Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

You better work : negotiating race, sexuality, gender, and neoliberalism in plus-size fashion blogs

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  • Over the past decade, the explosion of social media has secured the Internet as a venue for political discussions of all sorts; as well as a realm of consumption and commodification. One population of women that has utilized social media in this way is the plus-sized fashion ("fatshion") community on the popular multimedia blogging site Tumblr. Through posting personal photos of 'outfits of the day' (OOTDs), participants use Tumblr to address the lack of size representation in the fashion industry as well as to share resources for finding fashionable, plus-sized clothing. This project examines how contributors to fatshion blogs negotiate identities as well as how participation in these blogs both supports and defies a neoliberal economic system that casts participating in fashion as a right, without considering how it contributes to oppression of other groups of women. The project discusses blogs as spaces for combatting the effects of sizeism, for negotiating racist images of women of color in the media, and, to a certain extent, for situating fatness within hegemonic femininity, and it also investigates the extent to which these blogs register or ignore the oppressive effects of the fashion industry in the global South. Some bloggers express an interest in repurposing and thrifting clothing, but their motivations are less explicit. The blogs provide clear answers to some of these questions and initiate only more questions about others, but regardless, the photos and commentary submitted to the blogs provide ample material for discussion. By attempting to answer these questions, it is possible to obtain a clearer picture of the relationship between systems of oppression and online environments, and how online communities might be used to challenge these systems.
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