Consuming the Body: Capitalism, social media and commodification

Woolley, Dawn ORCID logoORCID: (2022) Consuming the Body: Capitalism, social media and commodification. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781350225299


Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification examines contemporary consumerism and the commodified construction of ideal gendered bodies, paying particular attention to the new forms of interaction produced by social networking sites. The book describes the behaviours of an ideal neoliberal subject: modes of discipline, forms of pleasure, and opportunities for subversion are identified in an examination of how individuals are addressed and the ways in which they are expected to respond. Key modes of address that compel the consumer to consume are: sadistic commands communicated in adverts, TV programmes and magazine articles; a fetishistic gaze that dissects the body into parts to be improved through commodification; and a hystericized insistent presence that compels the consumer to present their body for critique and appreciation that is exemplified in the selfie. Woolley interprets the visual characteristics of different types of selfies, including #fitspiration, #thinspiration, #fatspiration, and #bodypositivity to understand how they relate to current body ideals. Fat acceptance selfies suggest there is a fourth mode of address, empowering presence, that has the potential to liberate consumers from the ‘trap of visibleness’ produced by the other three modes of address. In conclusion, the book identifies some creative methods for producing selfies that evade commoditisation and discipline.

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