Pedagogies of perfection in the postfeminist digital age: Young women’s negotiations of health and fitness on social media

M. J. Camacho-Miñano*, S. Gray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we explore how pedagogies of perfection in fitness content on social media work as a postfeminist technology of the self, exhorting young women to act upon themselves to become ‘perfect’ but hiding the extent to which exercise as aesthetic labour is normatively demanded. We draw on focus group and individual interviews with 37 young women who follow fitness content on Instagram and a discourse analysis of the social media presence of Patry Jordán, a famous Spanish fitness influencer. Through the concept of pedagogies of perfection, we explain how fitspiration is a gendered public pedagogy of digital health through which neoliberalism and postfeminism are disseminated, providing techniques to develop individualized projects of the self. The perfect is the horizon of expectation for continued self-optimization, where young women engage in a never-ending project of the body that also demands the improvement of psychological attitudes. Through the careful articulation of 'positive' pedagogies, the idea of imperfection or failure becomes embedded within the perfect. This production of the self both as a problem and with possibilities represents the horizon of expectation, a powerful force that leads to the belief that all women can achieve ‘successful’ feminine subjectivities while reproducing gender inequality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Gender Studies
Early online date24 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • digital health
  • fitspiration
  • gender
  • Instagram
  • social media

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