Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture






1-13 pp.


Ultimately, this paper stems from two cultural strands which intersect in one cultural form, self-improvement advertising aimed at men. The first of these is the figure of the "new man," which appeared in the mid-1980s. The novelty lies in the positioning of masculine bodies precisely for the purpose of being seen. The available criticism was not equipped to account for these positionings. The second cultural strand, the proliferation of technologies which alter the body itself, as opposed to its coverings, makes the gap in the criticism more apparent. The two cultural trends intersect most noticeably in the advertisements for the products and procedures aimed at enhancing the bodily sense of masculinity. Product plugs and placements not only reflect societal trends, their entire purpose is to convince consumers that they "need" the good or service portrayed. Thus, the advertisements examined must be considered as an important part of the modern normalizing machinery of power, in general, and especially as it functions to reproduce gender-relations. While this has become a critical commonplace in terms of the impact on the perception and production of femininity, the representations of contemporary men in body enhancement advertisements demonstrate the ways in which idealized masculinities are portrayed and even enforced.


© Marc Ouellette. Posted with permission of the author.

Original Publication Citation

Ouellette, M. (2002). " See me, touch me, feel me":(Im) proving the bodily sense of masculinity. Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 2(4).