Chapter

Aesthetic Labour

Part of the series Dynamics of Virtual Work pp 3-49

Date:

Aesthetic Labour: Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism

  • Ana EliasAffiliated withDepartment of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College London
  • , Rosalind GillAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, City, University of London
  • , Christina ScharffAffiliated withDepartment of Culture, Media and Creative Industries, King’s College London

Abstract

In 2015 the Australian teenager Essena O’Neill quit Instagram and became headline news around the world. O’Neill, who had more than 600,000 followers on Instagram, earned ‘thousands of dollars’ from marketers for each post, she said, but could no longer tolerate the shameless manipulation of her images and the painful costs of ‘self-promotion’. ‘Resigning’ from the site, she deleted 2000 posts and ‘re-captioned’ the remaining 96 to draw attention to the artifice involved in their production—not just the (notorious) use of filters and ‘retouching’, much discussed in relation to magazine and advertising imagery, but also the poses, the happy and carefree attitude, and the fake intimacy involved. Of one image she wrote: ‘see how relatable my captions were - stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs. I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention’.

Keywords

Beauty Affect Neoliberalism Postfeminism Labour