Dress and Social Media

YT search fatshion#fatshion: Stigma Resistance and Fashion Opinion Leadership Among Plus-Size Vloggers

My dissertation focuses on dress in social media. The growth of social media platforms, such as YouTube, blogs, and Instagram, which allow content creation and participation by anyone who has a computer or cell phone and Internet access, has been heralded as profoundly democratizing media (and society in general) by undermining the traditional gulf between producers and consumers of content (Burgess & Green, 2009; Strangelove, 2010). While this viewpoint may be an overly optimistic assessment of social media, there is no doubt that these media can and do give voice to individuals belonging to otherwise underrepresented groups (Anarbaeva, 2011; Grossman, 2006; Thulin, 2013). For my dissertation, I propose to explore women at the intersection of social media and the size-acceptance movement. Specifically, I am interested in studying plus-size bloggers and vloggers who focus on fashion and beauty.

This qualitative study will consist of two parts. First I will conduct a content analysis of the work of leading plus-size vloggers. Many social media content creators distribute work on more than one platform. Second, I will conduct semi-structured interviews with female plus-size vloggers. I am especially interested in how these women navigate the stigma of being publicly visible as fat women online. How do they conceive of their role in social media? Do they have any political or feminist motivations? What do they get out of being active producers of content on social media? Why does their work tend to focus on dress? How do they interact with people who read/watch them? In addition, consumption plays a very large role in the content produced by these women, as it does in much fashion and beauty vlogging. Thus, I am also curious about their thoughts on the state of fashion for plus-size women in general. Do they see themselves as fashion opinion leaders, introducing styles and brands to their readers/viewers? Have they developed special relationships with apparel retailers or manufacturers? Do they consider themselves to be entrepreneurs?

Anarbaeva, S. (2011). YouTubing difference: Performing identity in online do-it-yourself communities (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 883545724).

Burgess, J., & Green, J. (2009).YouTube: Online video and participatory culture. Malden, MA: Polity Press.

Grossman, L. (2006, December 25). You — yes, you — are Time’s Person of the Year. Time. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1570810,00.html

Strangelove, M. (2010). Watching YouTube: Extraordinary videos by ordinary people. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Thulin, C. (2013). Subverting stereotypes and surpassing disregard: A case study of Asian Americans’ self and group representation on YouTube (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://lup.lub.lu.se/student-papers/record/3458874/file/3516002.pdf