Showing posts from November, 2018

Too dark skinned to win Strictly: Alexandra Burke, race hate and why love still matters

In 2017, I was approached by a fashion editor on a UK broadsheet for comments on why Alexandra Burke was consistently voted against by the great British public watching Strictly Come Dancing. I did not watch Strictly at the time and told her that I could not help her. Being persistent, the journalist shared with me a Guardian newspaper report on research that showed that Alexandra was voted against every week even though the judges gave her great points and comments on her skills as a dancer. Responding to the journalist again in the light of this research, I said that Alexandra was too dark-skinned to win Strictly because ballroom dancing is still seen as a white dance form by the public. This meant that only bodies racialized as white or that were ‘mixed-race’, light skinned and normatively feminine (which accounts for Alesha Dixon’s triumph) could ever win Strictly. This was reported in the broadsheet as Alexandra Burke is "too black to win Strictly" though the rest of th…

Researching beauty in meat space – my brush with the beauty vloggers

My PhD research centred on beauty vloggers, namely, young women who regularly produce beauty content on YouTube for a living – it’s their jobs. In my work I demonstrate how although the beauty vlogger appears solo in front of a camera, they rarely work alone. The UK (and many other countries) has a sizable beauty vlogging industry, which (in addition to YouTube and brands) also features a proliferating number of intermediaries, managers and ‘industry experts’. A significant element of the beauty vlogging ecology is the ‘networking event’. These events are highly feminised and ostensibly centred on leisure: they often featuring a ‘tea party’ or ‘cocktail’ theme, but are branded through post-feminist logics of girl-boss empowerment. In highly decorated rooms, often around a high-end centrepiece cake, stakeholders give lectures, and successful vloggers and influencers speak on panels. Beauty and lifestyle brands horseshoe around the peripheries of event locations, giving out products tha…