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#Girlboss feminism and emotional labour in Leigh Stein’s self care

Bolaki, Stella (2024) #Girlboss feminism and emotional labour in Leigh Stein’s self care. Women: A Cultural Review, 34 (4). pp. 271-290. ISSN 0957-4042. E-ISSN 1470-1367. (doi:10.1080/09574042.2023.2278262) (KAR id:103344)

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Leigh Stein’s Self Care: A Novel is a satire of the world of the ‘wellness influencer’ that targets a breed of corporate white feminism pejoratively known as ‘girlboss feminism’. Self Care exposes how digital spaces of girlboss culture mix entrepreneurship and social justice by making the visibility of gender and race an end in itself rather than the means to social change. I argue that this process entails a multi-dimensional affective and emotional labour that resonates with and extends Arlie Russell Hochschild’s influential work in a new digital context. The essay explores how such new forms of digital emotional labour become entangled with the contradictions of self-care, a concept that has radical origins but is co-opted by neoliberal feminism. It also examines the function of Stein’s only Black character in the novel, drawing attention to newly emergent racialised forms of embodied and emotional labour found in female-founded companies that strive for the appearance of diversity. Based on extensive research into real-life start-ups and girlboss work culture, Self Care raises broader questions about how fiction, and especially satire, through its unique combination of critique and entertainment, can expand on and popularise scholarship that addresses the vexed relationship between emotion and work.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/09574042.2023.2278262
Uncontrolled keywords: Leigh Stein, digital spaces and girlboss feminism, wellness influencer, self-careand race, emotional labour and satire
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Stella Bolaki
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2023 08:08 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2024 09:25 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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