Advertising manhood: a critical look at images of the male body in advertisements and their potential effects on boys' self- perception

AutorLinda Palfreeman - Mónica Belda Torrijos
Advertising manhood: a critical look
at images of the male body in
advertisements and their potential
effects on boys’ self-perception
Dr. Linda Palfreeman
Profesora, University CEU Cardenal Herrera
Dr Mónica Belda Torrijos
Profesora, University CEU Cardenal Herrera
There exists an unquestionable relationship between media, gender and the construction of
identity. Today’s adolescents are influenced by the imagery gleaned from the wide and
increasing variety of media at their disposal. It is, therefore, important that we be aware of the
exact nature of that imagery.
Whilst there exists much documented research on the representation of women in advertising,
there is still comparatively little discussion of the portrayal of men.
Traditionally, it was the woman who was used to promote a wide array of products as,
traditionally, it was she who was responsible for the care of the home, her husband and her
children. It was she who did the shopping, the cooking and the cleaning whilst men were
executives, cowboys or aeroplane pilots. Men were strong, independent, decisive and aggressive
whilst their female counterparts were weak, dependent, dithering and submissive. But things
have changed. Men have changed… or, at least, that’s what the ads would have us believe.
The mythical ‘new man’ who emerges from recent advertisements is a successful professional,
powerful and sure of himself, a strong yet compassionate partner and a caring father. He takes
great care of his image and his physical appearance. He shops frequently for clothes, is a regular
consumer of cosmetics and is prepared to spend more than £5 on a haircut. Man as object is born.
Linda Palfreeman Mónica Belda Torrijos
The present study takes a closer look at some of the advertisements in question and highlights
some of the possible repercussions of this latest trend.
Key words
Advertising, masculinity, gender, identity-construction, self-perception

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