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Social media is replete with images of 'perfection'. But many are unrealistic and contribute to a pervasive sense, for users, of never being good enough. Try too hard and you risk being condemned for being 'attention-seeking'; don't try hard enough and you're slacking.

In this event, Prof Rosalind Gill (Goldsmiths) discusses these dynamics, guided by insights from her new book, Perfect: Feeling Judged on Social Media (Polity, 2023). Gill uses young women's own words to show how they feel watched all the time; worry about getting things wrong; and struggle to live up to an ideal of being 'perfect' yet at the same time 'real'.

Gill’s intervention will be followed by reflections from an esteemed panel of scholars concerned with contemporary digital culture and its impacts. The event will be chaired by Dr Christina Scharff (KCL).


Rosalind Gill is University Professor of Inequalities in Creative and Cultural Industries at Goldsmiths, University of London. Gill has produced groundbreaking work on gender and media; cultural and creative work; and mediated intimacy, and made a significant contribution to debates about the ‘sexualization of culture’. Her many books include Confidence Culture (Duke, 2022); Gender in an Era of Post-truth Populism (Bloomsbury, 2022); Aesthetic Labour (Palgrave, 2017); New Femininities: Postfeminism, Neoliberalism and Subjectivity (Springer, 2011); and Gender and the Media (Polity, 2006).

Sarah Banet-Weiser is the Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and its Lauren Berlant Professor of Communication. She is also a research professor at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and founding director of the Center for Collaborative Communication at the Annenberg Schools. Her significant contributions to understanding the relationship between gender, inequality and the media include Believability: Sexual Violence, Media, and the Politics of Doubt (Polity Press, 2023) and Empowered: Popular Feminism and Popular Misogyny (Duke, 2018)

Simidele Dosekun is Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Programme Director for the MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE & Fudan) and MSc Global Media and Communications (LSE & UCT). Dr Dosekun's research centres African women to explore questions of gender, race, subjectivity, and power in a global context. She is the author of Fashioning Postfeminism: Spectacular Femininity and Transnational Culture, and co-editor of African Luxury: Aesthetics and Politics. Her work has appeared in the journals Feminist Media Studies, Feminism and Psychology, Qualitative Inquiry, and Feminist Africa, among others.

Zeena Feldman is Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture in the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London, where she runs the Quitting Social Media Project. She is also Director of the Queer@King’s Research Centre. Dr Feldman’s research considers how digital communication technologies impact understandings and performances of traditionally analogue concepts – for instance, belonging, identity and wellbeing. She has published widely, including anthologies with Routledge and IB Tauris/Bloomsbury and in Information, Communication & Society; the European Journal of Cultural Studies; Feminist Media Studies; Celebrity Studies; TripleC; and Cultural Policy, Criticism & Management Research.

Xintong Jia is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Essex. Her interdisciplinary research considers media and gender, feminist epistemology, reality dating television, advertising and consumer culture, the dynamics of (post)feminism, and audience reception in global and transnational contexts. Dr Jia’s work has been published by the European Journal of Cultural Studies; Bologna University Press; Routledge; and Palgrave Macmillan.

Christina Scharff is Reader in Gender, Media and Culture in the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries at King’s College London, and Associate Dean for Doctoral Studies for the Arts & Humanities Faculty. Her work offers vital international perspectives on contemporary feminism, gendered media and gendered labour through theoretically informed empirical research. Dr Scharff’s research has been supported by grants from the Economic & Social Research Council and the British Academy, and published in top-tier journals including Feminist Theory; European Journal of Cultural Studies; European Journal of Women's Studies; Gender, Work & Organization; Cultural Sociology; Feminist Media Studies; Theory, Culture & Society; and The Sociological Review.

At this event

Zeena Feldman

Senior Lecturer in Digital Culture

Christina Scharff

Reader in Gender, Media and Culture