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Taking on the World: Disney’s Girl Meets World and Repositioning Tween Feminism

Since the mid 1990s children’s entertainment networks such as Disney Channel have catered to the 7-14 age demographic known as tweens.1 According to Cynthia Mauer, television shows that focus on tweens are “friendly shows that focus on, and offer solutions to, common problems in this age group.”2 Though the shows may be seen as friendly, Catherine Driscoll identifies tweens as a target for feminized and (hyper)sexualized marketing and merchandising category.3 Disney Channel generates performances of tweendom by promoting stories that both reflect and influence the culture of girls in the company’s key demographics.

One of Disney Channel’s most popular recent tween television shows, Girl Meets World (2014-2017), a spinoff of popular 1990s show Boy Meets World (1993-2000), was critically acclaimed, earning nominations for multiple Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and Primetime Emmy awards during its three-season run that peaked with more than five million viewers.4 Girl Meets World, much like most of Disney’s programming, promotes and reproduces hegemonic ideology of (white) heteronormativity,5 but explores the roles of friendship, family, and feminism in the tween lives of seventh graders Riley Matthews, played by Rowan Blanchard, and Maya Hart, played by Sabrina Carpenter. Some research has focused on exploring tween feminism in Disney programming over the past 10 years,6 however, only Linda Beail and colleagues have written about Girl Meets World and its engagement with postfeminism, referring to a single episode rather than the series at large. This article examines the complete 72-episode series, accounting for character growth and long-term development of storylines.

This article examines the representation of contemporary girl tweenhood in Girl Meets World to interrogate what Girl Meets World and Disney think girlhood and tween feminism looks like, as well as how these representations reposition postfeminism. Through textual analysis and a critical lens of postfeminism, this article expands the critical theoretical work to understand the next generation of Disney live-action tween programming and for continued theorization of contemporary girlhood and tween feminism circulating in popular culture. I argue Girl Meets World expands the role of friendship, highlighting feminine empowerment drawn from the choice of friends and self-improvement.

Disney and Tween Audiences

During the 1990s, Disney Channel began splitting its programming blocks to reach different demographics throughout the day with afternoons and evenings dedicated to teens and tweens.7 This block of programming saw Disney Channel produce its first original live action series for teens and tweens. Since then, Disney has continually produced shows for tweens, who remain one of their primary viewing audiences.8

Tween television predominantly targets girls ages from 7-14 and is generally described as aspirational, empowering and focusing on characters only a few years older than the tween viewers.9 Tween television is driven by characters and narratives that resonate with tweens because the stories are constructed to look and feel real as opposed to cartoons.10

According to Allison Pugh, children use television to gain knowledge and ability to take part in their social world as opposed to fulfilling established expectations from adults,11 a form of empowerment in the journey to adulthood.12 “Tweens want to identify with young women who exhibit some power and control over their lives and enjoy stories that involve family, friendships, transformations, and rescue fantasies,” according to Morgan Blue.13 Moreover, television shows give adolescents opportunities to identify with characters14 and study successful and unsuccessful peer relationships, which leads to better understanding of themselves.15 More importantly, when lead characters were depicted as strong females, the characters became even more appealing.16

As John Fiske notes, television carries power by creating, reinforcing, or challenging culture, beliefs, behavior, and relationships.17 Consequently, television programs such as Girl Meets World offer insight into how friendship, girlhood, and (post)feminism are presented to tweens, as tweens explore their identity, social standing, and friendships. De Beauvoir asserted that “[o]ne is not born, but rather, becomes a woman.”18 The process of becoming is considered vital to girlhood studies as it encapsulates the end of girlhood and entrance into womanhood. Driscoll understood girlhood as “encompassing no specific age group but rather an idea of mobility preceding the fixity of womanhood and implying an unfinished process of personal development.”19 Consequently, girlhood is relentlessly rewritten and redefined, 20 often through differentiation.21

Tweens, therefore, negotiate their identity collectively and individually. 22 Blue describes the process in which girls are constructed within popular culture, positioning them as “young-women-in-training,”23 particularly as neoliberal consumers that derive empowerment through individual choices, co-opting societal expectations on appearance. Participation in consumer culture plays a vital role in postfeminism, demonstrating empowered femininity through fashion and shopping.24

The Disney Channel, (Post)feminism, and Representations of Girlhood

Disney presents feminism as a historical artifact that is no longer relevant to the girls in their universes.25 With patriarchal barriers shattered, girls have seemingly unlimited potential and only need to merely exist to take advantage. Yet, they must make the right individual consumer choices that benefit themselves. Angela McRobbie argues this emphasis leads to a sort of obsession with consumer culture that connects directly to neoliberalism and capitalism, which support patriarchal systems.26

Although McRobbie, Negra, Tasker and Negra, Gill, and Blue27 have theorized postfeminism in indispensable ways, the term remains contested28 and must be continually redefined as society changes.29 Most agree that postfeminist claims of gender equality having been reached in education, the workplace, and at home are harmful, resulting in the undoing of feminist gains.30 McRobbie claims postfeminism discourses include a double entanglement of individual empowerment and choice in ways that both affirm and contradict feminism.31

Butler notes that female agency is constructed with culture instead of against culture.32 As such, girls have been depicted as fun-loving and neoliberal consumers—defined by the desire to buy clothes and other goods for the purpose of self-objectification and empowerment.33 Girls and tweens, therefore, take for granted the gains made through feminist movements prior to their birth.

According to Amy Dobson, girls and young women have since been depicted as empowered through shopping, fashion, their appearance, and their sexual agency,34 which can produce flawed critical analyses, leaving scholars “seeking feminism, and finding it absent, and producing a value judgment on the progressive or negative image of ‘the woman’ therein.”35 Some have argued feminist gains are undermined in postfeminism when women become active participants in their sexualization.36

Rather than focusing on appearance, fashion, sexual agency, and individual empowerment, Beail and colleagues began to reposition postfeminism to include friendships as part of a tween girl’s agency,37 finding messages that project girls with self-confidence, having equality with boys, and making active individual choices that empower them to improve their situation. One way these representations accomplish a repositioning is through a support system from friends, which leads to characters finding common ground, and valuing each other, as well as themselves, for who they are. This article works to expand on Beail, Lupo, and Beail’s repositioning of girlhood and tween postfeminism by considering friendship as an additional part of a tween’s critical agency, as well as the implications of this for popular discourses of girlhood, tween life, and feminism.38

According to Maurer, friendships are the most significant relationships outside the family during the tween years,39 as girls stay in close proximity to others their age who share interests, common social norms, and potentially provide emotional support.40 Robert Hays believes four behaviors define friendship: 1) companionship, including the sharing of experiences; 2) consideration through helping or showing concern; 3) communication through self-disclosure and confiding in one another; 4) the expression of affection.41 Exhibiting these behaviors helps to establish friendships,42 which are vital in maintaining emotional well-being.43 Further, female friendships can be harmed by negative stereotypes and negative attitudes about women in the media.44 Television is one of those influential sites that provides instruction on what true friendship, feminism, girlhood, and tween life can look like.

Adding to Beail, Lupo and Beail’s findings of positive support system and strong female friendships in Disney programming, this article seeks to expand tween postfeminism characteristics by illuminating the self-empowerment and improvement friendships can provide, as well as the resulting political action that is taken as Riley and Maya take on the world and foster change in their world. These connections address a gap in the literature on Disney and tween postfeminist discourse.


One of the main goals of feminist media studies focusing on television texts is to determine what the representations of characters, especially around gender and femininity, say about culture. This article uses a realist approach as defined by Matthew Miles and Michael Huberman, who developed the most widely used qualitative research handbook.45 They describe realist approaches as having a built-in reliability: “social phenomena exist not only in the mind but also in the objective world – and … some lawful and reasonably stable relationships are to be found among them.”46 Critical cultural perspectives are coupled with theoretical foundations provided by emerging scholarship regarding contemporary cultural construction of postfeminism, girlhood, and tween life,47 to address what Disney thinks tween postfeminism looks like and its implications when applying the postfeminist lens to Girl Meets World.

This article uses a thematic analysis approach based upon how Virginia Braun and Victoria Clarke and Oppliger identified in terms of the ways in which characters are represented and the implications these portrayals may have for their tween audience.48 Alan McKee describes textual analysis as the best methodology to describe the structure and functions of content in addition to describing the messages embedded in the content. 49 Mauer argues that although “programming designed just for tweens has inherent appeal, content analysis cannot reveal the intricacies of how tweens use media as cultural tools in social life.”50 According to Jonathan Potter, this method allows researchers to see themes from multiple messages, preventing limits to a single depiction,51 which is vital because tween television programs include detail and parse out character growth throughout the series. Following this approach does not pose what Sally Tracy would call a value-filled moral concern.52 Potter also notes that coherence is a check for validity, in that each study should provide a check on the previous while adding to it.53 This article builds coherence regarding repositioning tween postfeminism with friendship, adding more nuance to Beail, Lupo and Beail’s analysis of feminism in Disney programming.54

This study focuses on the messages that Disney Channel tween television show Girl Meets World uses to depict girlhood, feminism, and friendship in tween life, drawing on Miles and Huberman’s realist approach in which social phenomena exists in the world as well as the mind. In particular, a postfeminist lens is applied to analyze characters and their navigation of their own tween lives to illuminate what Girl Meets World and Disney think girlhood and tween feminism looks like. This article defines postfeminism as the normalization of contradictory societal expectations, suggesting that women have gained independence and equality and feminism is no longer needed. However, media depictions and actual societal conditions do not reflect such expectations, particularly when postfeminism is linked to neoliberal consumerism, emphasizing appearance and capitalistic purchasing rather than striving for equality. As such, women take a role in the process of undermining feminist efforts, producing an entanglement.55

Oppliger,56 as well as Temple Northup and Carol Liebler,57 chose to study Disney Channel television programming because the network holds a high share of the tween girl market. Many of these programs, such as Girl Meets World, continue to draw viewers on Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, exercising significant influence on children about social norms—how girls should behave and dress.58 Most importantly, Disney influences which experiences a tween should value through its programming.

Data Collection & Analysis Procedure

All 72 episodes of Girl Meets World were viewed multiple times by the researcher. Following Braun and Clarke and Oppliger’s thematic analysis steps, this article began with familiarization with the artifact before proceeding with coding, searching for themes, reviewing themes to produce a thematic map, naming and defining the themes, and finalizing the themes through completion of expressing them in writing.59 Tracy described a similar inductive process that begins with observations, leading to conceptualization of patterns, making tentative claims and finally re-examining the claims to draw conclusions.60 The themes in this study build coherence with previous research that began to reposition girlhood and tween postfeminism.61


Three key themes emerged surrounding how Disney’s Girl Meets World conceptualizes tween postfeminism: identity through friendship and relationships, contrasting and converging identities, and identity through neoliberal consumerism. Early in the pilot episode, Cory Matthews, the subject of the original series Boy Meets World, now a father and history teacher at a middle school in New York City, tells his class that “History shows that bad things happen when you don’t know who you are.” This proclamation is the catalyst in the lives of the two main protagonists, Riley Matthews and Maya Hart, prompting them to explore their own tween identities and discover who they are. It is also the catalyst to what Disney thinks a true tween postfeminism looks like: unwavering loyal friendship that empowers themselves and others socially, in education, neoliberal consumerism, and other societal realms.

The discussion will answer the implications for how tween postfeminist is discussed.

Identity through Friendship and Relationships

Girl Meets World’s emphasis on friendship begins with the theme song for Girl Meets World. The theme, entitled “Take On The World,” sets the stage for the narrative viewers will see unfold over the three seasons of the show. One section of notable lyrics underscores the depiction of what Disney appears to think a good tween girlhood should be: “Face to face with changes/what’s it all about?/life is crazy/but I know I can work it out/cause I got you to live it with me.” The lyrics coupled with Cory’s challenge to the girls in the opening scene—go make the world yours—establish that the bedrock to Riley and Maya’s friendship is the devoted and unconditional support they provide each other, regardless of the difficulties in navigating tweenhood. The lyrics and the opening scene to Girl Meets World establishes friendship as a significant influence of tween girlhood and a foundation to identity. Friendship is a primary means of establishing identity for Riley and Maya in Girl Meets World, along with the hallmarks of friendship defined by Hays.62

The pilot episode demonstrates the significance of the girls’ friendship when Cory assigns members of the class an essay about something each would fight for. Maya, a rebellious individual, fights for no homework. In rebellion, Maya unintentionally sets off the fire sprinklers with a sparkler. Cory tells her that she goes too far, and that friends help each other out of trouble, not into it. After this conversation, Maya attempts to break off her friendship with Riley, telling her that Cory will ask her to stop coming around. An onlooker to the conversation on the subway train interrupts, telling Riley and Maya they have a sweet friendship and that friends—best friends—are important. Maya tells Riley to go home alone when the train reaches Riley’s stop, going as far as to gently push her onto the platform despite the outcries from the onlooker telling Maya not to push Riley off the train.

Riley, however, decides that her friendship with Maya is worth fighting for. Riley forces the train doors back open as the onlooker shouts, “Oh, she’s back! That little girl pushed those doors open with the power of love.” Riley tells Maya that she will not abandon their friendship, standing up to Cory by telling him that she is fighting for her friendship with Maya: “She’s going to get me into trouble, and I’m going to get us out of it.” The choice of friendship and standing up to authority—her father— highlights substantial development, empowering Riley for the first time.

The exploration of identity through Riley and Maya’s friendship does not just end with the direct interaction between the two. A significant component of their identities and friendship hinges on their trust and belief in each other. In “Girl Meets Sneak Attack” (S1E3) Riley tells Lucas Friar, a middle school boy from Texas, that the easiest thing about having friends is that “Sometimes all you have to do is trust them.” This trust between Riley and Maya is foundational to their bond and how they treat each other when faced with conflict, particularly in the love triangle storyline that develops. The two must navigate the complexities of liking the same guy, vying for his affection, but remaining friends.

In the second episode (“Girl Meets Boy”), Riley immediately develops a crush on Lucas and bonds with him on an emotional level over Lucas’s life in Texas. The connection forms when the two work together on an assignment designed to teach students to communicate face-to-face instead of through texting on their phones, setting up a 43-episode storyline questioning if the two will become boyfriend and girlfriend. Before a resolute answer comes, Maya also develops a crush during the second season of the series (“Girl Meets Texas” parts 1-3). By this time Riley and Lucas have gone out on a date, become a couple, broken up, and kissed. But Riley’s supportive and understanding reaction to identifying that Maya may have feelings for Lucas upends stereotypes about tweens in competition with each other and tearing each other down. This stereotype, sometimes referred to “mean girls,”63 has increasingly been depicted in media as a salient part of tween’s lives.64

Riley decides to sacrifice a romantic relationship with Lucas to allow her best friend to be happy, even though it pains her. Riley views this sacrifice as necessary and what a good friend does. This belief challenges not only stereotypes, but the patriarchy that pits women against each other.65 After Riley encourages Maya and Lucas to date, she continues to have feelings for Lucas. These secret feelings are exposed on New Year’s Eve by Farkle, who knew of Riley’s true feelings. This creates conflict and tension between Riley and Maya, as Riley has lied to Maya about her feelings. However, maturity is shown by Riley, rejecting cattiness and mean girls stereotypes, by telling Maya she needs to “feel whatever you feel” and that, “it’s you and me forever. There is nothing that you could ever do to change that.” She believes friends help each other find happiness, which is reinforced when Riley later tells Maya, “I’ll always be your friend, no matter what … It’s you and me until the end of time.”

The two girls also share concern for each other and offer support regardless of the tension between them. One such powerful moment between Riley and Maya comes as they sit in Riley’s bay window, their safe spot where, according to Cory, they talk for hours:

Maya: We’re letting boys into our lives. How do I know if he’s the right guy for you? How do I know if he’s good enough?
Riley: You’re the only one who’s good enough for me.
Maya: This we’ve always known.

Such scenes exemplify how friendship is seen as a vital role in a tween girl’s identity in Girl Meets World, contrasting with other popular depictions of tween girls as enemies, such as seen in the movie Mean Girls. Late in the pilot episode, Riley tells Maya: “This is my world now and the first person I want in it is you.” Girl Meets World emphasizes the power of individual choice in valuing female friends and girls supporting other girls rather than deriving empowerment through meanness.66

The message from Disney appears to be that friendship, especially among girls, is vital to healthy and happy tween lives. Further, here’s two role models, Riley and Maya, to pattern behavior and decision making after.

Double Identities: Contrasting and Converging Identities

Beail, Lupo, and Beail describe double identities as a means to represent contrasting notions of femininity by compartmentalizing gender stereotypes in regard to identity in Disney programming.67 Riley and Maya are, in some ways, doubled as the titular characters Liv and Maddie were in Beail, and colleagues’ findings. Girl Meets World, however, uses the doubling of identities with Riley and Maya, originally starkly different, to tell its audience “if you’re Riley you cannot be Maya,” despite their identities later converging.

In the pilot, Riley tells Maya she wants to be just like her saying, “I think too much, and you don’t think at all.” Riley is quirky, awkward, and a follower, while Maya is more confident, brash, and rebellious, writing a fraudulent note from Cory to excuse her and Riley from being late to their history class, taught by Cory. Later, their friend Farkle Minkus claims he loves Riley and Maya equally, a statement that Cory challenges, asking, “Actually, the great mystery of the universe is how you could love two women the same who couldn’t possibly be more different.” Farkle then describes Riley as the sun. She’s bright and lights up his day. Maya, however, is the night: dark and mysterious. Riley highlights the differences between her and Maya, asking rhetorically, “Am I the type of person who always plays it safe? Is this who I’m going to be the rest of my life? Am I ever going to take a risk that changes my destiny?” Cory asks what the opposite of innocent is, to which Maya responds, “right here.” Maya does not do homework; Riley does and loves doing Maya’s, too.

“Their dynamic contrasts opposing mode of young womanhood while emphasizing the love and connection they share across difference, even as it collapses those differences into only two options girls’ gender expression.”68 Although Riley and Maya are not twins, or living a double life, they are each presented as one half of a whole, representing oppositional perspectives and personality traits—perhaps even capturing a full range of female personality. The message is that a girl’s tween identity can only be binary: if you’re not Riley, then you must be Maya. Yet, it is their friendship, their support of each other, and their neoliberal consumerism that empowers their individuality and that binds them together despite their differences. In fact, the contrast between Riley and Maya is useful in demonstrating how true friendship and conflict management can work.

However, this contrast of identities undergoes significant change throughout the course of the show. Slowly, Riley has a positive influence on Maya. The influence results in converging identities that are most clearly depicted through neoliberal consumerism (defined as not only engaging in capitalistic consumerism but also becoming a product themselves by placing self-value based on appearance and what they wear) and their budding romantic aspirations with their crush, Lucas.

The writers play with double identity as Maya assumes similar traits to Riley as she develops feelings for Lucas. Maya becomes less outspoken, less aggressive, behaves in class, and even completes homework like Riley. To this point, it appears that Girl Meets World’s dichotomous depictions of Riley as the proper tween girl, and Maya as the improper and undesirable tween girl, deliver a message about what true tween girlhood looks like. As Maya’s behavior changes, her art teacher claims she seems lost and lacks her own voice. This disturbs Maya because art formed one key component of her identity, which also marked her as distinctly different from Riley. Further blurring the lines of identity, Maya abandons much of her early attire, including trendy band t-shirts and pants with holes, in favor of more stylish feminine clothing. These aesthetic changes in Maya’s identity highlight the most overt collapse of identity, as Maya begins to dress like Riley. Riley notes this change in Maya’s wardrobe and shift in personality, culminating in a joke in “Girl Meets Triangle” (S3E5) that comes during an exchange between Riley and her mother, Topanga.

Topanga: [about Maya] What’s wrong with her?
Riley: She’s been getting good grades; she’s behaving all over the place … What is that?
Topanga: Well, we like to believe that we helped contribute to the perfectly civilized lovely young lady we see sitting before us.
Riley: It’s Maya!
Topanga: Oh, yeah … We broke her.

Maya rejects the assessment that she has become another Riley, though she has been behaving more like Riley as their friendship deepened: “My voice is still my voice, Riley. You’re gonna need to show me a lot more than clothes and hair and a boy before I believe that it isn’t.” It is not until after the triangle storyline between Maya, Riley, and Lucas is resolved that Maya’s identity begins to separate from Riley’s again, though Maya never regresses to where she started, she is presented as self-improved and self-empowered.

The collapse of the differences between Riley and Maya is significant, as it undercuts the contrasting notions of femininity by presenting them as essentially the same girl despite their opposing character traits. As such, the possibilities for tween girl identity is sharply restricted, as Beail and colleagues found. Interestingly, this is an introspective moment for Maya, as she learns important insight about Riley’s and her own identity. This moment of clarity helps Maya to realize her manifest feelings for Lucas were not her own. She became more like Riley, unintentionally, as a protective measure to ensure that Lucas was worthy of Riley’s affection and that he would not hurt her best friend. The emphasis on support as opposed to competition helps to reposition postfeminist girlhood identities, as media often depicts girls and tweens competing for affection.

Although competitive for Lucas’s affection during this time, the bond of friendship between Riley and Maya is shown to be deep, strong, and based in loyalty to a fault. Riley steps back from Lucas so Maya and Lucas can explore their feelings. Maya begins to act and dress much more like Riley, in essence becoming another Riley. The dates between Maya and Lucas are also in opposite contrast to those between Riley and Lucas. Maya and Lucas struggle to talk to each other, while Riley and Lucas do that easily. However, each validates the other’s feelings, and the resolution to the triangle storyline allows each to learn from the other’s point of view. The resolution to the conflict provides a counter message to typical portrayals of friendships ending over boys. However, this resolution allows for Riley and Lucas to become a couple again after overcoming those complications—presenting yet more training to tweens that the happy ending is landing the boy, even if it is your own choice. The narrative obviously does not challenge heterosexual romance but does co-opt postfeminist messages of agency and individual female empowerment. Girl Meets World does so, however, by emphasizing friendship as opposed to romance as a means to an end.

This storyline, while creating tension and conflict between the two friends, builds on the theme of taking on the world (which sometimes means taking on your friends), and bolsters the role of friendship in this form of tween feminism. The emphasis on friendship as a form of identity for Riley and Maya is strikingly similar to what Beail, Lupo and Beail describe as the definition of true postfeminist empowerment. Riley and Maya’s choosing each other over a boy and conflicts, including with each other, moves Girl Meets World’s portrayal of feminism from pre-feminist notions of identity toward postfeminist empowerment. 69 Consequently, Girl Meets World provides a guide to its younger viewers on developing friendship, starting with putting others first and with fierce loyalty to female friends. The individual decisions Riley and Maya make to reaffirm each other also help to reposition postfeminism for tween girls, offering a repudiation of postfeminist individuality for the benefit of others as a means of empowerment.

Identity through Neoliberal Consumerism

Negra notes that the category of tween, created by television networks and the retail industry to capture a new demographic, places heightened importance on appearance, equating value of appearance to what a tween girl can offer society;70 thus, tween identities became the ultimate commodity, manifest through consumerism, that postfeminist tweens use to co-produce identity and make themselves a product.71 Throughout Girl Meets World, Riley and Maya are valued for their individual potential, but they also buy into the neoliberal consumerism and the same patriarchal systems they take aim at. For instance, Riley and Maya, although not hypersexualized by Disney, internalize a set of beauty norms, emphasizing stylish clothes, thinness and more mature appearances. They must buy. They must consume and become more mature. These beauty expectations and neoliberal consumerism take form in episodes in which Riley and Maya go shopping (“Girl Meets Demolition,” S1E21) and (“Girl Meets Hurricane,” S2E8) when Shawn Hunter buys new, stylish clothes for Maya because she could not afford them. The act of kindness and care by Shawn works in conjunction with a long-term storyline that sees him build a friendship and relationship with Maya’s single mother, culminating with Shawn’s marriage to Maya’s mother. The new clothes represent a new beginning and an identity-challenging experience for Maya—one that sees her become more like Riley than herself.

Yes, Maya believes she feels happier and healthier, much like Riley, with her new clothes. This depiction of neoliberal consumerism feeds into the male gaze and patriarchal system by emphasizing feminine appearance and how it makes the girls feel, as Riley puts it, after Maya showcases her new wardrobe, shouting: “YESSSS!” or “LOVE IT!” Though Riley and Maya find empowerment in their appearance, they value themselves and use their agency as consumers as a co-producer of their identity, rejecting the male gaze. They do not seek affirmation from males about their appearance. These highly visible cues, emphasizing neoliberal consumerism, deliver the message that tween girls need to participate in this culture for their own satisfaction rather than for boys’ satisfaction.

Girl Meets World’s depiction of neoliberal consumerism is not without notable subversion, however. In a twist that provides more nuance to postfeminist ideals that focus on individual decisions as a means to self-empowerment, Cory tells Maya that the clothes look nice, but it’s the hope that looks best on her. This redirection away from neoliberal consumerism repositions tween postfeminism by presenting a new lens to view through: that hope, joy, and other desires can be fulfilled from within, even though having nice things feels good. Moreover, the postfeminist outcome for Maya is made by an attitudinal shift in perspective and support from her friend. There’s no negative cost to Maya’s newfound hope. In fact, she tells Riley that she is beginning to believe she can have good things after previously saying “Hope is for suckers.”

Overall, Girl Meets World, constructs tween girlhood identity through neoliberal consumerism that is tied to celebrating the girls’ ability to transform themselves into their best, most powerful selves: projecting confidence, hope, and protecting the youthful appearance society covets.


What does Girl Meets World and Disney think girlhood and tween feminism looks like?

Girl Meets World illuminates postfeminist characteristics consistently throughout the series, offering its audience the chance to explore dilemmas and experiences that influence tween girls’ identities. As described by McRobbie, postfeminist discourses emphasize individual empowerment and choice, which both affirms and rejects feminism.72 Girl Meets World affirms feminism, embracing friendship as a support system, activism, and challenging authority to foster change in Riley and Maya’s corner of the world. However, it also rejects feminism through its depictions of neoliberal consumerism.

Brown argues that girls have been long exposed to a version of femininity laced with betrayal and distrust, complaint and deceit.73 Disney’s Girl Meets World rejects these depictions, projecting supportive postfeminist tweendom without cattiness and mean girl stereotypes though the girls are not perfect, have conflict, and make mistakes.

Despite this positive repositioning of tween postfeminism, from mean girls to supportive and loyal friends, Girl Meets World reinforces neoliberal consumerism by emphasizing fashion and clothes. Although Riley and Maya are shown to be consumers and a product themselves in how they use capitalism to co-author their burgeoning identities, it is clear that Disney believes tween postfeminism looks binary. By this, you are either a Riley or a Maya. There’s no room to be a complex mesh, as illustrated when their identities coalesce around their roles as consumers and not as their individual identities as tweens. In the instances in which Maya actively shops or makes decisions to dress like Riley, the girls’ roles are emphasized as consumers, blurring their identities as different tweens. Further, Gifford-Smith and Brownell argue that friendship acts like a mirror to establish appropriate behavior.74 Consequently, it may not be all that surprising that Riley influences Maya, providing the model of how to behave. These idealized depictions of tween postfeminism perpetuate the idea of agency, choice, and girl power when, in fact, they remain tightly regulated by patriarchal structures in society as Riley and Maya do not bring about political change or challenge the status quo overall. The girls, however, on several occasions use their agency and challenge authority to create disruptions to the status quo in their world, an important lesson for the tween audience.

The sparkle of such a successful endeavor to take on feminism is also reinforced in “Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington”(S2E9), “Girl Meets the New Teacher” (S2E10), and “Girl Meets Creativity” (S2E14). In all three cases, the girls and their friends take on authority—a corrupt, long-time senator representing New York who makes decisions that harm the youth of the state and country (“Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington”), a sexist principal who attempts to fire the new female English teacher because of pedagogical decisions that encourage conceptual connections for the students (“Girl Meets the New Teacher”), and a school board that wants to cut all arts programs (“Girl Meets Creativity”). At every turn, the girls lead the way to foster change and beat the patriarchal society that regulates them.

In “Girl Meets Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington,” the girls help Cory’s brother, Eric, win an election to become senator. “Girl Meets the New Teacher” sees the girls support their new teacher, convincing the superintendent that her termination was the incorrect decision. Interestingly, it is Maya’s reputation as a difficult student that demonstrates the effectiveness of the new teacher’s pedagogy, showing that she met the learning objectives in answering questions. Finally, in “Girl Meets Creativity,” the girls lead the way in convincing the school board to find other ways to work through the budget crunch that will save the arts.

Though the decisions by Riley and Maya to lead the way in fighting against sexism is based on individuality, the benefits extend beyond their own empowerment. The results benefit everyone, not just Riley and Maya. The focus on the girls’ impact on their school and classmates helps Disney and Girl Meets World to reposition postfeminism to include elements from other waves of feminism.

Both main protagonists are deeply concerned with their clothes and how they look. Riley and Maya even give a nerdy girl with Asperger’s, Smackle, a makeover, emphasizing makeup and clothes to make her beautiful and to get the attention of archrival and friend of Riley and Maya, Farkle. Hilariously, Girl Meets World turns this on its head when a store clerk manipulates Cory with compliments. This results in the store clerk ripping Cory off in the same way that she rips off tween girls. The critique, while understated, demonstrates what happens when people of any age—tween or adult—place too much emphasis on another’s opinion of their appearance and attractiveness.

How do these representations reposition postfeminism?

Sarah Projansky called for more research that addresses complexities in the relationships between shifting discourses of girlhood and the representations of girls in contemporary popular culture.75 This study aimed to build on more recent studies76 to further answer Projansky’s call, finding coherence with Beail and colleagues as well as Oppliger, and repositioning tween feminism to include friendship as part of their agency.

Girl Meets World overtly addresses the state of feminism only once in the series. In “Girl Meets Stem” (S2E26), a science teacher conducts a social experiment in pairing up a boy and girl in class. The girls end up dropping the marble of a mystery substance into water and let the boys do the science to figure out what the substance is. Riley, however, refuses to drop the marble, invoking feminism, much to the shock and horror of her lab partner, Farkle. Riley points out the sexism in the boys doing the science, and the teacher tells the class he does the experiment every year and rarely does a girl speak up like Riley does.


The implications for this sort of discourse enlightens the young demographic to more nuanced views of feminism and what power lies in tweendom. Girl Meets World embraces a positive depiction of the girls engaging politically for a variety of reasons. In short, Girl Meets World provides an idealist portrayal of what the writers think a good (girl) tween life looks like. The idealistic portrayal is not without nuance, however, as there is conflict, tension, and rough patches in Riley and Maya’s friendship. This article finds coherence with Beail and colleague’s conclusion,77 that there is potential to shift the types of representation of feminism to focus on strong female friendships.

Representations such as those seen in Girl Meets World are vital in a shifting tween feminism and diverge from popular culture representations of mean girls. In conjunction with Beail and colleagues,78 a friendship focused femininity is indicative of a broader Disney effort to change the discourse around how tweens choose to live. Though Riley and Maya compete with each other for Lucas’s affection for much of the show, the positive supportive friendship between the two models a different type of feminism. The implications of a representation offered by Girl Meets World and Disney helps to change the conversation and expectations placed on tweens and their friendships, especially when shown the empowerment Riley and Maya gain from each other’s support and affirmation. More powerfully, these encouraging signs come as girls who do not seem that alike on the surface, not only support each other but learn from their differences.

The emphasis on female friendship helps reposition how feminism is talked about with the tween demographic. It adds depth to the message of what a good tweenhood is expected to be and waters down the neoliberal consumerist traits a bit. The show attempts to produce narratives with gender equality—and when gender equality lacks, the girls engage politically, taking on the world to create change. As such, Girl Meets World breaks the mold for Disney Channel shows in that self-improvement is not the only goal. The girls want to make the world a better place and take steps to help improve the lives of an unknown collective in and outside of their middle school/high school bubble.

Through contrasting these postfeminist traits, using clear narratives that produce meaningful lessons and discussion of issues, Girl Meets World attempts not only to represent complex realities of tweens’ lives, but to lay out a road map to navigating what is to come. The show offers a more nuanced view of postfeminism for girls and tweens that is positive and focuses on friendship and arms the tweens with a foundation to become politically engaged to take on the world and the status quo. Riley and Maya make the world theirs and provide an idealized roadmap for their audience to follow in forming their postfeminist identities.


Aapola, Sinikka, Marnina Gonick, Anita Harris, and Jo Campling. Young Femininity: Girlhood, Power and Social Change. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.

Attick, Dennis. “Images of Teachers: Disney Channel Sitcoms and Teachers as Spectacle.” Counterpoints 477 (2016): 137–47.

Beail, Linda, Lindsey Lupo, and Caroline Beail. “ ‘Better in Stereo’: Doubled and Divided Representations of Postfeminist Girlhood on the Disney Channel.” Visual Inquiry 7, no. 2 (June 1, 2018): 125–40. (

Behm-Morawitz, Elizabeth, and Dana E. Mastro. “Mean Girls? The Influence of Gender Portrayals in Teen Movies on Emerging Adults’ Gender-Based Attitudes and Beliefs.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 85, no. 1 (March 2008): 131–46. (

Bettis, Pam, and Mary F. Roe. “Reading Girls: Living Literate and Powerful Lives.” RMLE Online 32, no. 1 (January 2008): 1–18. (

Blue, Morgan Genevieve. Girlhood on Disney Channel: Branding, Celebrity, and Femininity. New York: Routledge, 2017.

–. “The Best of Both Worlds?” Feminist Media Studies 13, no. 4 (September 2013): 660–75. (

Braun, Virginia, and Victoria Clarke. “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology.” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, no. 2 (2006): 77–101.

Brown, Bradford B., and Christa Klute. “Friendships, Cliques, and Crowds.” In Handbook of Adolescence, eds. G.R. Adams and M.D. Berzonsky. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003, 330–48.

Brown, Lyn Mikel. Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls. NYU Press, 2003.

Brown, Marion. “The Sad, the Mad, and the Bad: Co-existing Discourses of Girlhood.” Child Youth Care Forum, 40, 107-140, 2011. (https://doi:10.1007/s10566-010-9115-5)

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. New York, London: Routledge, 1990.

Corsaro, William A. “Qualitative Research on Children’s Peer Relations in Cultural Context.” In Peer Relationships in Cultural Context, edited by Xinyin Chen, Doran C. French, and Barry H. Schneider, 96–120. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex, 301. Translated by. H.M. Parshley. New York: Randomhouse-Vintage, 1974.

Dobson, Amy Shields. Postfeminist Digital Cultures. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Driscoll, Catherine. Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.

Fairclough, Kirsty. “Fame is a Losing Game: Celebrity Gossip Blogging, Bitch Culture and Postfeminism.” Genders 48, no. 1, 2008.

Fisherkeller, JoEllen. “Everyday Learning about Identities among Young Adolescents in Television Culture.” Anthropology Education Quarterly 28, no. 4 (December 1997): 467–92. (

Fiske, John. Television Culture. London: Routledge, 2002.

Gerhard, Jane. “Sex and the City.” Feminist Media Studies 5, no. 1 (March 2005): 37–49. (

Gifford-Smith, Mary E, and Celia A. Brownell. “Childhood Peer Relationships: Social Acceptance, Friendships, and Peer Networks.” Journal of School Psychology 41, no. 4 (July 2003): 235–84. (

Gill, Rosalind M. “From sexual objectification to sexual subjectification: the resexualisation of women’s bodies in the media.” Feminist Media Studies 3(1):100-106, 2002. (

–. Gender and the Media. Malden: Polity Press, 2007.

Hays, Robert B. “The Development and Maintenance of Friendship.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1, no. 1 (March 1984): 75–98. (

Henrich, Christopher C., Gabriel P. Kuperminc, Amy Sack, Sidney J. Blatt, and Bonnie J. Leadbeater. “Characteristics and Homogeneity of Early Adolescent Friendship Groups: A Comparison of Male and Female Clique and Nonclique Members.” Applied Developmental Science 4, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 15–26. (

Horbury, Alison. “Post-Feminist Impasses in Popular Heroine Television.” Continuum 28, no. 2 (March 4, 2014): 213–25. (

Iqbal, Humera, Sarah Neal, and Carol Vincent. “Children’s Friendships in Super-Diverse Localities: Encounters with Social and Ethnic Difference.” Childhood 24, no. 1 (July 24, 2017): 128–42. (

Jennings, Nancy A. Tween Girls and Their Mediated Friends. New York: Peter Lang, 2014.

Katz, Brandon. “ ‘Girl Meets World’ Cancelled By Disney, But Why?” Forbes, Jan. 5, 2017. (

Kennedy, Melanie. “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: ‘Becoming’ a Woman, ‘Becoming’ a Star.” Celebrity Studies 5, no. 3 (April 2014): 225–41. (

Kissell, Rick. “Variety.” Variety, December 30, 2015. (

MacDonald, Fiona. “Negotiations of Identity and Belonging: Beyond the Ordinary Obviousness of Tween Girls’ Everyday Practices.” Girlhood Studies 7, no. 2 (January 1, 2014). (

Mackinnon, Catharine A. Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987.

Maurer, Cynthia. “Tween Girls’ Use of Television to Navigate Friendship.” Girlhood Studies 11, no. 1 (January 1, 2018). (

McKee, Alan. Textual Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide. London: Sage Publications, 2003.

McRobbie, Angela. “Post‐feminism and Popular Culture.” Feminist Media Studies 4, no. 3 (November 2004): 255–64. (

–. The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change. London: Sage, 2009.

Miles, Matthew B., and Michael A. Huberman. Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications., 2009, 1994.

Negra, Diane. What a Girl Wants? Fantasizing the Reclamation of Self in Postfeminism. London: Routledge, 2009.

Northup, Temple, and Carol M. Liebler. “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.” Journal of Children and Media 4, no. 3 (July 14, 2010): 265–82. (

Oppliger, Patrice A. TWEENCOM GIRLS: Gender and Adolescence in Disney and Nickelodeon Sitcoms. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019.

Projansky, Sarah. “Mass Magazine Cover Girls.” In Interrogating Postfeminism, October 12, 2007, 40–72. (

Pugh, Allison J. Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

Ringrose, Jessica, and Emma Renold. “Normative Cruelties and Gender Deviants: The Performative Effects of Bully Discourses for Girls and Boys in School.” British Educational Research Journal 36, no. 4 (August 2010): 573–96. (

Romano, Allison. “Tween and Mean: Nick and Disney Slug it out to Score with the Lucrative 9-14 Demographic.” Broadcasting & Cable 17 (2004).

Rysst, Mari. “Friendship and Gender Identity among Girls in a Multicultural Setting in Oslo.” Childhood 22, no. 4 (September 11, 2015): 490–505. (

Taft, Jessica K. Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change across the Americas. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

Tasker, Yvonne, and Diane Negra. Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Tracy, Sally K. Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

Ward, Jane Victoria, and Beth Cooper Benjamin. “Women, Girls, and the Unfinished Work of Connection: A Critical Review of American Girls Studies.” In All about the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity. Edited by Anita Harris, 15-28. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Wiseman, Rosalind. Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.


  1. See Morgan Genevieve Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds?” Feminist Media Studies 13, no. 4 (September 2013): 660–75; Morgan Genevieve Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel: Branding, Celebrity, and Femininity (New York: Routledge, 2017); Cynthia Mauer, “Tween Girls’ Use of Television to Navigate Friendship,” Girlhood Studies 11, no. 1 (January 1, 2018); Patrice A. Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS : Gender and Adolescence in Disney and Nickelodeon Sitcoms (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2019). ↩︎

  2. Maurer, “Tween Girls.” ↩︎

  3. Catherine Driscoll, Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture and Cultural Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002). ↩︎

  4. Brandon, Katz, “ ‘Girl Meets World’ Cancelled By Disney, But Why?” Forbes, Jan. 5, 2017. ( ↩︎

  5. Linda Beail, Lindsey Lupo, and Caroline Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo’: Doubled and Divided Representations of Postfeminist Girlhood on the Disney Channel,” Visual Inquiry 7, no. 2 (June 1, 2018): 125–40. ↩︎

  6. See Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo’ ”; Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  7. Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds.” ↩︎

  8. Rick Kissell, “Variety.” Variety, December 30, 2015. ↩︎

  9. Allison Romano, “Tween and Mean: Nick and Disney Slug it out to Score with the Lucrative 9-14 Demographic.” Broadcasting & Cable 17 (2004). ↩︎

  10. Nancy A Jennings, Tween Girls and Their Mediated Friends (New York: Peter Lang, 2014). ↩︎

  11. Allison J. Pugh, Longing and Belonging: Parents, Children, and Consumer Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009). ↩︎

  12. JoEllen Fisherkeller, “Everyday Learning about Identities among Young Adolescents in Television Culture,” Anthropology Education Quarterly 28, no. 4 (December 1997): 467–92. ↩︎

  13. Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds,” 42. ↩︎

  14. Jennings, “Tween Girls.” ↩︎

  15. Bradford B. Brown and Christa Klute, “Friendships, Cliques, and Crowds,” in Handbook of Adolescence, eds. G.R. Adams and M.D. Berzonsky (Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2003), 330–48. ↩︎

  16. Jennings, “Tween Girls.” ↩︎

  17. John Fiske, Television Culture (London: Routledge, 2002). ↩︎

  18. Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, translated by. H.M. Parshley (New York: Randomhouse-Vintage, 1974), 301. ↩︎

  19. Driscoll, Girls↩︎

  20. Pam Bettis and Mary F. Roe, “Reading Girls: Living Literate and Powerful Lives,” RMLE Online 32, no. 1 (January 2008): 1–18. ↩︎

  21. Marion Brown, “The Sad, the Mad, and the Bad: Co-existing Discourses of Girlhood,” Child
    Youth Care Forum
    , 40, 107-140, 2011. ↩︎

  22. Sinikka Aapola, Marnina Gonick, Anita Harris, and Jo Campling, Young Femininity: Girlhood, Power and Social Change (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). ↩︎

  23. Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds,” 24. ↩︎

  24. Kirsty Fairclough, “Fame is a Losing Game: Celebrity Gossip Blogging, Bitch Culture and Postfeminism,” Genders 48, no. 1 (2008). ↩︎

  25. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  26. Angela McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change (London: Sage, 2009). ↩︎

  27. See McRobbie, “Post‐feminism and Popular Culture”; McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism; Yvonne Tasker and Diane Negra, Interrogating Postfeminism: Gender and the Politics of Popular Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007); Gill, “From Sexual Objectification”; Gill, Gender and the Media (Malden: Polity Press, 2007); Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds.” ↩︎

  28. Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds”; Jane Gerhard, “Sex and the City,” Feminist Media Studies 5, no. 1 (March 2005): 37–49; Gill, “From Sexual Objectification.” ↩︎

  29. Catharine A. Mackinnon, Feminism Unmodified: Discourses on Life and Law (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987). ↩︎

  30. Gill, “From Sexual Objectification”; McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism; Jessica Ringrose and Emma Renold, “Normative Cruelties and Gender Deviants: The Performative Effects of Bully Discourses for Girls and Boys in School,” British Educational Research Journal 36, no. 4 (August 2010): 573–96. ↩︎

  31. McRobbie, “Post-Feminism and Popular Culture”; McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism↩︎

  32. Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1990). ↩︎

  33. Amy Shields Dobson, Postfeminist Digital Cultures (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). ↩︎

  34. Dobson, Postfeminist Digital Cultures↩︎

  35. Alison Horbury, “Post-Feminist Impasses in Popular Heroine Television,” Continuum 28, no. 2 (March 4, 2014), 221. ↩︎

  36. Driscoll, Girls; Gill, “From Sexual Objectification”; Gill, Gender and the Media; McRobbie, “Post-feminism and Popular Culture”; McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism; Jessica K Taft, Rebel Girls: Youth Activism and Social Change across the Americas (New York: New York University Press, 2011). ↩︎

  37. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  38. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  39. Mauer, “Tween Girls.” ↩︎

  40. Brown and Klute, “Friendships, Cliques, and Crowds”; William A. Corsaro, “Qualitative Research on Children’s Peer Relations in Cultural Context,” in Peer Relationships in Cultural Context, edited by Xinyin Chen, Doran C. French, and Barry H. Schneider (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 96–120; Mary E Gifford-Smith and Celia A. Brownell, “Childhood Peer Relationships: Social Acceptance, Friendships, and Peer Networks,” Journal of School Psychology 41, no. 4 (July 2003): 235–84; Humera Iqbal, Sarah Neal, and Carol Vincent, “Children’s Friendships in Super-Diverse Localities: Encounters with Social and Ethnic Difference,” Childhood 24, no. 1 (July 24, 2017): 128–42; MacDonald, “Negotiations of Identity”; Mari Rysst, “Friendship and Gender Identity among Girls in a Multicultural Setting in Oslo,” Childhood 22, no. 4 (September 11, 2015): 490–505. ↩︎

  41. Robert B Hays, “The Development and Maintenance of Friendship,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1, no. 1 (March 1984): 75–98. ↩︎

  42. Gifford-Smith, “Childhood Peer Relationships”; MacDonald, “Negotiations of Identity.” ↩︎

  43. Christopher C. Henrich, Gabriel P. Kuperminc, Amy Sack, Sidney J. Blatt, and Bonnie J. Leadbeater, “Characteristics and Homogeneity of Early Adolescent Friendship Groups: A Comparison of Male and Female Clique and Nonclique Members,” Applied Developmental Science 4, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 15–26. ↩︎

  44. Aapola, Gonick, Harris, and Campling. Young Femininity; Behm-Morawitz and Mastro, “Mean Girls?”. ↩︎

  45. Matthew B. Miles and Michael A Huberman, Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2009). ↩︎

  46. Miles and Huberman, Qualitative Data Analysis, 4. ↩︎

  47. Beail, Lupo and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo’ ”; Blue, “Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  48. Virginia Braun, and Victoria Clarke, “Using Thematic Analysis in Psychology,” Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, no. 2 (2006): 77–101; Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  49. Alan McKee, Textual Analysis: A Beginner’s Guide (London: Sage Publications, 2003). ↩︎

  50. Maurer, “Tween Girls,” 26. ↩︎

  51. Jonathan Potter, “Discourse Analysis and Constructionist Approaches: Theoretical Background,” in Handbook of qualitative research methods for psychology and the social sciences, Ed. John T.E. Richardson (Leicester: BPS Books, 1996). ↩︎

  52. Sally K. Tracy, Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013). ↩︎

  53. Potter, “Discourse Analysis.” ↩︎

  54. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  55. Driscoll, Girls; McRobbie, “Post-feminism and Popular Culture”; McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism↩︎

  56. Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  57. Temple Northup and Carol M. Liebler, “The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful,” Journal of Children and Media 4, no. 3 (July 14, 2010): 265–82. ↩︎

  58. Dennis Attick, “Images of Teachers: Disney Channel Sitcoms and Teachers as Spectacle,” Counterpoints 477 (2016): 137–47. ↩︎

  59. Braun and Clark, “Using Thematic Analysis”; Opplinger, TWEENCOM Girls↩︎

  60. Tracy, Qualitative Research Methods↩︎

  61. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo’ ”; Blue, “Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney; Oppliger, TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  62. Hays, “The Development and Maintenance of Friendship.” ↩︎

  63. Behm-Morawitz and Mastro, “Mean Girls?”; Blue, “The Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Mikel Lyn Brown, Girlfighting: Betrayal and Rejection among Girls (NYU Press, 2003); Rosalind Wiseman, Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002). ↩︎

  64. Jane Victoria Ward and Beth Cooper Benjamin, “Women, Girls, and the Unfinished Work of Connection: A Critical Review of American Girls Studies,” in All about the Girl: Culture, Power, and Identity, ed. Anita Harris (New York: Routledge, 2004), 15-28. ↩︎

  65. Blue, “Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Wiseman, Queen Bees↩︎

  66. Aapola et al., Young Femininity↩︎

  67. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  68. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo,’” 128. ↩︎

  69. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo,’” 128. ↩︎

  70. Diane Negra, What a Girl Wants?: Fantasizing the Reclamation of Self in Postfeminism (London: Routledge, 2009). ↩︎

  71. Driscoll, Girls↩︎

  72. McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism↩︎

  73. Mikel Brown, Girlfighting, 185. ↩︎

  74. Gifford-Smith and Brownell, “Childhood Peer Relationships.” ↩︎

  75. Sarah Projansky, “Mass Magazine Cover Girls,” in Interrogating Postfeminism, October 12, 2007, 40–72. ↩︎

  76. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo’ ”; Blue, “Best of Both Worlds”; Blue, Girlhood on Disney Channel; Melanie Kenned, “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: ‘Becoming’ a Woman, ‘Becoming’ a Star.” Celebrity Studies 5, no. 3 (April 2014): 225–41; Mauer, “Tween Girls”; Oppliger. TWEENCOM GIRLS↩︎

  77. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

  78. Beail, Lupo, and Beail, “ ‘Better in Stereo.’” ↩︎

About the Author: 

Daniel Sipocz is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Berry College, a small liberal arts college in Northwest Georgia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern Mississippi. His research focuses on the representation of women and minorities in popular culture and sports media.

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