By Katherine Sender
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Additional resources for The Makeover: Reality Television and Reflexive Audiences
Like many of the other candidates, Miles is an obliging and appreciative student, and judging by the responses of his friends and family, the makeover is a success. The Miles episode is exceptional, however, because it takes the production of masculinity as its explicit concern. 3 Here Miles’s history of being raised as a girl works against his sense of himself, so part of the Fab Five’s work is to induct him into practices that allow him to create a new habitus aligned with his identity as a man.
This public offers pleasures to mostly women candidates and audiences, and 46 << Gender and Genre also suggests a democratization of its themes to male audiences. For both women and men in the shows, contemporary makeovers intensify the relationship with the self already present in their precursors. They invoke themes of hope and possibility, the pleasure of being permitted to care for the self, and a sense of agency that a reflexive attitude promises. At the same time, these hopes and pleasures require work—shopping, self-monitoring, and emotional labor.
Appeals to men, however, present another example of the reaches of consumer capitalism further into domestic life. 46 For all the pleasures of feeling and assumed intimacy that makeover programs offer, Lauren Berlant, Misha Kavka, and Eva Illouz are interested in how affective relations are reworked through economic domains. . 50 The candidates work on themselves to monitor the self, revise identity narratives, and produce appropriate affect. Candidates are also involved in the feeling work necessary to maintain relationships with their loved ones during the shows and, especially in the case of Queer Eye, afterward.