The cultural idealization of the thin white woman as the object of heterosexual male attention has long been constructed through the visual culture of advertising. Feminist literature has extensively documented the turbulent negotiation of female identities in relation to the Beauty Myth, discussing the role of lingerie advertising in the historic perpetuation of oppressive and fatphobic body image ideals. In the Italy of 2022, the shells and tools have changed, but not the substance. Like elsewhere in the world, the advertising industry has recently moved to social media platforms such as Instagram, and marketers have learned that to win the favor of contemporary women, they could exhort them to feel good about themselves. Thus, advertising messages designed to shame women into buying products to “correct” their appearance have been replaced by narratives of body love and self-confidence. Positioned at the convergence of neoliberal feminism and the corporatized appropriation of the principles of the Body Positivity movement, this phenomenon is more current and nuanced than ever. This thesis project aims to explore the use of affirmative, body-positive language and feminist sentiments in the Instagram advertising of two popular Italian lingerie labels: Intimissimi and Yamamay. This thesis also considers which female bodies are associated with said messages, thereby investigating how the brands’ policies of gender representation intertwine with intersectional issues of fat, race, and age. The research involves a Multimodal Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of a corpus of 40 exemplary texts from the brands’ official Instagram accounts and websites. The analysis of the data was conducted using a toolset developed by Machin and Mayr (2012) for Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) in combination with the principles of analysis developed by Lazar (2007) for Feminist CDA. Findings suggests that, despite their seemingly inclusive language, the two brands’ Instagram advertising empties feminist ideals of their political charge and excludes fat people from representation. It depicts and encourages a neoliberal feminist subject that can “have it all” and conventionally conforms to Western heterosexual standards of desirability.

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Dr Paris Cameron-Gardos
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Maddalena Filetti. (2022, June 27). Unapologetic Female Bodies: Italian Lingerie Advertising on Instagram and the Faults of the Body Love Spell. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from