Advertisement

‘What Else About Her Is Fake?’: ‘Emphasised’ Femininity, Authenticity and Appearance

  • Emily Nicholls
Chapter
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in the Social Sciences book series (GSSS)

Abstract

This chapter charts the ways in which young women’s negotiations of dress in the NTE are shaped by notions of visibility and authenticity and also by class. I explore the ways in which an exaggerated or emphasised mode of femininity is normalised to an extent within the NTE and highlight some of the pleasures and values young women found in their negotiations of femininity through dress, whether wholeheartedly embracing or ‘flashing’ femininity. Tensions and ambivalences are exposed as the participants both adopted and resisted elements of ‘girly’ and ‘tomboy’ identities. I then explore the ways in which forms of classed othering function to construct the feminine self in contrast to those who are perceived to lack the taste and resources to ‘do’ femininity appropriately and instead embody a somehow inauthentic and overdone performance of femininity. I briefly consider the intersections between hyper-feminine and ‘slutty’ dress, and finally explore how attempts by working-class young women to resignify a more excessive look as ‘glamorous’ may be mocked and judged beyond the local context.

References

  1. Allan, A. J. (2009). The importance of being a ‘lady’: Hyper-femininity and heterosexuality in the private, single-sex primary school. Gender and Education, 21(2), pp. 145–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Archer, L., Hollingworth, S and Mendick, H. (2010). Urban youth and schooling: The experiences and identities of educationally ‘at risk’ young people. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bailey, L., Griffin, C. and Shankar, A. (2015). “Not a good look”: Impossible dilemmas for young women negotiating the culture of intoxication in the United Kingdom. Substance Use & Misuse, 50, pp. 747–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bancroft, A., Zimpfer, M. J., Murray, O. and Karels, M. (2014). Working at pleasure in young women’s alcohol consumption: A participatory visual ethnography. Sociological Research Online, 19(3), pp. 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartky, S. L. (2003). Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power. In R. Weitz (Ed.) The politics of women’s bodies: Sexuality, appearance and behaviour (pp. 25–45). 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Baumgardner, J. and Richards, A. (2004). Feminism and femininity: Or how we learned to stop worrying and love the thong. In A. Harris (Ed.) All about the girl: Culture, power, and identity (pp. 59–67). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Black, P. (2002). ‘Ordinary people come through here’: Locating the beauty salon in women’s lives. Feminist Review, 71(1), pp. 2–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, R. (2014). A Girls’ Night Out: Gender, Subjectivity and Pleasure. PhD thesis. University of Sydney.Google Scholar
  9. Buckley, C. and Fawcett, H. (2002). Fashioning the feminine: Representation and women’s fashion from the fin de siecle to the present. London: I. B. Tauris.Google Scholar
  10. Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  11. Corteen, K. (2002). Lesbian safety talk: Problematizing definitions and experiences of violence, sexuality and space. Sexualities, 5(3), pp. 259–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dilley, R., Hockey, J., Robinson, V. and Sherlock, A. (2014). Occasions and non-occasions: Identity, femininity and high-heeled shoes. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 22(2), pp. 143–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duits, L. and van Zoonen, L. (2011). Coming to terms with sexualization. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 14(5), pp. 491–506.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Emslie, C., Hunt, K. and Lyons, A. (2015). Transformation and time-out: The role of alcohol in identity construction among Scottish women in early midlife. International Journal of Drug Policy, 26(5), pp. 437–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evans, A., Riley, S. and Shankar, A. (2010). Technologies of sexiness: Theorizing women’s engagement in the sexualization of culture. Feminism & Psychology, 20(1), pp. 114–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Evans, C. and Thornton, M. (1991). Fashion, representation, femininity. Feminist Review, 38, pp. 48–66.Google Scholar
  17. Francombe, J. (2014). Learning to leisure: femininity and practices of the body. Leisure Studies, 33(6), pp. 580–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gaines, J. (1990). Introduction: Fabricating the female body. In J. Gaines and C. Herzog (Eds.) Fabrications. Costume and the female body (pp. 1–27). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Genz, S. (2015). My job is me: postfeminist celebrity culture and the gendering of authenticity. Feminist Media Studies, 15(4), pp. 545–561.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gill, R. (2007). Critical respect: The difficulties and dilemmas of agency and ‘choice’ for feminism. European Journal of Women’s Studies, 14(1), pp. 69–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gill, R. (2016). Post-postfeminism? New feminist visibilities in postfeminist times. Feminist Media Studies, 16(4), pp. 610–630.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Graefer, A. (2014). ‘Charlotte makes me lafe [sic] sooo much’: Online laughter, affect, and femininity in Geordie Shore. Journal of European Popular Culture, 5(2), pp. 105–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Griffin, C., Szmigin, I., Bengry-Howell, A., Hackley, C. and Mistral, W. (2013). Inhabiting the Contradictions: Hypersexual Femininity and the Culture of Intoxication among Young Women in the UK. Feminism & Psychology, 23(2), pp. 184–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guy, A. and Banim, M. (2000). Personal collections: Women’s clothing use and identity. Journal of Gender Studies, 9(3), pp. 313–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hari, J. (2007). ‘It costs me a lot of money to look this cheap’ [online]. The Evening Standard. Available at https://www.standard.co.uk/showbiz/starinterviews/it-costs-me-a-lot-of-money-to-look-this-cheap-6696737.html.
  26. Haydock, W. (2009). Gender, Class and ‘Binge’ Drinking: An Ethnography of Drinkers in Bournemouth’s Night-Time Economy. PhD thesis. Bournemouth University.Google Scholar
  27. Hayfield, N., Clarke, V., Halliwell, E. and Malson, H. (2013). Visible lesbians and invisible bisexuals: Appearance and visual identities among bisexual women. Women’s Studies International Forum, 40, pp. 172–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hayward, K. and Yar, M. (2006). The ‘chav’ phenomenon: Consumption, media and the construction of a new underclass. Crime, Media, Culture, 2(1), pp. 9–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hockey, J., Dilley, R., Robinson, V. and Sherlock, A. (2013). Worn shoes: Identity, memory and footwear. Sociological Research Online, 18(1), pp. 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Holland, S. (2004). Alternative femininities: Body, age and identity. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
  31. Holland, S. and Harpin, J. (2015). Who is the ‘girly’ girl? Tomboys, hyper-femininity and gender. Journal of Gender Studies, 24(3), pp 293–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hollands, R. and Chatterton, P. (2002). Changing times for an old industrial city: Hard times, hedonism and corporate power in Newcastle’s nightlife. City, 6(3), pp. 291–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Holliday, R. (1999). The comfort of identity. Sexualities, 2(4), pp. 475–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hurd, L. C. (2000). Older women’s body image and embodied experience: An exploration. Journal of Women & Aging, 12(3–4), pp. 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hutton, F. (2006). Risky pleasures? Club cultures and feminine identities. Aldershot: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  36. Huxley, C., Clarke, V. and Halliwell, E. (2014). Resisting and conforming to the ‘lesbian look’: The importance of appearance norms for lesbian and bisexual women. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 24(3), pp. 205–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jantzen, C., Østergaard, P. and Vieira, C. M. S. (2006). Becoming a ‘woman to the backbone’. Journal of Consumer Culture, 6(2), pp. 177–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kovac, L. D. and Trussell, D. E. (2015). ‘Classy and never trashy’: Young women’s experiences of nightclubs and the construction of gender and sexuality. Leisure Sciences, 37, pp. 195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lawler, S. (2005a). Disgusted Subjects: The Making of Middle-Class Identities. The Sociological Review, 53(3), pp. 429–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lawler, S. (2005b). Introduction: Class, culture and identity. Sociology. 39(5), pp. 797–806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lazar, M. M. (2009). Entitled to consume: postfeminist femininity and a culture of post-critique. Discourse & Communication, 3(4), pp. 371–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leve, M., Rubin, L. and Pusic, A. (2011). Cosmetic surgery and neoliberalisms: Managing risk and responsibility. Feminism & Psychology, 22(1), pp. 122–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Levy, A. (2005). Female chauvinist pigs: Women and the rise of raunch culture. London: Pocket Books.Google Scholar
  44. Mackiewicz, A. (2012). ‘New’ Femininities in the Culture of Intoxication: Exploring Young Women’s Participation in the Night-Time Economy, in the Context of Sexualised Culture, Neo-Liberalism and Postfeminism. PhD thesis. University of Bath.Google Scholar
  45. Mason, G. (2001). Body maps: Envisaging homophobia, violence and safety. Social & Legal Studies, 10(1), pp. 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McRobbie, A. (2015). Notes on the perfect. Australian Feminist Studies, 30(83), pp. 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Mendick, H., Allen, K., Harvey, L. and Ahmad, A. (2018). Celebrity, aspiration and contemporary youth: Education and inequality in an era of austerity. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  48. Nayak, A. (2003). Last of the ‘real Geordies’? White masculinities and the subcultural response to deindustrialisation. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 21(1), pp. 7–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Nayak, A. (2006). Displaced masculinities: Chavs, youth and class in the post-industrial city. Sociology, 40(5), pp. 813–831.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Nayak, A. and Kehily, M. J. (2006). Gender undone: Subversion, regulation and embodiment in the work of Judith Butler. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 27(4), pp. 459–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Northcote, J. (2006). Nightclubbing and the search for identity: Making the transition from childhood to adulthood in an urban milieu. Journal of Youth Studies, 9(1), pp. 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Peck, J. and Tickell, A. (2002). Neoliberalizing space. Antipode, 34(3), pp. 380–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pitman, G. E. (1999). Body image, compulsory heterosexuality, and internalized homophobia. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 3(4), pp. 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Reischer, E. and Koo, K. S. (2004). The body beautiful: Symbolism and agency in the social world. Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, pp. 297–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Riley, S. C. E. and Cahill, S. (2005). Managing meaning and belonging: Young women’s negotiation of authenticity in body art. Journal of Youth Studies, 8(3), pp. 261–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ringrose, J. and Walkerdine, V. (2008). Regulating the abject: the TV make-over as site of neo-liberal reinvention toward bourgeois femininity. Feminist Media Studies, 8(3), pp. 227–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Robinson, V. (2015). Reconceptualising the mundane and the extraordinary: A lens through which to explore transformation within women’s everyday footwear practices. Sociology, 49(5), pp. 903–918.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Skeggs, B. (1997). Formations of class and gender: Becoming respectable. London: SAGE.Google Scholar
  59. Skeggs, B. (2001). The toilet paper: Femininity, class and mis-recognition. Women’s Studies International Forum, 24(3–4), pp. 295–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Skeggs, B. and Loveday, V. (2012). Struggles for value: value practices, injustice, judgment, affect and the idea of class. The British Journal of Sociology, 63(3), pp. 472–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Skerski, J. (2011). Tomboy chic: Re-fashioning gender rebellion. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 15(4), pp. 466–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Smelik, A. (2011). The performance of authenticity. Address. Journal for Fashion Writing and Criticism. 1(1), pp. 76–82.Google Scholar
  63. Steele, V. (1997). Editorial. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 1(1), pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  64. Thornton, S. (1995). Club cultures. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  65. Tseëlon, E. (1995). The masque of femininity. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  66. Tyler, I. (2008). “Chav mum chav scum”; Class disgust in contemporary Britain. Feminist Media Studies, 8(1), pp. 17–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Tyler, I. and Bennett, B. (2010). ‘Celebrity chav’: Fame, femininity and social class. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 13(3), pp. 375–393.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ussher, J. M. (1997). Fantasies of femininity: Reframing the boundaries of sex. London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  69. Valentine, G., and Harris, C. (2014). Strivers vs skivers: Class prejudice and the demonisation of dependency in everyday life. Geoforum, 53, pp. 84–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Weitz, R. (2003). Women and their hair: Seeking power through resistance and accommodation. In R. Weitz (Ed.) The politics of women’s bodies: Sexuality, appearance and behaviour (pp. 135–151). 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. West, C. and Zimmerman, D. H. (1987). Doing gender. Gender & Society, 1, pp. 125–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Winlow, S. and Hall, S. (2009). Living for the weekend: Youth identities in Northeast England. Ethnography, 10(1), pp. 91–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Wolf, N. (1991). The beauty myth. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  74. Woods, F. (2014). Classed femininity, performativity, and camp in British structured reality programming. Television & New Media, 15(3), pp. 197–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily Nicholls
    • 1
  1. 1.University of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK

Personalised recommendations