“Regular People with a Passion for Fashion”: Authenticity, Community, and Other Social Media Myths

Brooke Erin Duffy

Abstract


Fashion blogging represents a distinct culture and practice of social media production that involves the creation and public distribution of style-related images, information, and personal commentary. Mainstream media coverage of fashion blogs situates them within a distinct moment of digital cultural production defined by destabilized, decentralized, and democratized flows of media. However, these narratives are both limited and limiting in that they fail to provide a productive framework to understand the nuanced cultures and political economies of fashion blogging. This research draws upon a textual analysis of the Independent Fashion Bloggers online community to show how fashion blogging is constructed through an interrelated series of “identity myths”: 1). The authenticity myth; 2). The autonomy myth; and 3). The egality myth. These myths, I argue, effectively conceal those social media practices that tend to appropriate—rather than resist—capitalist infrastructures and traditional media industry logics. Far from being authentic, self-directed, and democratic, the emergent organization of fashion blogging is increasingly hierarchical, market-driven, quantifiable, and self-promotional.

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