This research aims to answer the following research question: “What is the role of gender stereotyping in influencer content on Instagram in identity construction of Dutch female influencers?” To answer this research question, three sub-questions were compiled. The research question will be answered by means of digital ethnography. This research has a qualitative approach and will be carried out through participant observation and in-depth interviewing. The sample of the analysis exists out of an influencer marketing platform called Influentials, and influencers on Instagram, which was collected through purposive sampling. The participant observation was first done by observing Influentials from a company’s perspective for two weeks, and the weeks after that, influencers connected to Influentials were observed on Instagram. Ultimately, five of these influencers were interviewed. The analysis of the data was done by means of a grounded theory approach and a thematic analysis. The thematic analysis resulted in multiple relevant findings. The first finding is about female influencers’ engagement with their followers on Instagram. The analysis pointed out that female influencers post remunerative, informational, relational, and entertaining content and their followers’ behavior can be classified under the SMEB constructs: positive contribution and consumption (Dolan et al., 2016). The most important theme in female influencer content is personal content, this refers to the female influencers’ posting content regarding their personal life, such as posts about their mental health, personal stories in their captions, and real and honest content. A relevant pattern that resulted from the analysis of the interviews, is sexualization of women. This pattern represents women who post sexually oriented content and is also a new finding of this research. According to the participants, this perpetuates the female stereotype. The groups of gender roles: physical characteristics and role behaviors by Eisend (2010) play an important role in this theme. The most important finding of this research is that gender stereotyping has a big and negative impact on females’ self-image. A reason (as well as a new finding to the research field) for this is Instagram’s algorithm, which makes female influencers anticipate it and therefore evoke to post (more or different content) on Instagram due to the algorithm. Another reason that contributes to a negative self-image is content that is sexually oriented or too perfect, as female influencers have disclosed that they compare their own life and body with other influencers’ content. The role of female stereotypes in influencer content is found to be negative in identity construction of Dutch female influencers. Sexually oriented content, unrealistic content, and Instagram’s algorithm are the factors that damage Dutch female influencers’ self-image. When individuals’ self-image differs from their ideal self, we speak of incongruence (McLeod, 2014). Incongruence results in a negative self-concept, which is harmful to personality development and identity construction. This indicates that an individual’s personality development or identity construction is affected by gender stereotyping in influencer content.

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Dr. Christian Simon Ritter
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Mylène Sophia Kuijpers. (2022, June 27). The Role of Gender Stereotyping in Influencer Content on Instagram in Identity Construction of Dutch Female Influencers. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from