Asians Wear Clothes on the Internet: Race, Gender, and the Work of Personal Style Blogging
Minh-Ha T. Pham is Assistant Professor in the Graduate Media Studies Program at the Pratt Institute. Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, the San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, NPR, Jezebel, and the Huffington Post.
Invisible Labor and Racial Visibilities in Outfit Posts
The work of personal style blogging is significant and varied, but it is also made invisible by the technological and aesthetic conventions of the genre. Series of blog posts showing bloggers in thoughtfully put-together finished outfits in a noncontinuous succession of times and places send a visual and discursive message that personal style blogging is effortless. Chapter 5 discusses how bloggers’ invisibilization of their labors are taste work strategies in and of themselves. By literally taking out of the picture and the blog posts the many levels of physical, consumer, retail, and computational labor that go into personal style blogging, bloggers construct their labor identities to align with those of the highly vaunted creative class. How this strategy both advantages and harms Asian superbloggers is examined in this chapter. In particular, it shows how the invisibilization of labor serves to distinguish Asian superbloggers from earlier Asian fashion workers characterized by physical sweated labor, while simultaneously deskilling the bloggers’ work in ways that mirror the devaluation of garment manufacturing work. By attending to the racial history and politics of digital fashion media labor, chapter 5 reveals the ambivalent structure of the feminization of labor and the historical continuities between old and new formations of the Asian fashion worker.