Consuming the Body: Food, Selfies and Adverts

A mirror with protein powders in the foreground
Public lectures / seminars

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Monday 31 October 2022

12:00 PM - 01:00 PM


JA139, Jaguar Building, Coventry University

Event details


Dawn Woolley critically examines gender stereotypes in advertising and on social media. Her artwork and monograph, Consuming the Body: Capitalism, Social Media and Commodification (London: Bloomsbury, 2022), explore how commodities and advertising contribute to the idealisation of stereotypical feminine and masculine bodies.

She will present a selection of artworks and discuss the impact of selfies in and as adverts. Drawing on the key findings in her book, she will discuss different types of selfies, including #fitspiration, #thinspiration and #bodypositivity, and how they relate to gender stereotypes and body ideals. She will argue that thinspiration images (photographs of emaciated bodies shared on pro-eating-disorder blogs and websites) suggest an internalisation of the fetishistic gaze, a way of looking at bodies that is common in advertising.

In conclusion, the book identifies some creative methods for depicting bodies that do not reproduce the fetishistic gaze or harmful stereotypes, methods that may be useful for visual culture producers including advertising professionals and selfie-takers.



Dawn Woolley is an artist and research fellow at Leeds Arts University. She completed an MA in Photography (2008) and PhD by project in Fine Art (2017) at the Royal College of Art. Her artwork encompasses photography, video, painting, and performance to draw attention issues of sexualisation, objectification, and idealisation.

Recent solo exhibitions include; “Consumed: Stilled Lives” bildkulture galerie, Stuttgart (2022), Perth Centre for Photography, Australia, (2021) and Ffotogallery, Cardiff (2018); and “Visual Pleasure”, Hippolyte Photography Gallery, Helsinki, (2013), Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania (2012) and Ffotogallery, Cardiff (2011). Recent publications include: “The Quantified Self, The Ideology of Health and Fat”, in The Body Productive, London: Bloomsbury, Forthcoming; “The Dissecting Gaze: Fashioned Bodies on Social Networking Sites”, in Revisiting the Gaze: Feminism, Fashion and the Female Body, (London: Bloomsbury, 2020) and ‘Aberrant consumers: Selfies and fat admiration websites’ Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society, 6(2).