In light of calls to study digital composition outside of school-based domains (e.g. Yancey), this project specifically explores a counterpublic in the YouTube beauty community that has arisen in response to the encroachment of and attempts to institutionalize the space. Utilizing iconographic tracking and rhetorical analysis, this study illuminates a network of discourse geared toward a more responsible and educated consumption of makeup and participation within the beauty community. This study found that within the beauty community, a counterpublic has formed in response to a more commodified, product-centered public sphere that has dominated the space and is most associated with well-known YouTube channels. As a result, many in the "community" exhibit dialogue that hints at a fracturing between an "us" and "them" mentality and find difficulty identifying with the current state of the space. In response, the discourse of the counterpublic—which promotes utilizing products you already own, focusing on more creative and original content, and influencers being true to their identities—is shared and circulated through tags like "The Beauty Community Tag" or "The Truthful YouTuber Tag." This research space is of particular interest for the writing and rhetoric field because many young adults seek to enter this space as a career or creative outlet. As a result, it is crucial that we, as teachers and scholars, understand the rhetoric present within the community and the implications it has for composition practices and real-world bodies. This study illuminates one current discourse network aimed at an anti-consumerist participation in the community.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Writing and Rhetoric
English; Rhetoric and Composition
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Street, Rachel, "'Let Me Lock It Up': A Rhetorical Exploration of Identity and an Emergent Counterpublic Within the YouTube Beauty Community" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6580.