Gendered bodies: Representations of femininity and masculinity in advertising practices

Lorna Stevens, Jacob Ostberg

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

9 Citations (SciVal)


The specific marketing issue to be discussed in this chapter is representations of gendered images in advertising. As consumers, we are bombarded by thousands of commercial messages every day. There is simply no way to avoid being exposed to advertising, and even if we do not necessarily buy the items that are advertised, advertising serves a number of other important functions, which we may not always be consciously aware of. One of the more important functions of advertising is that it provides us with a blueprint of how to live ‘the good life’. Among other things, it provides us with images of how ‘real’ women and ‘real’ men should be. Often advertisements present us with repeated exposure to representations of men and women which are stereotypical, and these stereotypes give us an implicit assumption of how men and women really are. In particular, we would argue that the different and often opposite ways that men and women are represented might, over time, appear natural and self-evident. While we might be able to critically refl ect on an individual advertisement, analyze it, and discuss its implicit values and unrealistic portrayals, the sheer mass of commercial messages has a way of breaking through the barriers of even the most critically conscious consumers. Consequently, advertising portrayals of gender insinuate

their way into our collective cultural consciousness, even our individual psyches, normalizing certain traits associated with ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’, ‘men’ and ‘women’, and impacting upon how we frame and defi ne gender and sexual difference in contemporary consumer culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarketing Management
Subtitle of host publicationA Cultural Perspective (1st ed.)
EditorsL. Penaloza, N. Toulouse, L. Massimiliano Visconti
Place of PublicationLondon, U. K.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9780203357262
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2011


  • Advertising
  • Body representation
  • Femininity
  • Gender
  • Masculinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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