Body Projects and The Regulation of Normative Masculinity

In began by reading Body Projects and The Regulation of Normative Masculinity, Rosalind Gill, Karen Henwood, Carl Mclean, 2005, in which focussed on the interests  in body modification practices such as working out, tattooing, piercing and cosmetic surgery. They explored the significance of this analysis and how it extended beyond the topic of body modifications to a broader set of issues concerned with the nature of men’s embodied identities.

“Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic rise in the visibility of the male body in the media and popular culture. Men’s bodies are on display as never before, from the muscular heroes of the cinematic action genre, to the ‘sixpacks’ who grace the covers of Men’s Health, and the ‘superwaifs’ of contemporary style magazines”

-Tasker, 1993;Edwards, 1997; Nixon,1996

Where once images of women dominated advertising and magazines, increasingly men’s bodies are taking their place alongside women’s on billboards, in fashion photography, and large circulation magazines. Looking back when we looked at visual art history and ways the nude ways viewed by the man,men look at women and women watch themselves being looked at” (Berger, 1972, p.47). The male body in a sence has become an object of the gaze rather than simply the bearer of the look.


A variety of explanations have been put forward to account for this shift in visual culture, variously crediting the gay movement, feminism, the media and  consumerism. While the reasons for it are questioned, there is widespread agreement that a significant change has occurred, in which men’s bodies as bodies have gone from near invisibility to hypervisibility in the course of a decade.

We done some further reading on The Fashioned Self, Joanne Finkelstein, 1991 in which she argues that due to the consumer culture of modern society ideology, “physical appearance has come to be seen as an important means for claiming a degree of statues”. She has gone to explain how painters backing to the 18th and 19th centuries have depicted the subject in ways in which don’t show their imperfections, which prevail in todays media using editing tools such as Photoshop. She further explores this idea by stating by “blurring the distinctions between the image and reality by emphasizing appearances has a substantial influence on how we see one another” and how we interpret these signs and modifications of character is “culturally contingent”.


Interesting video below in which we see how dynamic different countries view standards of beauty in males using photoshop:


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BA (Hons) Final Year Ceramics student at Cardiff Metropolitan University. Love experimenting with material and techniques and work on a range of medium.

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