I Get Knocked Down, but I Get up Again: Calibration As Gendered Authenticity Work on Women’s Healthy Living Blogs

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:46
Oral Presentation
Alexandra RODNEY, University of Guelph, Canada
Authenticity is considered an important personal trait and feminized cultural spaces offer opportunities to understand how authenticity construction is a gendered process. This study asks how authenticity is produced on women’s healthy living blogs and involves a discourse analysis of 533 blog posts from six prototypical American blogs. Drawing from cultural and feminist theory, I argue that the process of producing authenticity on healthy living blogs is performed through calibration, a gendered form of self-presentation (Cairns and Johnston 2015). This calibration process on healthy living blogs involves ongoing self-positioning away from the dialectical extremes of failure and success in order to portray an authentic, healthy femininity. In order to develop their online persona, healthy living bloggers use coupled rhetorical strategies: confession/redemption and congratulation/self-deprecation. I argue that this authenticity work is shaped by historically-specific socio-cultural conditions relating to femininity, neoliberal ideology, selfhood and class. Key contributions of this paper include: 1) developing an understanding of authenticity as a gendered process; 2) identifying how calibration is used to construct an authentic healthy femininity; 3) extending understanding of how the performance of successful femininity involves the avoidance of extremes; 4) developing empirical understanding of authenticity construction in online spaces.