Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Gender and Education 32:3 (2020), pp. 363–381.

doi: 10.1080/09540253.2017.1411890


Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Used by permission.


This article describes a study of selfies posted on Instagram by a group of predominantly white, college women at a large public university in the US South. Selfies are used as data to explore how performances of traditional femininity are legitimated, authorized, and reinscribed through photo-posting practices. The authors argue that these performances circulate a public pedagogy of femininity and contribute to notions of traditional gender roles and physical attractiveness that reinforce classed and raced norms of beauty. The selfies, which idealize the southern lady [McPherson, Tara. 2003. Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South. Durham: Duke University Press], characterize a particularly regionalized type of self-promotion in the visual economy facilitated by Instagram. Drawing on theorizations of postfeminism, the authors describe how the hyperfemininity performed in these selfies can be interpreted within the morass of neoliberal discourses that on one hand encourage women’s adoption of traditional gender practices while at the same time discourage the critique of systems that marginalize women.