All hail the pale male: Pretty boy selfies in the hyper-feminized Influencer ecology

In East Asia, the Influencer industry comprises primarily young women who market feminine­-oriented products to a predominantly female fanbase. However, a rising number of male Influencers have been making waves in this genre of late, by performing a variety of soft masculinities reminiscent of East Asian pop culture icons. Despite being a minority whose success and vulnerabilities are tied to the popularity and commercial power of their female counterparts, male Influencers have managed to rebrand their personae and narratives to portray a ‘productive marginality’ towards their predominantly female fanbase. This talk is focused on some key strategies male Influencers employ to maintain their foothold in a hyper-­feminized economy. We look specifically at how they curate selfies as a primary medium of communication with their follower base, by selectively posturing variants of ‘soft masculinity’ that border on metrosexuality and the archetypal ‘gay BFF’, and intentionally displaying ambiguity around their gender and sexual identities.

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For the keynote: Abidin, Crystal. 2018. “All hail the pale male: Pretty boy selfies in the hyper-feminized Influencer ecology.” Selfie Symposium, Swinburne University of Technology & RMIT, Melbourne. April 4-6, 2018.