A Case Study of Body Image and Aspirational Identity in Girlhood

Open Access
Butler, Allison Jane
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
April 28, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Christine M Thompson, Thesis Advisor
  • Jacqueline J A Reid Walsh, Thesis Advisor
  • body image
  • adolescence
  • tweens
  • pre-teens
  • girlhood
  • clothing
  • clothing styles
This study explores the nature of a western, contemporary, pre-teen girl's identity work through body image. My analysis first introduces the nature of aspiration within tween culture. I then argue that several factors unique to tween-hood provoked the study's participant to increasingly define femininity through bodily manipulation. This transition is accompanied by a gradually decreasing focus on the discourse of girl-childhood to identify herself and negotiate what constitutes an acceptable tween “girl.” Lastly, I demonstrate how these factors culminate in the participant's pursuit of the aspirational “discourse of pretty.”