Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Communication and Rhetorical Studies


Rachel Hall


Femininity, Intimate public, Perfection, Self-care, Skincare, TikTok


In this thesis, I study the feminine culture of self-care on TikTok as it exists in prominent digital genres: skincare and soft living. These two genres represent the aspiration toward a soft perfection of both the physical self and the space around it. Situated within the theories of the female complaint (Berlant, 2008) and the paradigm of perfection (McRobbie, 2015), I argue that feminine culture on TikTok reframes the demanding and unending labor required to approximate standards of feminine perfection as a pleasing and satisfying experience of self-care. Self-care rhetoric on TikTok disguises the discipline required to pursue cultural definitions of feminine perfection as a tender, even romantic, way for women to care for themselves. By creating only one viable path to self-care, the soft feminine intimate public has turned a concept that used to be about radical love and acceptance into discipline, self-control, and the pursuit of perfecting what should never be perfected: the human body and its emotions. This rhetoric asserts that one is not doing a good enough job of taking care of themself if their routine does not consist of expensive skincare and a manicured, luxury apartment. Self-care, once understood as a radical and beautiful act of resistance, is now marketed as a technique to look more feminine and act more feminine, turning pleasure into discipline and peace into isolation.Keywords: self-care, intimate public, femininity, perfection, TikTok


Open Access



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