The Girlfriend Gaze

Winch, Alison. 2012. The Girlfriend Gaze. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture(52), pp. 21-32. ISSN 1362-6620 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In the hyper-visible landscape of popular culture, the feminine ideal is the girl and the girled body is an asset. Freed from the marriage market, it is sold as essential to the self as brand. The labour invested in the body is glossed as 'me-time' and a normative body image is a signifier of success. I discuss how women's sociality is harnessed as a market, and as a means to normalise the adolescent body. Girlfriendship places women's friendship at the core of feminine identities. The male gaze is rendered benign and men are cast as an accessory in proving a girl's worth to the most important people in her life – a circle of friends. Girlfriendships are exploited for the mutual governance of this feminine ideal as women prove their worth for the approbation of other women. Through doing so, they are complicit in perpetuating discourses of misogyny.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Body Image; Branding; Feminism; Friendship; Markets; The Gaze

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


6 November 2012Published

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Date Deposited:

23 Sep 2022 13:43

Last Modified:

23 Sep 2022 13:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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