Expanding The Male Ideal: The Need for Diversity in Men’s Fashion Advertising
Critical Studies in Men’s Fashion
(Special issue on men’s bodies and body image)
2015, 1(3), pp. 275-293
While an emerging stream of scholarship has focused on women’s perceptions of body diversity in fashion advertising, few studies have investigated men’s responses to diverse male models. Interviews with 30 men were conducted to examine how they interpret male models of various sizes, ages and races in fashion advertisements as well as how these models influence their body image and perceptions of the advertisement. Analysis revealed that men identified with models whom they shared physical traits, expressed aversion towards idealized bodies, rejected muscularity as a symbol of masculinity, and wanted to see more diverse models in fashion advertising. Participants expressed body anxiety and negative perceptions of advertisements when they viewed idealized models, whereas they communicated body satisfaction and favourable perceptions of advertising when the models reflected their bodies. Results from this study elucidate how men evaluate and respond to male models in fashion advertising and particularly highlight the influence of viewer – model similarity on men’s responses to models. Menswear brands are advised to cast models that reflect the diversity of their target market in order to foster body confidence and advertising effectiveness.