He's so dreamy, she's so beautiful: celebrities, the representation of (pre-)adolescent femininity in M, and self-perception




Campbell, Jennifer Ann Elizabeth

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In this thesis, I critique the representation of pre-adolescent and teen femininity in M and the influence of the teen fan genre on identity development. This discussion revolves around a social semiotic analysis of four texts and two sub-texts, and a social semiotic auto-ethnographic exploration of my experience as a reader of teen fan publications. Among the texts, a feminine identity is represented through eight interlocking semiotic themes: fashion and beauty, celebrity idolization, entertainment, consumerism, heterosexuality/romance, friendship, celebrity as occupation, and affluent lifestyle. My research findings show that the portrayal of femininity in M is a narrow and unrealistic ideal. Conveyed through celebrity worship, femininity is a highly (hetero)sexualized, racialized, thin, able-bodied, affluent, mass-mediated, and (self-)commodified ideal that perpetuates age ambiguity As the discussion of my adolescence shows, the representation of femininity in the teen fan genre can thwart creativity and contribute to a negative self-concept. Finally, teen fan magazines were important in assisting in the creation of a (pre-)adolescent feminine self, but it was only one institution in which my identity formed. My self-concept emerged from social regulation via the interconnected relationship among teen fan magazines, mall and school cultures, and family.



pre-teen and adolescent femininity, celebrity idolization, social semiotics, girl culture, self-perception, identity development, teen fan genre