Rochford, Catherine, Locke, Abigail and McMahon, Gráinne (2013) Cosmetic surgery in 'girlfriend culture'. In: 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society of Critical Health Psychology (ISCHP), 22nd - 24th July 2013, Bradford, UK. (Unpublished)

Cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly accepted and domesticated within Western cultures. Following the PIP breast implant scandal in the UK in 2011, an independent report drew attention to how little regulation exists within the area; however, its popularity continues to grow. Feminist analysis of media representations of cosmetic surgery within reality television, print advertising and women’s magazines has argued that the adoption of postfeminist rhetorics of choice, and creating authenticity through consumer driven physical transformation has fuelled the domestication of surgery. The research study presented here critically analyses the discourses used to represent cosmetic surgery within celebrity gossip magazines in the UK. These magazines are taken as representative of ‘girlfriend culture’, within which intimate media spaces are created where female sociability becomes key to the girlfriend’s subjective experience, and in which postfeminist rhetorics of entitlement to female sociability and choice are adopted in aid of promoting lifestyle industries. Four magazine titles were selected from the UK press, Closer, New, Star and Now. These magazines are highly circulated and have a mostly young, female readership. Each edition of the four titles was collected over a three month period and articles related to body modification were thematically coded using multimodal discourse analysis. This poster will reflect some of the main discourses emerging from the data which included surgery having ‘gone too far’ and surgery as an accusation. These ideas play into the concept of the girlfriend gaze, wherein self monitoring and monitoring of other women becomes central to constructions of female sociability.

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