Writing & Research

This chapter, published in Celebrity and Youth: Mediated Audiences, Fame Aspirations, and Identity Formations and edited by Spring-Serenity Duvall, explores what happens when young female celebrity models, like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, must respond to the mainstreaming of feminism in their industry while negotiating the allure of Third World cultures in the branding of their fashion careers. The result: the language of female empowerment and choice gets used to justify cultural appropriation.

This article, published in a special issue of Celebrity Studies on “The New Reality of Reality Celebrity,” follows the rising stardom of transgender teen activist Jazz Jennings and how her self-brand on social media collided with the sensationalized programming of TLC when her family docu-series I Am Jazz premiered in 2015. While I Am Jazz works to mainstream transgender issues through the framework of the nuclear family, its identity as a TLC reality series works to situate its transgender stars in a state of perpetual conflict and spectacle that reaffirms rather disrupts cultural norms.

Published in a special issue of Girlhood Studies on “Locating Tween Girls,” this article examines the identity-making practices that happen in American Girl Stop Motion (AGSM) videos on YouTube when tween girls (7 to 12) grow up and continue playing with their American Girl dolls. Through a content analysis of ten different AGSM YouTube accounts, I discovered how marketplace definitions of tween girls get challenged in aging online fan communities and how older audiences shape what American Girl means to them as they incorporate their experiences and desires into the videos they create.

This article, adapted and published from my master’s thesis, looks at how the celebrity persona of sex educators on YouTube creates a more engaging and interactive experience for audiences in the early 21st century when sex ed in the United States has mostly relied on abstinence-only curriculums and cis-heteronormative practices. Examining two of the most popular sex educators on YouTube, Laci Green (Sex Plus) and Dr. Lindsey Doe (Sexplanations), I uncover how online fame creates a brand of sex education salient to audiences across media platforms that relies on the illusion of face-to-face interaction, the development of an authoritative but approachable identity, and the cultivation of a virtual community.

In this article, published in Transformative Works and Culture, I investigate the delightful spectacle of fandom-themed weddings, focusing particularly on fans of the British sci-fi series Doctor Who. I argue that weddings act as performance narratives where fans must choose and negotiate elements of their identity within the heternormative culture that informs Western wedding practices. While fandom-themed weddings might seem to subvert societal norms, they are actually deeply influenced by these traditional spaces and rituals.