Every morning on Channel One, the makeover programme Fashion Verdict offers candidates and audiences sartorial advice appropriate to a middle-class sensibility. The show sets out to transform so-called dowdy candidates in ill-fitting clothes into style icons. The transformation helps each candidate find her ‘true self’, ‘empowerment’ and other such coveted end-goals. The show is an exercise in governmentality through which viewers’ conduct as well-groomed citizens is sought to be influenced. On the official message board, however, viewers also participate in the articulation of the show’s cultural ideals, specifically those of femininity and individuality, and work on making the show’s prescriptions correspond to reality as they understand it. Thus, the makeover enterprise is a multi-platform text where online audiences not only consume but also become co-arbiters of the sartorial discourse, making their engagement with the show’s prescriptions an exercise in cultural citizenship.

Language of contribution: English

Download pdf