© 2017

Aesthetic Labour

Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism

  • Ana Sofia Elias
  • Rosalind Gill
  • Christina Scharff

Part of the Dynamics of Virtual Work book series (DVW)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxii
  2. Aesthetic Labouring

  3. Risk, Work and (Post)Feminist Beauty

  4. Empowerment, Confidence and Subjectivity

About this book


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.


work feminism women sexualisation gender men Beauty Politics postfeminism society sociology culture Media Fashion Mothering neoliberalism political science political theory politics

Editors and affiliations

  • Ana Sofia Elias
    • 1
  • Rosalind Gill
    • 2
  • Christina Scharff
    • 3
  1. 1.King’s College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.King’s College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom
  3. 3.City, University of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

About the editors

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. 

Bibliographic information


“This collection offers a fascinating and nuanced discussion of the work that "being pretty" demands under contemporary neoliberalism. Most crucially, the reading is compelling and never gets monotonous. The text is a significant addition to a flood of scholarship on aesthetic labour, and this volume is required reading for anybody, from students to specialists, interested in contemporary body politics, whether from a feminist, beauty or neoliberal perspective.” (Amelie Keyser-Verreault, Anthropologica, Vol. 60 (2), 2018)