“There’s nothing makeup cannot do”

Women Beauty Vloggers’ Self-Representations, Transformations, and #thepowerofmakeup

in Screen Bodies
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  • 1 Tulane University mwhite@michelewhite.org
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Abstract

Women beauty vloggers, or video bloggers, produce YouTube self-representations as a means of considering cosmetics, their appearance, and cultural expectations about femininity. These vloggers developed “the power of makeup” videos and related social media texts in order to critique makeup shaming and attempts to limit women’s representations and aesthetic choices. Their incomplete cosmetic applications are connected to and rework reality television makeovers and feminist considerations of beauty. Feminist scholars, including Bordo and Bartky, suggest that makeovers direct women to pursue transformations into better selves and to follow beauty experts’ directions. In contrast to these forms of control, beauty vloggers have more authority over their practices. They use the term “transformation” to describe applications that are not focused on ideal looks or ever-improvable selves, and reform beauty culture around participants’ interests and artistry rather than male heterosexual expectations. These women’s practices of self-definition challenge mainstream conceptions of art, makeup, and femininity.

Contributor Notes

Michele White is a professor of Internet and new media studies in the Department of Communication at Tulane University. She is the author of The Body and the Screen: Theories of Internet Spectatorship (MIT Press, 2006); Buy It Now: Lessons from eBay (Duke University Press, 2012); and Producing Women: The Internet, Traditional Femininity, Queerness, and Creativity (Routledge, 2015). Her current book projects are Touch/Screen/Theory and Producing Masculinity: The Internet and Gender Terms. Her research on beauty culture and feminism includes “How ‘your hands look’ and ‘what they can do’: #ManicureMonday, Twitter, and Useful Media.” Feminist Media Histories 1(2) (2015): 4–36. E-mail: mwhite@michelewhite.org

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

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