Consumer Culture, Commodification, and the Female Self in Women's Print Media, Colombia, 1945–65

Sunday, January 8, 2012: 8:50 AM
Ontario Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Sandra Sánchez-López, Binghamton University (State University of New York)
This paper explores the growing significance of consumerism and commodification ascribed to women in female-authored periodicals. By dissecting visual and written media narratives between 1943 and 1965, I examine how women’s publications discussed the ways in which urban women engaged in consumption practices as the country tried to establish a more stable route to increasing capital and wealth. The publications I study created a platform where crafted female identities connected directly to national debates. They depicted women as active members of a deliberative community whose concerns included women’s role within a society that encouraged economic betterment. The narrative within women’s media thus illustrates the efforts made by urban women to communicate their views about generalized dynamics of commodification as they negotiated the parameters of their own participation. Most women’s periodicals addressed consumption issues by rendering images and texts on beauty, fashion, medical treatments, and family. As messages of consumption proliferated, female-authored publications established an amalgamation of local and transnational products and practices. Media narratives highlighted the importance of national brands and local customs for household consumption while insisting on transnational-oriented consumption for the more intimate sphere of the female self and body. Such a synthesis of the local and the transnational supposed an idiosyncratic refashioning of national realities to international standards of life. Within this process, female-authored periodicals implied exclusionary as well as conflicting views of womanhood and social status. By focusing on how women’s print media debated issues of female identity and commodification, the paper aims to unearth the nature and implications of cultural struggles over women’s differentiation and solidarity in a society committed to economic uplift.