The authentic “healthy everywoman”?
Research shows that the performance of “authentic” identities by lifestyle bloggers impacts readership, but less is known about the mechanisms through which bloggers’ identities are evaluated by readers as (in)authentic. In this chapter I seek to understand how readers evaluate healthy living bloggers’ socially constructed identities as “healthy everywomen.” Interviews with 56 healthy living blog readers from Canada and the United States reveal that readers have an expectation of identity authenticity when reading blogs. A healthy living blogger is evaluated as a healthy everywoman against three embodied criteria: eating habits, exercise behaviors, and body aesthetics. More specifically, readers expect healthy living bloggers to calibrate their bodies and behaviors away from extremes, which reflects socially constructed expectations of contemporary femininity. Theoretically, this work advances the study of identity authentication by identifying how calibration is used as an evaluation tool. Empirically, this work identifies genre-specific, gendered evaluation criteria for women healthy living bloggers. These findings have implications for understanding how lifestyle bloggers are compelled to manage their (gendered) online identities in order to maintain a successful following.