This volume approaches questions about gender and the politics of appearance from a new perspective by developing the notion of aesthetic labour. Bringing together feminist writing regarding the ‘beauty myth’ with recent scholarship about new forms of work, the book suggests that in this moment of ubiquitous photography, social media, and 360 degree surveillance, women are increasingly required to be 'aesthetic entrepreneurs’, maintaining a constant state of vigilance about their appearance. The collection shows that this work is not just on the surface of bodies, but requires a transformation of subjectivity itself, characterised by notions of personal choice, risk-taking, self-management, and individual responsibility. The book includes analyses of online media, beauty service work, female genital cosmetic surgery, academic fashion, self-help literature and the seduction community, from a range of countries.
Discussing beauty politics, postfeminism, neoliberalism, labour and subjectivity, the book will be of interest to scholars and students with an interest in Gender, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Social Psychology and Management Studies.
“This highly engaging, smart, and wide-ranging collection analyzes how, under the self-governing mandates of neoliberalism, the demands that girls and women regulate and control their bodies and appearance have escalated to new, unforgiving levels. A special strength of the book is its emphasis on the rise of ‘aesthetic labour’ as a global, transnational and ever-colonizing phenomenon that seeks to sweep up women of all races, ages and locales into its disciplinary grip. Highly recommended.”
-Susan J Douglas, University of Michigan, USA
the inherited responsibility that remains women’s particular burden to manage.”
-Melissa Gregg, Intel Corporation, USA
“This book incisively conceptualizes how neo-liberalist and postfeminist tendencies are ramping up pressures for glamour, aesthetic, fashion, and body work in the general public. In a moment when YouTube ‘makeup how to’ videos receive millions of hits; what to wear and how to wear it blogs clock massive followings; and staying ‘on brand’ is sold to us as the key to personal and financial success, ‘aesthetic entrepreneurship’ is bound to become a go-to concept for anyone seeking to understand the profound shifts shaping labor and life in the 21st century.”
-Elizabeth Wissinger, City University of New York, USA
About the Author
Ana Sofia Elias is a doctoral student at King’s College London, UK. Her work focuses on young femininities, neoliberalism and postfeminism from a transnational perspective.
Rosalind Gill is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at City University, UK. Her research interests include the body, labour and intimacy.
Christina Scharff is Senior Lecturer in Culture, Media and Creative Industries at King’s College London, UK, with research interests in gender, media and culture, focusing in particular on entrepreneurial subjectivities.
Table of Contents
Preface; Susie Orbach.- Part I:Aesthetic Labouring.- 1. Seriously girly fun!: Recontextualising Aesthetic Labour as Fun and Play in Cosmetics Advertising; Michelle Lazar.- 2. Rethinking Ruskin’s Wife’s Vulva; Virginia Braun.- 3. Mapping ‘Gross’ Bodies: The Regulatory Politics of Disgust; Breanne Fahs.- 4. The Escalating Price of Motherhood: Aesthetic Labour in Popular Representations of ‘Stay-at-Home’ Mothers; Sara De Benedictis and Shani Orgad.- 5. Holistic Labour: Gender, Body and the Beauty and Wellness Industry in China.- Jie Yang.- 6. The Entrepreneurial Practices of Becoming a Doll; Adrienne Evans and Sarah Riley.- 7. PhD Barbie Gets a Makeover! Aesthetic Labour in Academia; Scarlett Brown.- Part II: Risk, Work and (Post)Feminist Beauty.- 8. The Risky Business of Postfeminist Beauty; Simidele Dosekun.- 9. Dream Jobs? The Glamorisation of Beauty Service Work in Media Culture; Laurie Ouellette.- 10. Skin: Post-feminist Bleaching Culture and the Political Vulnerability of Blackness.- Shirley Anne Tate.- 11. ‘Being a Better #Freelancer’: Gendered and Racialised Aesthetic Labour on Online Freelance Marketplaces; Monika Sengul-Jones.- 12. Seriously Stylish: Academic Femininities and the Politics of Feminism and Fashion in Academia; Ngaire Donaghue.- 13. How to Do Feminist Mothering in Urban India? Some Reflections on the Politics of Beauty and Body Shapes.- Shilpa Phadke.- Part III: Empowerment, Confidence and Subjectivity.- 14. ‘I’m Beautiful the Way I Am’: Empowerment, Beauty, and Aesthetic Labour; Sarah Banet-Weiser.- 15. ‘Just be Confident Girls!’: Confidence Chic as Neoliberal Governmentality; Laura García-Favaro.-16. ‘The Bottom Line is that the Problem is You’: Aesthetic Labour, Postfeminism and Subjectivity in Russian Self-Help Literature; Maria Adamson and Suvi Salmenniemi.- 17. Look Good, Feel Good: Sexiness and Sexual Pleasure in Neoliberalism; Rachel Wood.- 18. The Aesthetics of Sexual Discontent: Notes from the London ‘Seduction Community’; Rachel O’Neill.- 19. Invisible Labour? Tensions and Ambiguities of Modifying the ‘Private’ Body: The Case of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery; Amy Shields Dobson, Karalyn McDonald, Maggie Kirkman, Kay Souter, and Jane Fisher.- 20. Beautiful Israeli Girls: Between Being in the Present and Future Unpredictability; Dana Kaplan.