'The whole playboy mansion image': Girls' fashioning and fashioned selves within a postfeminist culture

S. Jackson, T. Vares, Rosalind Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


This article is located in contemporary feminist interrogations of postfeminism and postfeminist popular culture. Fashion articulates a postfeminist ideology through notions of empowerment via sexuality and consumption, and engages a postfeminist aesthetic of the ‘sexy’, desirable young woman. Recognising the potential complications of these postfeminist constructions and practices for embodied identities of girls within discourses of child innocence, in this article we explore how girls negotiate contemporary postfeminist meanings of femininity marketed to them in fashion. To do so, we examine narratives extracted from a media video diary component of a ‘tween’ popular culture project with 71 pre-teen girls. Using a psycho-discursive approach within a feminist poststructuralist framework, the analyses focus on ways girls engage with and disengage from postfeminist identities constituted through ‘girlie’ and ‘sexy’ clothing. Our findings illuminate the fluidity of girls’ subjectivities as they positioned themselves in some moments within constraining discourses of girlhood femininity (e.g. influenced by media) and at other times as critical ‘savvy’ consumers, rejecting marketing ploys and ‘sexy’ identities. In narratives of clothing practices we found careful, situated negotiation of clothing styles open to sexual meanings and distancing from ‘sexy’ dress through refusals, derogation of other girls and negative affective responses. These practices intersected with class and age and commonly used regulatory and constraining discourses of femininity. We argue that the challenge for feminisms and feminists is to find ways to research and work with/for girls that will open up spaces to explore meanings of femininity that escape limiting, repressive boundaries
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalFeminism & Psychology: an international journal
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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