PUBLICATIONS

If you do not have access to these manuscripts, please email Mariah at mariah.wellman@utah.edu for pdf copies. 
Recently Published:

Wellman, M.L., Holton, A.E., & Kaphingst, K.A. (2022). Previvorship posting: Why breast cancer previvors share their stories on social media. Health Communication. DOI: 10.1080/10410236.2022.2074780.


Wellman, M.L. (2022). Social media influencer rhetoric and the domestication of Health at Every Size on Instagram. Rhetoric of Health & Medicine, 5(1), 38-65. DOI: 10.5744/rhm.2022.5003.

Wellman, M.L. (2022). Black squares for Black lives? Performative allyship as credibility maintenance for social media influencers on Instagram. Social Media & Society. DOI: 10.1177/20563051221080473.


Wellman, M.L. & Holton, A.E. (2022). Instagram. In Borchard, G.A. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Journalism: 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. DOI: 10.4135/9781544391199.n205.
Screen Shot 2021-11-03 at 12.08.57 PM.png

Dodging negativity like it's my freaking job: Marketing postfeminist positivity through Beachbody fitness on Instagram

During the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, negativity circulated widely on social media; however, multilevel marketing (MLM) distributors selling fitness programs on Instagram remained blithely positive. In this article, we build upon Katrine Meldgaard Kjær 2019 assertion that “dieting [is] an affective practice” in the context of fitness influencer marketing and follow Kim Toffoletti and Holly Thorpe 2020 suggestion that affect circulates throughout women’s posts about fitness online. We explore how positivity becomes an important marketing device for Instagram fitness influencers in general and how, during periods of intense negative affect and economic uncertainty, such as during the first three months of the pandemic, the maintenance of positivity comes to not only signify the upkeep of proper postfeminist dispositions, but also to provide these influencers and their audiences with the symbolic means to ward off an illness that is circulating literally as a virus and figuratively as negativity. Turning to Beachbody coaches’ Instagram accounts, we illustrate how coaches’ calls to preserve one’s health, increase one’s income, and maintain control in the face of precarity require that they “dodge” the negativity associated with the virus and explicate how this positive “dodge” is tied to larger trends in postfeminist fitness influence online. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-03 at 2.47.01 PM.png

What it means to be a bodybuilder: Social media influencer labor and the construction of identity in the bodybuilding subculture.

While recent research has explored influencers within the fashion, beauty, fitness, and travel industries, few studies have examined influencers within physique sports like bodybuilding. Drawing on observation, informal interviews, and semistructured interviews with members of Gold’s Gym Venice, this study analyzes how bodybuilders, trainers, and influencers define labor and how they construct their identities as members of the bodybuilding subculture. The findings suggest bodybuilders and trainers believe influencers are not authentic members of the subculture and instead are sexualized laborers. The findings also explicate a misunderstanding among bodybuilders and trainers about how social media use is a productive form of labor for influencers. Influencers attempt to insert themselves into the subculture while bodybuilders and trainers simultaneously attempt to discredit their digital labor in favor of the physical. Gold’s Gym Venice connects these stakeholders by offering both a symbolic and historical credibility, validating forms of labor through subcultural belonging.

Screen Shot 2020-09-17 at 8.06.57 AM.png

Trans-mediated parasocial relationships: Private Facebook groups foster influencer-follower connection.

This essay offers an extension of the theory of parasocial relationships deemed trans-mediated parasocial relationships in which popular users rely on a specific social media platform to maintain relationships with followers previously kindled on another platform. The extension calls for scholars to pay attention to which platforms influential users are moving between and how the affordances of particular platforms help or hinder the growth of existing relationships. To explicate this theory extension, the researcher applied a multi-method approach to explore a private Facebook group run by Australian social media influencer, Sarah’s Day. The researcher investigates how members use the group to communicate their thoughts, seek support, ask questions, and share critiques of themselves and others. In this case, an influencer who originally fostered connections with followers on YouTube and Instagram built a self-sustaining Facebook group to maintain those relationships through little effort of her own, continually benefitting from follower labor.

Screen Shot 2020-07-23 at 1.46.08 PM.png

Ethics of Authenticity: Social media influencers and the production of sponsored content

Media coverage of influencer marketing abounds with ethical questions about this emerging industry. Much of this coverage assumes influencers operate without an ethical framework and many social media personalities skirt around the edges of legal guidelines. Our study starts from the premise that influencer marketing is not inherently unethical but, rather, the ethical principles guiding production of sponsored content are not well understood. Through a case study of the travel and tourism media industry, our findings demonstrate that influencers use the concept of authenticity as an ethical framework when producing sponsored content. This ethics of authenticity is premised on two central tenets: being true to one’s self and brand and being true to one’s audience. This framework puts the influencers’ brand identity and relationship with their audience at the forefront while simultaneously allowing them to profit from content designed to benefit brands and destinations.

Screen Shot 2020-07-23 at 1.57.23 PM.png

1983 - Stuart Hall visits Australia and North America

Throughout 1983 Cultural Studies continued to spread outside the United Kingdom, spurred by Stuart Hall’s tour of Australia and parts of the United States where he presented lectures connecting current ideas of what it means to study culture in often disparate and intense political climates across the globe. Myriad publications published in 1983 provide insight into how Cultural Studies circulated among scholars in varying disciplines while still in its infancy. This article situates Cultural Studies primarily within a North American context focusing on the pivotal event of the year: the teaching institute held prior to the 1983 conference at the University of Illinois where Hall delivered what would be eight influential lectures in the field of Cultural Studies. Further, I provide insight into an understudied conference held in Australia where Hall’s impact led to the birth of an Australian Cultural Studies journal. Finally, I provide an overview of some of the pivotal publications of the year, connecting ideas of hegemony, power and dominance, reflexivity and Marxism within a western context.

Screen Shot 2020-07-23 at 2.11.57 PM.png

Professionalizing and profiting: The rise of intermediaries in the social media influencer industry

This study examines the relationship between travel influencers (e.g., bloggers and social media personalities) and destination marketers within the changing travel and tourism industry. Through in-depth interviews, observations, and document analysis, we explore the tensions between travel influencers and destination marketers that shape the way travel is promoted, labor is compensated, and professional structures are negotiated. We examine a new breed of travel and tourism worker—intermediaries who seek to professionalize and formalize the relationship between influencers and destination marketers while simultaneously solidifying their own role within the industry. Intermediaries promote and facilitate relationships based on structured flexibility—formalized agreements designed to satisfy a brand’s campaign goals yet open enough for influencers to pursue their unique needs. By examining the relationships between digital content creators, destination marketers, and third-party intermediaries, this article provides insight into how digital media industries negotiate the tension between participation and control.