close, we’re wrapping up the blog for the summer break. We wanted to take a moment, though, to thank you (dear readers) for reading and supporting the blog by giving us your thoughts, ideas, and sharing your stories with us. Notably, as we wrap up for summer, we are also bringing the third year of the blog to a close. In that time, the blog has hosted six writers. We’ve all contributed different styles and flavors that have now mixed to become something representative of the department in and of itself.

We’ve tried new ways to present Telecom graduate life this year. We took the silly road and the visual road. If you have any suggestions for new things to experiment with here, feel free to tell us.

Finally, we’re proud to announce the winners of our first photo contest!

The winning photo for the category “Life in the Department” was submitted by Garrett Poortinga.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga

For the category “Life in Bloomington,” we had not a two-way, but a THREE-way tie! The winning photos were submitted by Garrett Poortinga, Ashley Kraus, and Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Ashley Kraus.

Photo submitted by Ashley Kraus.

Photo submitted by Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Nic Matthews.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga.

Photo submitted by Garrett J. Poortinga.

Congratulations to the winners and thanks again to all who submitted, you all made the blog better this semester! Starting next week, we’ll have an interactive collection of all the photos submitted this semester hosted here for you to click through.

From both of us here on the grad blog, have a great summer!

Ashley Discovers Her Inner Chompie

by Teresa Lynch

When you’ve spent the last five years living in Bloomington, sometimes you just need to get out.  That’s exactly how Ashley Kraus felt this past spring as she solidified her plans to spend the summer living and working in Washington, D.C.  A native of the Chicago area, Ashley wanted – or maybe needed – to be outside of the Midwest for a bit.  She wanted the experience of living in an urban area, complete with all of the hustle-bustle of metro travel and the downtown scene.

She won an internship spot at Discovery Education, part of a company best known for its Discovery and Animal Planet channels, through a competitive program that gave her occasion to actualize her plans.  The internship provided her with experience outside of academia that helped to round out her skill set and prepare her for her next step after her master’s.

Ashley’s kickball team getting ready to play. Photo courtesy of Ashley Kraus.

Ashley was assigned to the Implementation Team in the Corporate Partnerships Division; a section of the company that is media affiliated, but does not house the television channels.  For the majority of the summer,  Ashley worked on collecting data on the quality of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs, which the Implementation Team needed for developing contests, competitions, and sweepstakes sponsored by Siemens Foundation for K-12 students.

But, Ashley’s time in D.C. was far from all work and no play.  In fact, there was quite a bit of play.  She joined up with “Ball So Hard, That Pitch Cray,” a team in the local kickball league that played on the grounds of the Washington Monument.  She ended her season with an RBI (er…RKI?), though she admits she “just stood wherever the ball wasn’t going to go.”  She also had the opportunity to be Chompie, Jr., the official in-house mascot for Discovery’s infamous Shark Week. She thereby spent her last few days at Discovery Education wandering the building in a full-body, plush shark suit.  Many visitors to the building stopped for photo ops with her, but she wished that the Chompie, Jr. fans would have remembered one thing “… seriously, furry exterior, human interior. Don’t squeeze me so hard!”

Ashley as Chompie, Jr. Photos courtesy of Ashley Kraus.

The highlight of her summer – a trip to the Condé Nast building in New York City – came in an unexpected way.  After the Multivisions last year, Ashley connected with a Telecom alum now working with Glamour magazine in NYC.  The contact helped Ashley get an informational interview with the Executive Editor at Glamour, the woman in charge of all the body image and health content for Glamour magazine.  Considering Ashley’s research interests (body image, fashion depictions, and beauty in the media) the opportunity was a match made in heaven.  In addition to making a contact within the fashion industry, she also got a private tour of Glamour’s facilities and its fashion closet.

Of course she did do some siteseeing while in the nation’s capital, visiting the White House, the museums, and the monuments.  But, it was the living experience, riding the metro with all of its difficulties, meeting new friends, working and playing hard, that Ashley wanted most.  It’s safe to say she got what she wanted.