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The MakeoverReality Television and Reflexive Audiences$
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Katherine Sender

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740699

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740699.001.0001

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Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, Mirror

The Reflexive Self

(p.136) 6 Mirror, Mirror
The Makeover

Katherine Sender

NYU Press

This chapter explores various themes of reflexivity to consider how people generate makeover shows in an extended conversation about what it means to be a self. Audiences draw on the shows' self-reflexive motifs, narratives, and rituals to cultivate an intimate engagement with the self. Contrary to contemporary scholars of reality television who argue that reality television produces a new mode of rational, self-governing subjectivity, the chapter maintains that the self-reflexivity encouraged in makeover programming invokes a much older, Romantic model that values interiority, authenticity, and expression. Makeover shows are one of several resources that reflexively produces a moral and mediated accomplishment—the contemporary self. What connects this sense of individuality to the makeover shows is the restorative power of confession. As Foucault argues in The History of Sexuality, there is no pre-existing self that expresses itself, the self is produced through the very act of expression.

Keywords:   makeover shows, self-reflexivity, reality television, self-governing subjectivity, contemporary self, expression, Foucault, The History of Sexuality

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