Tag Archives: gender identity

A Metrosexual Christmas?

BiothermMetrosexual icons such as David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo have inspired a new generation of men to spruce up their act and embrace the ever-growing range of grooming products designed with men in mind. Many of these products as likely to feature in style magazines, newspapers, on television and billboards, in the run up to Christmas. With retailers expecting sales to be brisker than last year (Centre for Retail Research, 2009), one might also expect the market for men’s grooming products to follow suit. However, although Mintel (2007) estimated the overall market size for men’s grooming products was a good-looking £806m, it still continued to exhibit unfulfilled potential.

The slow uptake of these products seems to be because of the continued identification of grooming and self-presentation practices with women and femininity. Harrison’s (2008) visual semiotic analysis of male cosmetics advertised online by Studio5ive found that the organisation reframed mascara and eyeliner in masculine ways (‘manscara’; ‘guy-liner’) in order to distinguish it from women’s products. Those men who actively engaged with such products, risked being critiqued and rejected as non-masculine (hence accusations of homosexuality, effeminacy and narcissism) and so tended to invoke conventional masculinity signifiers (e.g. heterosexual prowess, self-respect etc.) in order to justify their consumption (Hall, 2009). The apparent difficulty men face in enjoying such hitherto feminine identity products shows how more conventional or ‘hegemonic masculinities’ (see: Connell, 1995; Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005) still remain culturally available and are likely to influence men’s (and women’s) consumption patterns this Christmas.

square-eyeAnalysing Discursive Constructions of ‘Metrosexual’ Masculinity Online: ‘What does it matter, anyway?’

square-eyeThe Journal of Popular Culture

square-eyeMen’s Grooming Habits – UK – March 2007

square-eyeUK Christmas retail sales to rise 1.9 pct

The Super Scooby: ‘You have to be a real man to eat one.’

scooby burgerIt is widely regarded that a healthy diet protects against major illness. Men on the whole however, are not given to healthy eating and lifestyle practices, although recent reports from the Department for Health (2009) suggest men’s health awareness is beginning to change.

One reason for men’s slow up-take of a healthy lifestyle and eating practices is the meanings men attach to food and the relationship between diet and health (Gough, 2007). Historically, diet and the concern with healthy eating have been associated with feminised ideals and practices which centre on consumption, health and embodiment (Gill, Henwood & McLean, 2005). These associations put pressure on men to conform to conventional masculine identity projects with their disinterest in health and appearance. The recent launch of the Super Scooby provides an interesting example of how masculine ideals can absolve men from changing their health-defeating ways.

The Metro’s article about the ‘Super Scooby’ with its ‘artery-busting 2,645 calories’ draws on conventional masculine identity markers, which allow men to engage unproblematically in eating the unhealthy meal. For example the ‘Super Scooby’ is offered to ‘real men’ who are willing to take up the challenge to ‘beat the (as yet unbeaten) beast’. Indeed, the ‘Super Scooby’ provides a man-size portion of meat with its eight rashers of bacon and four burgers (Gough 2007). Irony and humour (see Benwell, 2004) are also frequently used to mock health concerns associated with eating the burger ‘health concerns haven’t been completely ignored – the monster burger contains some salad. It boasts two lettuce leaves and six slices of tomato… accounting for all of 29 calories’.

square-eyeSuper Scooby is UK’s ‘biggest burger’

square-eyeThe beer talking: four lads, a carry out and the reproduction of masculinities

square-eye‘Real men don’t diet’: An analysis of contemporary newspaper representations of men, food and health

square-eyeNew stats reveal England’s calorific alcohol intake

square-eyeConcerns about health and looks are driving thousands to cut back on alcohol