The Male Body as Advertisement

Masculinities in Hispanic Media

by Juan Rey (Volume editor)
©2015 Monographs VI, 160 Pages
Series: Masculinity Studies, Volume 5


The Male Body as Advertisement: Masculinities in Hispanic Media offers a multidisciplinary view of the body of men, of its practices and attributes, of its features, and, most importantly, of its use as a persuasive and expressive resource. Just as it occurred with the female body, the male body has become an object of desire in some instances and an object of expression in others.
This collection of essays represents several developments in the field of communication studies. It is the first time that a study on the body of men in the Hispanic media has been carried out using film, television, internet, billboards, and so forth. This book also equates men to women in the media world. Lacking its own tradition, the male body has followed in the footsteps of the female body. It has been objectified, stylized, and transformed into a weapon of persuasion to reach the modern man.
The Male Body as Advertisement can be useful for students of communication, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, and cultural studies. It will serve graduate students as a bibliographic reference for research on the male body as well as undergraduate students whose programs address issues related to gender studies. This work is also written to reach a wider audience beyond the university.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editor
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Much more than Bodies
  • I Cultural Bodies
  • 1. Mythical Bodies: Masculine Archetypes of Classical Mythology in Advertising
  • 2. Naked Bodies, Clothed Bodies: Images of the Representation of the Other in the Context of the American Continent
  • 3. Dominant (and Dominated) Bodies: The Corporal Representation of Masculine Domination in Advertising
  • II Beautiful Bodies
  • 4. Body and Beauty: The Cult of the Male Body in the Printed Press
  • 5. Obsessed Bodies: Influence of Advertising Male Models on Bigorexia
  • 6. Consumption Bodies: Cult and Virtual Representation of Male Identity in Chile
  • 7. Body of Desire: Homoerotic Representation in Mexican Cable Television
  • III Political Bodies
  • 8. Combat Bodies: The Male Body in the Republican Posters of the Spanish Civil War
  • 9. Body and Dictatorship: Masculinity in Post-War Spanish Cinema as Expression of Francoism
  • 10. Bodies to Vote: The Representation of the Political Candidate in the Election Campaigns
  • IV Spectacular Bodies
  • 11. Body Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Body, Identity and Stardom in David Bowie
  • 12. Translated Bodies: The Hyper-Ritualization in the Representation of the Male Body among Spanish Youth in Social Networking Sites
  • Conclusion
  • Different Bodies, Different Men
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Series index

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Introduction ← 1 | 2 →

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Much more than Bodies


In developed societies, the human body has become an object charged with meaning, a mere support of man, which, as if it were a hanger, allows man to hang values, desires, aspirations, and dreams upon it. In this process of iconization, technological advances also play a role. Man needed to be able to contemplate himself from the outside, to be able to transform his body into an image alien to himself. Until the early twentieth century, man could contemplate himself in a portrait, to which only the affluent elite had access, or by looking at himself in a mirror, a device that had a limited social scope and also, which was usually very small. Man could not see his entire body, but only fragments that the mirror reflected. The birth of photography allowed man to acknowledge his body as an object alien to himself, for photography returned it as if it were someone else’s body. Film followed, and then came video, mobile phones, tablets, internet, WhatsApp, etc. The democratization of technological objects allowed man to contemplate his own body as if it were that of a stranger. During the last century, the body has become a commodity through which man exchanges values and symbols. While Western man has always used the human body as a symbolic representation (e.g. the Greek canon, Catholic imagery, or the American movie star system), it has been during modern times that this process has reached its peak, due to the iconic democratization brought about by technological development. To this concern with the body as an image to be cared for and nurtured, since the meaning communicated or perceived depends on it, an interest for analyzing the body has emerged. Currently, there are numerous studies focused on the body. While this book is one more, it presents a novelty: the study of the male body as covered in the various mass media throughout the Hispanic world.

In terms of content, the book is organized into four sections. The first section (Cultural Bodies), analyzes the body as a cultural construct, its evolution and perception over time. In this sense, in the chapter “Mythical ← 3 | 4 → Bodies,” PhD Lozano Delmar and PhD scholar Rubio Hernández examine the existing relations between male archetypes and classical mythology in advertising. In massive language output, media discourse reproduces and reenacts archetypes and motifs that have been present in cultural tradition for centuries and whose source is classical mythology. Advertising presents a close relationship with the mythical language, based on its narrative and persuasive nature. Taking this into account along with the influence of classical mythology in Western culture, it is not surprising that allusions to these items are made when constructing effective messages to connect with the target audience. The representation of the male body in advertising is one of the aspects which refers to mythical constructions, since they reproduce the models of masculinity that already appear in the stories of Antiquity. Thus, the body of models is shown as an object of admiration, represented in an idealized form, as if it were that of a hero or a god. This chapter explores the way in which the representation of the male body in the advertising message is a reference to the male figures that make up the Olympic Pantheon, in such a way that a series of categories can be established according to the archetypes already present in classical mythology and its advertising equivalent today.

In the chapter “Naked Bodies, Clothed Bodies,” PhD Ramírez Alvarado studies the iconic creation of the body of the first inhabitants of the West Indies. In 1493, the illustration Hispanic Island that circulated around Europe, for the first time, illustrated the indigenous Americans, in this case as the front page of a written letter by Christopher Columbus. This woodcarving shows the naked bodies of the inhabitants—docile and without malice—of the New World. Afterwards, the images started changing and giving accounts of themes that started to appear in the articles: the wild cannibals, their disordered sexual conduct, or the fantastic beings that appeared in any bend of tropical greenery. Much later, the nakedness of the aborigines started to be covered with feathered skirts that they created, more than a real element, a stylistic resource of the artists to avoid the nuisance of representing nakedness. These images of clothed aborigines with skirts spread in Europe, took a new turn, and returned strengthened to America. And there established such a way that the same Creole artists of previous centuries ended giving life to the indigenous ancestors wearing some skirts that in reality they didn’t use. This article deals with how they prepared the primary images of an unknown reality and of their inhabitants, specifically how they produced and spread the primary representations of the indigenous Americans that circulated in Europe.

In the chapter “Dominant (and Dominated) Bodies,” PhD Garrido-Lora investigates the bodily representation of male domination in advertising. Gender Studies have paid special attention to the representation of women in ← 4 | 5 → advertising discourse, almost always under the premise of the sexist nature of advertising. Quite contrary is the scarce number of studies, which address the role of men in this setting. This chapter analyzes the representation of male domination in advertising discourse, focusing on the body as the key of representation. This approach compares current commercials to those of decades past in order to discover the evolution of the representation of the male body, its active involvement in the processes of domination (or submission), and the role that the female body assumes when in dialogue with the masculine counterpart. The study also analyzes intragender domination, that is, that of those commercial in which the processes of domination (and fight) take place among men. A section is also devoted to the analysis of those advertising messages in which domination is no longer structural or implicit, but has become explicit and openly aggressive. On the whole, the study concludes that the male body is an active assistant in the representation of the processes of inter and intragender domination.


VI, 160
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (August)
Mythical Body Representation Male models Campaings
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 168 pp.

Biographical notes

Juan Rey (Volume editor)

Juan Rey is a tenured professor in the Communication Studies Department at the University of Seville, Spain. He prepared his doctoral thesis «The representation of masculinity in advertising discourse» in the School of Social Communications at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, and presented it at the University of Seville, where he obtained the PhD Extraordinary Prize for his thesis. He also received a PhD in Spanish language and literature with a thesis on Manuel María del Mármol, which won the prestigious Focus Humanities Award. Rey has published widely on topics related to men and advertising, including his most recent books The Feigned Man and Advertising and Society: A Round Trip. He has lectured widely and has been a visiting professor in Italy, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, and Argentina.


Title: The Male Body as Advertisement
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170 pages