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The escalating price of motherhood: aesthetic labour in popular representations of ‘stay-at-home’ mothers

De Benedictis, Sara and Orgad, Shani (2017) The escalating price of motherhood: aesthetic labour in popular representations of ‘stay-at-home’ mothers. In: Elias, A.S., Gill, Rosalind and Scharff, C., (eds.) Aesthetic Labour: Rethinking Beauty Politics in Neoliberalism. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK. ISBN 9781137477644

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Identification Number: 10.1057/978-1-137-47765-1


Situated in debates on the visibility of the maternal in contemporary neoliberal culture, this chapter focuses on the construction of the ‘stay-at-home’ mother (SAHM) in popular representations. We look critically at the construction of celebrity Jools Oliver and fictional character Bridget Jones (Fielding, 2013), to show how aesthetic labour has become a central feature demanded of the good SAHM, while it is simultaneously naturalised, marginalised and masked. We argue that the hiding of aesthetic labour functions to support SAHMs’ construction as dependent and domestic carers, rather than active aesthetic and maternal labourers. Thus, we conclude, contemporary representations inscribe the SAHM into the realm of ‘the perfect’ (McRobbie, 2015) through her individualized, autonomous, ‘free’ choosing to exercise aesthetic labour and body self-disciplining, and collude in its masking.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Palgrave Macmillan
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2016 14:17
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2019 23:06

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