Blue is for boys: postfeminist continuations of gender, body and hue in UK magazines, 2009–2018

Wigley, Edward and Dornelles, Vevila R. C. (2021). Blue is for boys: postfeminist continuations of gender, body and hue in UK magazines, 2009–2018. Gender, Place & Culture (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0966369X.2021.1891864

Abstract

From 2009 to 2018, social attitudes towards gender in the UK and other western countries significantly shifted, with greater awareness of gender stereotyping and the objectification of women’s bodies in the media due to popular social media campaigns. Arguably, postfeminism has provided a channel in which tropes traditionally critiqued by feminism, such as the objectification or stereotyping of the female body, are appropriated by consumption, and reconceptualised as empowering forms of femininity. In two phases, this study explores if and how this social shift has been translated into how men and women’s bodies are presented to male and female audiences, respectively, by magazines that claim to represent and reflect them. Firstly, content of the front covers from six popular men’s and women’s magazines was analysed to identify the framing, clothing, and staging of the body. A second phase adds further novelty to this study by employing a cultural analytics approach to explore the relationship between gender and hue by analysing the brightness, saturation and hue values of each image. The findings show some continuities in how men and women are presented, despite significant changes in which magazines presented these continuities. Furthermore, the colour attributes of the images underlined significant differences in how men and women are presented for viewing. It is argued that these continuities and changes represent a reinforcement of patriarchal gendered relations (including gendered associations with specific colours) re-imagined through a postfeminist logic.

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