Digital media and the promotion of a clean eating lifestyle: From 'glowing femininities' to 'skinny privilege'

Paul Gilchrist, Roseline Nicholls

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


'Clean eating' is the process of eliminating ‘dirty’ foods and ingredients from diets. Extant research has focused on public health concerns; the specific role the media plays in communicating dietary and health advice to clean eating adherents has been less well considered. This chapter explores the enrolment of digital media in the ‘clean eating’ movement and examines the social media platforms employed by influencers to provide recipes and health advice to followers. We show how ‘clean eating gurus’ Ella Woodward, Madeleine Shaw, Niomi Smart and Alice Liveing have documented and performed their ‘wellness journeys’ on a variety of social media platforms and through printed books; encouraging others to ‘eat smart’ and ‘get the glow’. Through a critical discourse analysis of their media texts, we reveal a framing of an affluent conspicuous consumer that poses as an idealistic, morally superior individual, in the process creating a distance between those who are privileged enough to afford a ‘clean’ lifestyle and the working class ‘other’. Drawing upon critical literatures across social science, we develop the concepts of ‘glowing femininities’ and ‘skinny privilege’ to help explain and expose the cultural politics of ‘clean eating’ in its framing of idealised bodies, lifestyles and ethical consumerism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital wellness, health and fitness influencers
Subtitle of host publicationCritical perspectives on digital guru media
EditorsStefan Lawrence
Place of PublicationAbingdon
PublisherRoutledge. Taylor & Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003256021
ISBN (Print)9781003256021, 9781032044422
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Critical Leisure Studies


  • Clean eating
  • Lifestyle
  • Influencers
  • Food geography
  • wellness


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