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Displaying and negotiating identity through the hair bow: A case study of child celebrity JoJo Siwa and her social media fans

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Abstract

This cultural case study examines the hair bow as a key element of identification and gender performance for child celebrity JoJo Siwa and her fans. Siwa fans are represented as exclusively female and include girls (newborn‐12 years old) and their mothers identifying from the geographical locations of United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The methods of this research include social semiotic discourse analysis complemented by archival research. Between 8 July and 11 October 2017 fan and celebrity interactions were observed on the Siwa official Facebook page and collected. To complement and contextualize these observations, news media reports, and observations of Siwas official YouTube channel and Instagram accounts were collected from 2 January to 13 November 2017. The data were examined with two key sets of interdependent questions in mind: How is the hair bow depicted by Siwa and how do the fans depict the bow? How is the relationship between Siwa and her fans depicted on social media through the bow? The findings suggested three key themes of meaning attached to the hair bow: gender, innocence and empowerment. The findings suggest that the hair bow signals femininity, but that this historically is not limited to a female body. The JoJo Bow Facebook fan community limits femininity as exclusively female. For these fans the JoJo Bow signifies an exclusive mother‐daughter bond. Social meanings attached to the hair bow (including the JoJo Bow) both enable and constrain ways of being for the wearer.
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Keywords: JoJo Siwa; fan communities; fandom; femininity; hair bow; identity; mother‐child fans; social media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 000000041936834X The University of Sydney

Publication date: January 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • Fashion, Style & Popular Culture is a peer-reviewed journal specifically dedicated to the area of fashion scholarship and its interfacings with popular culture. It was established to provide an interdisciplinary environment for fashion academics and practitioners to publish innovative scholarship in all aspects of fashion and popular culture relating to design, textiles, production, promotion, consumption and appearance-related products and services. Articles related to history, manufacturing, aesthetics, sourcing, marketing, branding, merchandising, retailing, technology, psychological/sociological aspects of dress, style, body image, and cultural identities, as well as purchasing, shopping, and the ways and means consumers construct identity as associated to Fashion, Style & Popular Culture are welcomed. The journal offers a broad range of written and visual scholarship and includes works done through various methods of research. We welcome conceptual, theoretical and translational applied research in the areas of fashion, style and popular culture. This journal hopes to stimulate new discussions in the fashion disciplines and to push the envelope of scholarship by welcoming new and established scholars to submit their works.

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