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Who Do They Think They Are?

Teenage Girls and Their Avatars in Spaces of Social Online Communication


Connie Morrison

Who Do They Think They Are? Teenage Girls and Their Avatars in Spaces of Social Online Communication documents a descriptive case study of teenage girls who created autobiographical avatars for their social online spaces. It explores the complex and often conflicted negotiations behind girlhood identity and representation in a cyber-social world. Comparisons are drawn between autobiographical avatars and the profile pictures that teenage girls use on their social networking sites as they consider the manner in which identity is negotiated, constructed, co-authored, and represented. The contradictions and expectations of online social and popular culture make representations of identity simultaneously limitless and limiting for the girls who create them. Given the nature of the identity-defining and social act of creating an autobiographical avatar, a critical media literacy frame provides a pedagogical opportunity for bringing avatar construction into the secondary English language arts classroom.
This book provides guidance for educators and researchers interested in the social construction of identity in an increasingly visual world, and will be valuable in courses ranging from literacy studies, media education, cultural studies, youth studies, educational research, teacher education, and popular culture to feminist, gender studies, and women’s studies courses.


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6. I Can’t Find a Thing to Wear! The Pressure to Look Cool 145


Chapter Six I Can’t Find a Thing to Wear! The Pressure to Look Cool Dressing for Success wonder how many teachers have gone to a parent-teacher interview night or to curriculum night without first stopping to consider what to wear. When I asked a group of educators in a graduate course I am teaching how many of them had thought about such a choice, each one admitted they had given careful consideration to their clothing for such an evening. Male and female teachers alike admitted to dressing for such occasions with the intent of constructing a desired image. They admitted to pausing in front of the closet in order to decide what image they will portray and how they want to present themselves to parents and caregivers. One male teacher admitted that it was the only time in the school year that he wore a tie, while a woman claimed that it was the only time she wore high-heeled shoes to school. Growing up, I recall a list of semiotic dress codes that were reinforced by my family, my peers and by popular culture: wear bright colors to a wedding, dark to a funeral, no white after Labor Day, and no high heels with short skirts. Somewhere along the way, I learned that at an interview one should dress for the position for which they are applying, and that it is better to be overdressed for an occasion than it is to be underdressed. Even though I do not recall...

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