YouTube's Vlog Authenticity in the Performance of Femininity

The Effect of YouTube's Authenticity Over the Performance of Femininity

Gender theorist Judith Butler argues that both gender and identity are performed and that these are things we do rather than something we are (Buckingham). Taking this approach, we can also understand femininity as a type of performance. This becomes explicit on YouTube with the instructive nature of beauty videos, which teach viewers how to apply (and perform) femininity in the form of makeup. Because of the authentic style of YouTube that departs from traditional media formats, YouTube becomes what Buckingham refers to as technology allowing the youth to be liberated and to create a more open and creative generation. It gives people a space to experiment with their identities and embrace their authentic selves. Jeffree Star, a top YouTube beauty guru, regularly teaches viewers how to apply makeup without assigning femininity to a specific gender. Because of his videos’ authenticity, there is no shame in the exposure of performance; he is the one creating his world, and the vlog authenticity makes it feel natural. Makeup tutorials then expose femininity as performance of everyday life aesthetics (Fischer) similar to the act of painting a canvas. Therefore, creators are able to detach it from biological sex or gender and perform it however they want. In this way, viewers are able to see femininity differently than in real life, as makeup tutorials teach them that femininity is an art form that anyone can perform despite their gender or sex. Now that we are beginning to have a better understanding of vlog authenticity and the performance of a fluid femininity as art and everyday entertainment, I look forward to developing these theories and unpacking YouTube videos in the future to further investigate the new media and its power.

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