Choosing to conform: The discursive complexities of choice in relation to feminine beauty practices

Avelie Stuart*, Ngaire Donaghue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


There exists the idea that western societies are now postfeminist, implying that remaining differences between men and women should be understood as a result of the free exercise of individual choice. Yet this postfeminist promise of liberation is overwhelmingly packaged within the crushingly cruel beauty images that western women are judged against and incited to emulate. Theorizing female agency in light of choice and liberation discourses has been the topic of much recent feminist literature, to which this article seeks to contribute. We utilized a feminist post-structuralist framework to examine how young Australian women position themselves as freely choosing and able to throw off oppression. We discuss these findings in relation to the conception of the neoliberal feminine subject; described as someone who playfully expresses herself by freely choosing her level of participation in socially promoted beauty practices; in turn resulting in a resistance to being seen as inflexible, or critical of wider social influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-121
Number of pages24
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Beauty
  • Choice
  • Empowerment
  • Femininity
  • Neoliberal subject
  • Postfeminism


Dive into the research topics of 'Choosing to conform: The discursive complexities of choice in relation to feminine beauty practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this