Jean Baudrillard’s claim that we inhabit a transaesthetic and integral reality raises significant questions for feminists seeking to analyze how women are represented in Western media through the neoliberal guises of empowerment and choice. These questions relate to the impossibility of differentiating between feminist and antifeminist themes amid the implosive forces of a virtualized significatory and political economy. To map what a feminist-Baudrillardian approach to postfeminist media images might look like, this essay engages with current feminist theorizing about the postfeminist condition via the example of the UK reality makeover program How to Look Good Naked. In my analysis of this series, Baudrillard’s radical approach to the world “as is” illuminates some of the challenges an economy of exclusive positivity raises for the task of critical feminist inquiry.
Baudrillard, Postfeminism, and the Image Makeover
Kim Toffoletti is a senior lecturer in sociology and gender studies, Deakin University, Australia. She is the author of Cyborgs and Barbie Dolls: Feminism, Popular Culture, and the Posthuman Body (2007) and Baudrillard Reframed (2011), which examines Jean Baudrillard’s contributions to the study of visual culture.