Analysis Of Susan Bordo's Beauty (Re) Discovers The Male Body

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In Susan Bordo’s essay, “Beauty (Re)Discovers the Male Body,” she discusses the appearance of men in advertisements while simultaneously juxtaposing them to female advertisements. Through the piece, she includes many sample advertisements to develop her point. The photos are placed next to the corresponding sections which help make her argument clearer. She also relates her point to John Berger, as she tries to demystify these advertisements in a similar way he tried to do so about artwork in his essay titled “Ways of Seeing.” Berger demystifies art by suggesting the use of image boards to restore meaning to the paintings, while Bordo works to demystify advertisements by trying to discuss why these male advertisements had started. “Men act …show more content…
In the section, Men on Display, Bordo introduces the way males have been suddenly included in advertisements. She describes her first experience with one of these advertisements as “thrilling and disconcerting” (Bordo 168). She was hypnotized by the image, she made the photo her screensaver so she could “stare at her leisure” (Bordo 168). This is the section where she first mentions the gaze which may appear as something direct, such as just the act of looking. Yet, as the essay develops, the idea of the gaze develops as well. She quotes another philosopher, Simone de Beauvoir, who says “the gaze of another is the ‘hell’ that other people represent” (Bordo 171). There’s this idea that once someone looks upon us, we act differently because we feel embarrassed. Similarly, with clothing, we dress to impress others. How we dress is influenced by the media or by what we see our friends wear as …show more content…
Bordo makes it evident that she hates to refer to these males as “sex objects.” She says, “unlike other objects, they don’t let us use them in the way we like. In fact, they exert a considerable power over us” (Bordo 182). Males in other species establish their dominance through staring. She refers to this staring tactic as “face-off masculinity” (Bordo 184). This expression makes it seem like males have no emotion, which society often defines as a characteristic of males. The two advertisements in this section portray two men in different ways. The first one depicts an African American man standing with hands on his hips and staring, while the other shows a muscular man leaning against a wall with the words “take me” attached. The staring and their toned bodies make them appear masculine, but their postures invite the viewer to think of them as slightly feminine. The appearance is where the consumerism comes in, these advertisements were made to attract straight men and women, but also gay males. These models have qualities of straight males while also having gay qualities. The gay qualities are subtle, so to not scare away the straight males viewing the ad. This homophobia is the reason the advertisements must be delicate; they must work “in a way that the straight consumer will no notice” (Bordo

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