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Living Large: Exploring Advertising Themes In Muscle & Fitness Magazine Between 1987 And 2008.

4852 words - 19 pages

"Remember that everybody starts somewhere, we all start skinny or fat or somewhere in between. But, basically we don't like the way we look now. Then you have the choice to do something about it. That's what the Weider System is all about, getting that body you want. So get off your can, and let's do it right now!"-Lee Labrada on Joe Weider, Founder ofMuscle and Fitness MagazineIntroductionFitness magazines can reflect society's ideals of the "perfect" body for both men and women. How big should your muscles be? Which Muscles should be large and which ones should be more defined? Which products will facilitate the achievement of these goals? In a society where our interest lays in fast improvements to one's body image, these are all questions that advertisements will address when trying to sell their products to people eager for the "quick fix".This paper presents an historical content analysis of the advertisements found in Muscle and Fitness magazine. We will provide sample advertisements taken from Muscle and Fitness that reflect a comparison of two magazine issues; one from 1987 and one from 2008. A variety of issues are examined in our analyses. These include: Are there any differences in the type of advertisements? Have the body image ideals changed from 1987? What kind of people are these advertisements targeting? A sub-analysis approach will be used to apply these questions to three categories we have assigned to the advertisements. The categories are: dietary supplements, equipment, and education. Furthermore, our study will address these questions using a qualitative sociological approach. This paper is broken down into four sections: theoretical underpinnings, methods, findings (descriptive and textual), and discussion of the findings.Theoretical UnderpinningsReading the muscular body: A Critical Decoding of Advertisements in Flex MagazineWhite and Gillet argue that bodybuilding is a response to a "crisis in masculinity". Men feel powerless and unsure of themselves due to the disparity between masculine traits they are expected to uphold and the social realities of daily life. White and Gillet analyze typical advertisements found in Flex, another popular bodybuilding magazine. Their analysis focuses on how bodybuilding discourses address the erosion of power felt by many men, and how bodybuilding practices are represented in the advertisements as a means of self-transformation. They conclude that the advertisements in Flex magazine serve to continuously renew and recuperate a dominance-based notion of masculinity. Along with this message, the advertisements also naturalize the desirability of male muscularity-producing the message that, "the larger, more muscular male body is biologically superior to the lesser female body" (White & Gillet, 1992: 33).Playing with fire: Masculinity, Healthy, and Sports Supplements by Michael Atkinson explores how a group of Canadian men connect the consumption of sports supplements to the pursuit of...

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