Mediated Girlhoods

New Explorations of Girls' Media Culture, Volume 2

by Morgan Genevieve Blue (Volume editor) Mary Celeste Kearney (Volume editor)
©2018 Textbook X, 246 Pages
Series: Mediated Youth, Volume 26


Mediated Girlhoods, Volume 2 is an anthology devoted to scholarship on girls’ media culture. Taking a cultural studies approach, it includes studies of girls’ media representations, girls’ media consumption, and girls’ media production. In an attempt to push research on girls’ media culture in new directions, it responds to criticisms of previous research in this field by including studies of girls who are not white, middle-class, heterosexual, cisgender, or Western. Approaching girlhood, media, and methodology broadly, Mediated Girlhoods includes studies of such previously unexplored topics as girls’ mimetic communication via Tumblr, the girlyboy in independent Filipino cinema, Qatari girls’ film production, trans girlhood in advertising, Canadian girls’ feminist activism, and the new girl subject imagined in Disney’s Cinderella (2015).
Mediated Girlhoods, Volume 2 is appropriate for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, particularly graduate seminars exploring girlhood, media, and culture; youth media; youth cultures; and gender and media; and undergraduate courses housed within the following departments: media studies, communication studies, cultural studies, women’s and gender studies, sociology, literature, history, education, and psychology.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction (Morgan Genevieve Blue / Mary Celeste Kearney)
  • Part 1: Representation and Identity
  • Chapter One: Girlyboys on Film: Queering the Frame(s) (Curran Nault)
  • Chapter Two: “Just Having Fun Being One of the Girls”: Jazz Jennings, Trans Girl Citizenship, and Clean & Clear’s “See the Real Me” Campaign (Rachel Reinke)
  • Chapter Three: Girls Worth Looking At: Surveillance, Race, and Class in Contemporary Teen Girl TV (Cara Dickason)
  • Chapter Four: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and Something Blue: The Make-Do Girl of Cinderella (2015) (Katie Kapurch / Jon Marc Smith)
  • Part 2: Reception, Community, Activism
  • Chapter Five: “Suitable for Us Girls”: Subjectivity and Community in the Victorian Periodical Press (Kristine Moruzi / Natalie Coulter)
  • Chapter Six: Exhibiting Emotion: The Female Fan Performance of Affective Agency in the Tween “Midnight” Premiere Screening (Margaret Rossman)
  • Chapter Seven: Fangirling and Mimetic Language: The Power of Feels, Reclaiming Emotion, and Fangirl Performativity on Tumblr (Helena Louise Dare-Edwards)
  • Chapter Eight: Girlfriends Go Green: Disney Channel, Corporate Responsibility, and Girls’ Citizenship (Morgan Genevieve Blue)
  • Chapter Nine: Crop Tops and Solidarity Selfies: The Disruptive Politics of Girls’ Hashtag Feminism (Jessalynn Keller)
  • Part 3: Production and Authority
  • Chapter Ten: Gender Identity, Cultural Authority, and Musicianship Among Tween Girls (Sarah Dougher / Diane Pecknold)
  • Chapter Eleven: Mediating the Majlis: Arab Girls’ Documentaries About “Women’s Gatherings” in Qatar (Kirsten Pike)
  • Chapter Twelve: Melting the Celluloid Ceiling: Training Girl Filmmakers, Revolutionizing Media Culture (Mary Celeste Kearney / Twenty Female Film Students)
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

← vi | vii →



1.1:Ludo as Snow White in Ma Vie En Rose (Sony Pictures Classics, 1997).
1.2:Maxi makes eyes at Victor in The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Cinemalaya, 2005).
7.1:Fangirling GIF of Gibby in iCarly episode “iGo One Direction” (Nickelodeon, 7 Apr. 2012), posted on tenor.com, 2 Dec. 2014 (https://media.tenor.co/images/75fd4ff1b5cbbea28f4e9e668b9e55a1/tenor.gif).
7.2:“Feels” GIF referencing the film Spirited Away (Ghibli International, 2001), first posted on reddit.com in 2013 (http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/531/319/99f.gif).
7.3:How comfortably does fangirling crossover into public spaces? Fangirling GIF of Elsa from the 2013 Disney film Frozen (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/96/3a/37/963a37e4de242da4af3a295e01f7fa1b.jpg).
8.1:Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, and Miley Cyrus stride toward the cameras in Disney’s “Friends for Change PSA” (Disney Channel, 2009). ← vii | viii →
8.2:Cyrus conveys Project Green’s message in Lights, Camera, Take Action! (Disney Channel, 28 Aug. 2009).
11.1:An animated scene from Social Solidarity (Dir. Rawda Al-Thani, Alanood Al-Thani, and Al-Johara Al-Thani, 2014).
11.2:Majlis-ha (“Her Majlis”) exhibit, 7 Oct. 2015. Photo by Kirsten Pike.
11.3:A scene from untitled (Dir. Muneera Al-Thani, Reem Al-Kuwari, and Reem Zubaidi, 2014).
11.4:The Majlis’ title and narrator (Dir. Najla Al-Khulaifi, Sama Abduljawad, AlDana Al-Mesnad, and Nayla Al-Thani, 2014).
12.1:Martha M. Lauzen, Historical comparison of percentages of women employed in key behind-the-scenes roles on top 250 films, 2014 Celluloid Ceiling Report (2015).
12.2:Martha M. Lauzen, Historical comparison of percentages of women employed behind the scenes on top 250 films by role, 2014 Celluloid Ceiling Report (2015).
12.3:Female enrollments, Production Program, 2010–2015.

← viii | ix →



From Morgan

My deepest thanks to Mary for inviting me to co-edit this collection. This has been an enjoyable and illuminating experience, and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with you in yet another capacity. Your brilliance, precision, and dedication continue to inspire me. Our conversations about girls’ media culture are always energizing, and they are crucial to my intellectual growth as well as to my general well-being—so we’d better keep them going! I am also ever grateful to Bryan for encouraging me to pursue this work. Thank you for your patience and unwavering support.

From Mary

First and foremost, my heartfelt thanks to Morgan, editorial comrade extraordinaire. Your intellectual acuity is inspirational, your organizational skills amazing, and I’m extremely grateful for all the heavy lifting you did on this collection when other work claimed my attention. I’m fortunate and honored to have been able to talk with you about girls’ media culture for so many years. Thanks for moving to Indiana so that can happen more often in person! Buckets of thank yous also to Michael, whose loving support is demonstrated daily through his unbelievable patience with my workaholic nature as well as well-timed deliveries of crafty cocktails and calls outside to play in the dirt. ← ix | x →

From both of us

We would like to extend our gratitude to several other individuals besides those mentioned above. First, to our awesome contributors, who have challenged our thinking about girls, girlhood, and girls’ media culture in seriously productive ways, and who are boldly paving new pathways for the study of girls’ media culture. Second, to Sharon Mazzarella, for her generous support of our work on this collection as well as our individual research outside of it. We are happy to count her among our cheerleaders. Third, to our editors at Peter Lang: Mary Savigar, who enthusiastically proposed publishing a second volume of Mediated Girlhoods, and Kathryn Harrison, who helped us bring it to you. We are also grateful to the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame, which funded work on the index.

← x | 1 →




Welcome to the second volume of Mediated Girlhoods, a collection of scholarly essays dedicated to critical thinking about girls, girlhood discourse, and girls’ media culture.

Since the first volume of Mediated Girlhoods was published in 2011 (Kearney), the field of girls’ studies has continued to grow. Today, girls’ studies has undergone greater professionalization and comprises scholars and students working from an even wider variety of interdisciplinary and methodological perspectives. The field’s first dedicated academic journal, Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal is set to publish its 10th volume this year and has recently been joined by a second journal, Girls’ Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Undergraduate Research. In 2011, not long after SUNY Cortland hosted an invigorating conference titled Reimagining Girlhood: Communities, Identities, Self-Portrayals, girls’ studies scholars announced the formation of the International Girls’ Studies Association (IGSA). The IGSA administers a new Girls’ Studies listserv, which supplements the Girls’ Studies Scholars Yahoo discussion group founded in 2002 by Ilana Nash. In April 2016, the IGSA held its inaugural conference in England at the University of East Anglia, which brought together girlhood studies researchers and students from across the world. At the same time, Columbia University hosted Black Girl Movement Conference, a gathering that centered Black girls’ achievements and addressed the disadvantages Black girls face in the United States. That conference also featured a photographic exhibit on Black girlhood and media focused sessions, ← 1 | 2 → including youth-led interactive workshops on how to use media and performance for social change, self-care, and creative expression. The recent development of these conferences demonstrates the continued need for forums attending to girls and girlhood from multiple perspectives, both within and beyond academe.

In addition to the research circulating via girlhood studies journals and conferences, since 2011 many scholars have published monographs in the subspecialty of critical girls’ media studies, including Rebecca Hains’ Growing up with Girl Power, Bettina Love’s Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak, Deborah Shamoon’s Passionate Friendship, Natalie Coulter’s Tweening the Girl, Nancy Jennings’ Tween Girls and Their Mediated Friends, Sarah Projansky’s Spectacular Girls, Shayla Thiel-Stern’s From the Dance Hall to Facebook, Amy Hasinoff’s Sexting Panic, Amy Shields Dobson’s Postfeminist Digital Cultures, Katie Kapurch’s Victorian Melodrama in the Twenty-First Century, Jessalynn Keller’s Girls’ Feminist Blogging in a Postfeminist Age, Fiona MacDonald’s Childhood and Tween Girl Culture, Whitney Monaghan’s Queer Girls, Temporality and Screen Media, Kristine Moruzi’s Constructing Girlhood through the Periodical Press, 1850–1915, Michele Paule’s Girlhood, Schools, and Media, and Morgan Genevieve Blue’s Girlhood on Disney Channel. In addition, several anthologies have been published recently, including those edited by Kate Harper, Yasmina Katsulis, Vera Lopez, and Georganne Scheiner Gillis, Girls Sexualities and the Media; Michelle S. Bae and Olga Ivashkevich, Girls, Cultural Productions, and Resistance; Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, Fan Girls and the Media; Jacqueline Warwick and Allison Adrian, Voicing Girlhood. Just like the numerous journal articles and book chapters on girls’ media culture published since 2011, these monographs and collections expand critical thought regarding girls’ media cultures and provide source material for a growing number of girls’ media studies courses at colleges and universities across several nations. Together these advancements—the formation of an international professional organization, the continued organization of academic conferences, the ongoing publication of rigorous scholarship, and the teaching of more girls’ media studies courses—attest to the growth and coalescing of the field as well as to the persistence of work regarding girls’ media culture.


Mediated Girlhoods, Volume 2 retains the first volume’s commitment to raising public awareness and critical thinking about girls, girlhood, and girls’ media culture. This volume features groundbreaking essays that advance new understandings of youth and femininity and new methodological approaches to the study of girls’ media culture. These essays expand upon previous scholarship and reflect the rapidly shifting contexts in which girls’ media studies research is being conducted. ← 2 | 3 →

In her keynote address at the inaugural IGSA conference, Catherine Driscoll, author of the foundational text Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory, called for more nuanced and measured understandings of the oftcited concepts of postfeminism and neoliberalism in theorizations of contemporary girlhood and girls’ cultures. The frequent and uncritical deployment of those concepts has blurred their meanings, rendering unclear any arguments that use them without critique. This volume purposefully aims to help address the need for critical interrogation of these concepts. Integral to calling out, parsing, and deconstructing postfeminist and neoliberal discourses is the need for continued attention to intersectionality both in theory and practice. Studies of girls and girlhood discourses necessarily engage with concepts of age and gender, but these identifiers must be understood also in relation to race, ethnicity, ability, socio-economic class status, religion, sexuality, and nationality whenever possible. Each chapter in this collection incorporates intersectional awareness and critique. This includes critiquing the privileged positions afforded to whiteness, heteronormativity, middle- and upper-class status, and cisgendered bodies and identities.

Attending to the specificities of the neoliberalism and postfeminism, chapters in this collection by Cara Dickason, Rachel Reinke, Margaret Rossman, Helena Dare-Edwards, Jessalynn Keller, and Morgan Genevieve Blue pay close attention to the sociopolitical aspects of girls’ culture made more visible in the first decades of the twenty-first century, including girls’ affective labor, surveillance, and resistance to individualism and exclusionary politics. Rather than casually adopting and applying the terms in question, Katie Kapurch and Jon Marc Smith also challenge their usefulness by intervening with their own conceptualization of contemporary girlhood. Adding to the project of problematizing neoliberalism as a critical framework for girls’ media scholars, Natalie Coulter and Kristine Moruzi enrich the field with a historical analysis of Victorian-era girls’ media culture, primarily focusing on nineteenth-century girls’ magazine contributions.

In addition to the scholarship mentioned above, which moves beyond simply labeling media and fan practices as “postfeminist” or not, three chapters in this volume strive to foreground girls’ voices via collaborative research, while two others forge new theoretical and conceptual pathways. Chapters by Kirsten Pike, Sarah Dougher and Diane Pecknold, and Mary Celeste Kearney each employ collaborative ethnographic methodologies by conducting research with students and media-makers. These intergenerational studies rely on girls’ participation and commentary to provide a clear vision of girls’ experiences in media production programs and in patriarchal societies that limit their access to resources and opportunities. In addition to the excellent research collected in this volume on traditional media forms, such as film and television, Sarah Dougher and Diane Pecknold bring girls’ musicianship to the fore in their study of girls at girls’ rock camps; Jessalynn Keller focuses on girls’ feminist activism via Twitter; and Helena ← 3 | 4 → Dare-Edwards turns our attention to girls’ uses of Tumblr. Pike’s chapter as well as Curran Nault’s help to shift the field of girls’ media studies beyond its traditional Anglo-American focus via attention to media cultures in Qatar and the Philippines, respectively. Finally, chapters by Nault and Rachel Reinke demand that we question the boundaries of both girlhood and the field of girls’ studies. Through their respective attention to the girlyboy and the trans girl, these scholars complicate the gender binary, resist normative constructions of girlhood as a female property, and expand the field of girls’ studies in new directions. While we begin this collection with these two chapters because of their pathbreaking work, each author whose work is included here contributes to girls’ media studies in new and important ways.


This volume is organized similarly to its predecessor, in three sections aimed at facilitating critical attention to three main aspects of media culture: representation, reception, and production. Although each of these aspects of media culture often demands its own distinct research methods, which produce particular forms of theoretical and/or practical intervention, they remain porous and interconnected categories. For instance, identity and subjectivity are discussed throughout the volume, although they are the primary topics of chapters in Part 1—Representation and Identity, which focus on mediated portrayals of girlhood. Girls’ reception practices are the focus of Part 2—Reception, Community, Activism, yet such practices also frequently produce media, as well as generating community and political action. Mediated Girlhoods, Volume 1 devoted its third section to studying girls’ media production in relation to technology. Part 3 of this new volume, Production and Authority, features scholarship that explores how girls express agency and authority through media production. In addition, Part 3 incorporates concerns about girls’ media education and discusses the benefits of collaborative research and media-making between scholars and girls.

Part 1—Representation and Identity—is devoted to analyzing depictions of girlhood in commercial and independent media. Each of the chapters in this section examines media texts whose characters and subjects move beyond the normative identities privileged in mainstream media. Instead these chapters pay special attention to difference in order to explore and expand accepted notions about girlhood. These close readings of queer independent films, teen television, advertising, and Disney media examine the intersectional functions of race, ethnicity, age, generation, socio-economic class, sexuality, and gender in relation to girls and girlhood. They complicate accepted understandings of girlhood and thus girls’ media culture in radical and important ways. ← 4 | 5 →

In Chapter 1, Curran Nault analyzes two alternative cinematic tales: Ma Vie en Rose (Alain Berliner, 1999) and The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros (Auraeus Solito, 2005). This chapter reveals how the girlyboy complicates the traditional assumption that each person is either a boy or a girl. Nault argues that these independent films present non-normative girlyboys never fully quelled by heteronormativity. Instead, they conjure fantastic, provisional spaces in which the girlyboy productively reframes traditional capitulations of boys, girls and the nuclear family. Importantly, Nault’s focus on the girlyboy also queries the utility of disciplinary distinctions, such as girlhood studies and boyhood studies, which seem to perpetuate a binary sex/gender system. This chapter demands that scholars continue to question the boundaries of our field and push our thinking beyond the untenable binaries of male/female, masculine/feminine, boy/girl.

Complicating normative girlhood in a similar way to the girlyboy, transgender girl Jazz Jennings is the focus of Chapter 2. Rachel Reinke examines Jennings’ significance as a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson’s “See the Real Me” advertising campaign to promote its Clean & Clear skincare line. Jennings is also a highly visible entrepreneur and advocate for transgender youth in the United States. Reinke argues that Jennings’ presence in this advertising campaign demands interrogation, especially in the contexts of consumer citizenship, affective labor, and media economies of visibility for transgender youth. This chapter demonstrates the ambiguous position occupied by transgender girlhood within the contemporary neoliberal mediascape, which reproduces normative, exclusionary ideologies while simultaneously appearing to promote acceptance and community. Like Nault’s, Reinke’s research urges us to rethink girlhood’s relationship with cisgender bodies and thus the subjects at the center of girls’ media culture.

Also focused on girlhood visibility in the context of neoliberalism, Cara Dickason analyzes three popular U.S. teen television dramas: Veronica Mars (UPN/CW, 2004–2007), Gossip Girl (CW, 2007–2012), and Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family, 2010–), which foreground girls’ constant exposure to surveillance. Dickason argues that these series reveal how surveillance assigns values to girls’ bodies based on race and class. All three series reassert a white racial hegemony by narrativizing white girls’ ubiquitous visibility without naming whiteness as such. In doing so, they marginalize non-white and working-class girls’ relationships to their own visibility and obscure the extent to which race and class determines girls’ experiences of surveillance. Dickason thus exposes the politics of surveillance culture for girls in these programs. Ultimately, they reinforce the dominant construction of middle-class white girls as those most worthy of attention and care.


X, 246
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (February)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2018. X, 246 pp., 14 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Morgan Genevieve Blue (Volume editor) Mary Celeste Kearney (Volume editor)

Morgan Genevieve Blue earned her Ph.D. in radio-television-film at the University of Texas at Austin. Her scholarship analyzes representations of girlhood in popular U.S. media. She is author of Girlhood on Disney Channel: Branding, Celebrity, and Femininity (2017), and her work is published in Feminist Media Studies, Film, Fashion and Consumption, Red Feather Journal, and Journal of Children & Media. She also contributed to Voicing Girlhood in Popular Music (2016), edited by Allison Adrian and Jacqueline Warwick. Mary Celeste Kearney is Director of Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame. Her research focuses primarily on gender, youth, and media culture. She is author of Girls Make Media (2006) and Gender and Rock (2017), as well as editor of The Gender and Media Reader (2011) and the first volume of Mediated Girlhoods: New Explorations of Girls’ Media Culture (Peter Lang, 2011). She is currently co-editing The Craft of Criticism: Critical Media Studies in Practice with Michael Kackman, and completing research for her next monograph, From Nancy Drew to Gidget: The First Wave of Teen-Girl Media.


Title: Mediated Girlhoods