Monday, December 17, 2007

"Absolute World" Magazine

Disclaimer: This magazine is a fabrication of a male magazine. We attempted to spin the gender stereotypes to exemplify and satirize how women are typically portrayed by the media and in magazines. This was not an attempt to make fun of men in any way. Here is our creation.

Table Of Contents
Cover Stories
  • Real Life: My Penis will Never be the Same
  • Diary of a Shy Male Model: Memoirs of Matt Sour, MODEL
  • Diet Myths: Exposed

Real Life: My Penis will Never be the Same
By: Richard Seaton

Ever since I was younger, I have been self conscious about the size of my penis. The worst time of the day in high school would be coming in from gym class and having to “hit the showers” with all the guys in my class. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is this it? Will it ever grow?” My life got worse when I came to college and met a girl that I really liked. One night when we got intimate, I took off my pants and she put hers back on. I was mortified. Since then, I have been very selective as to who I have exposed myself to, both physically and emotionally. Most girls have laughed at the size of my penis, or made excuses to take themselves out of sexual situations with me. I thought my luck had changed when I met Jessica.* I had just graduated college and was working for a small publishing firm in the city. She was everything I could have wanted in a girl: beautiful, intelligent and passionate. We dated for nearly a year, until I exposed her to my embarrassing secret. Before we got intimate, I explained my history with other girls and the problems that had arisen from our sexual encounters. Being a nurse at a doctor’s office, she explained to me that even though she would always love me for who I was, she knew of some medical procedures that could help me increase the size of my penis and change my life forever. There are two different widely used implant surgeries that are commonly suggested to men with impotency problems. However, there have also been cases, similar to mine, where men get one of these two surgeries to increase the size of the penis. The first implant that she explained was an implant of an inflatable device that could be manually inflated to create an erection and deflated at other times. The second type of implant is called a semirigid implant, which although less expensive, is less commonly used because it is more stiff an thus puts more constant pressure on the inside of the penis.

After setting up a consultation with Doctor Snipper that was recommended by Jessica’s office, I opted for the inflatable implants because they are more natural. The next week was one of the most uncomfortable times in my life, but I thought it would all be over soon and I would, for once in my life, feel normal. The surgery went relatively well, but the recovery was painful and exhausting. For a year, I felt more manly than I have ever felt before. Then, all of a sudden, I started to have pains in my penis. I went back to the doctor, where he conducted X-rays and tests that revealed the complications that resulted from my surgery. The doctor had placed the implants in backwards. The incorrect placement of the implants caused pressure necrosis, or the death of tissue due to loss of blood supply to the cells. The damage was irreversible and the implant had to be removed. He also had to amputate the tip of my penis. Currently, I am awaiting my trial against Doctor Snipper for his negligence in conducting my surgery. Although only 5% of men that have this surgery have horror stories like mine, the risk of having part of your penis amputated is reason enough to reconsider your self image and think long and hard before you decide to participate in a procedure like this. My life has been changed forever, and not in the way I anticipated. Half of my penis was cut off and through all of this, Jessica left me. My life will never be the same again.
*Names have been changed

From the Memoirs of Matt Sour, MODEL
“I’m really a shy guy, but I take my clothing off for money and fame”
Everyone always said I was photogenic when I was growing up and that if I modeled, I would be worth a million bucks. I never even thought about the fact that I could make it a career. After failing out of college, I decided to take their advice. If I couldn’t make it for my brains, then maybe beauty was the way to go. I rented the first two seasons of America’s Next Top Model and took as many notes as I could. Granted, some of the information that I learned was not applicable to a male model, but most of it made sense.
I emailed back and forth with an agent from a top modeling firm. It had taken almost a month for him to respond to my initial email. He was impressed with the snapshots that I had sent him and requested a meeting with me. His first words to me were, “You are so glamour.” I took a step back immediately, a little scared. I knew what glamour modeling entailed. It was the kind of modeling that appeared in high fashion magazines and in advertisements. It also required modeling in compromising positions with female models. I know I am good looking, but the idea of posing with girls scares the hell out of me. My thoughts were racing…. I act like a fool around females. I had banked on runway modeling or even commercial modeling being what I was suitable for. It was going to be very difficult for me to break out of my shell, but it was what I would need to do in order to make it in this business.
My first photo shoot was an emotional disaster. It was for an up and coming high fashion designer whose ad would appear in all the hot magazines. I was to pose in only my underwear. It was hard to deal with only being in my underwear, but I kept telling myself it was a little less than a normal bathing suit. What made it so hard was the fact that there was an extremely famous female model straddling my waist in only underwear as well, no bra. We had to stare into each others eyes and I had to hold her up against the wall using my arms only. It was physically demanding, but not knowing the female and being in such a compromising position was strange. I felt embarrassed about myself at that point. It was an experience that made me feel a little cheap and that my only life skill was being beautiful.
I still feel a mixture of guilt and self-consciousness about being paid for doing something that not only made me uncomfortable and put me in compromising positions, but that I was getting paid a ridiculous amount of money for it. It felt like prostitution almost, the way I was exposing myself for fame. Is it really fair that I take my clothing off and get paid so much? Probably not… I will admit, I do it for the money and the fame. It does not feel great to be only known or beauty, but it provides a comfortable life style. That matters most in life to me. I still act horribly awkward in front of the female models and I most definitely embarrass myself a lot by doing stupid things, but each shoot it gets a little easier, and I get a little richer…

Diet Myths: Exposed
by Nate Haggy

Okay, fellas. The holidays are quickly approaching and Santa's on his way! But we all know he's not the only fatty blob that hangs around during the month of December. Yep, that's right. The pounds are comin to town!
And what are YOU going to do about it? I'm here to help!
Even for the manliest men who want to lose that flub and really mean it, the following diet myths are thrown in their faces over and over again. My mission is to help set the record straight.

So come on boys, 86 the egg nog and leave the cookies to Santa, because HERE.. are the hottest diet myths, exposed.

Diet Myth 1: f you eat late at night, the food turns straight into fat.
Not true. You can certainly snickity snack after dinnertime, just be sure to keep your overall calories under what is appropriate for your weight . Late night calories will get used eventually, yet for the sake of energy, it might be better to eat your calories during the day when your body needs the fuel. Plus, eating consistently throughout the day will stabilize blood sugar levels, so you’ll feel energized and experience fewer cravings. If you are going to snack after hours, I suggest choosing something nutritious and with 250 calories or less. A banana or handful of nuts anyone?

Det Myth 2: Fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than frozen.
Not necessarily. Frozen can be a fabulous option for produce - just avoid varieties with added salt, sugar and sauce. Most people don't realize it but frozen foods are ideal because they are picked at peak ripeness and because most of the nutrients stay locked in. The main downfall in walking down the frozen food aisle is that the fruit and vegetables available there not nearly enough nutrient variability like their fresh counterparts do. Bottom line boys: Buy both fresh and frozen and eat as munch as you can.

Diet Myth 3: Cravings are your body's way of telling you it needs something.
Who proved that?! Cravings are your body's way of telling you it needs something.This has never been proven. You normally crave what you like to eat (or smell or see someone else eating). Also, hormonal changes are sometimes responsible for food cravings. Ice cream and pickles anyone?

Diet Myth 4: Water is always better than soda.
Nope! Check those labels! There are some caloric waters out there. With sexy marketing ploys, it's easy to get sucked in. But come on guys, wouldn't you rather eat 10 sugar cubes or a bag of jelly beans than suck the same number of calories down in a couple swigs of Vitamin Water?

Diet Myth 5: Exercise in the morning burns more calories.
Not necessarily! Studies show that people who exercise in the morning tend to be more consistent with their daily workouts, yet the very act of exercising in the a.m. does not actually burn more calories than it does later in the day. Aren't you glad to know that you'd be just as productive in calorie burning, if not more, with an hour of sex before bed than with huffing and puffing on the treadmill the moment you wake up?

Diet Myth 6: Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup can burn fat and make you lose weight.
These are anecdotal stories silly! Where's the scientific back up? It’s true these foods are low in calories, but they do NOT actually burn fat.

Diet Myth 7: You can “save” calories by skipping breakfast.
You bet not boys! Studies report that breakfast eaters weigh less than breakfast skippers. Just make it a healthy breakfast, obvi! So go ahead, grab your banana boys and laugh at those petty Breakfast Skippers, for studies show that they tend to overeat after dinner.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gia: Breaking Free of Hegemony

Once upon a time in a far away land there lived a beautiful young girl named Gia. Gia was no ordinary girl, for she was the prettiest girl in the whole world. Unfortunately, Gia came from a broken home, in which her mother moved out of the house when she was only a girl and dropped out of her life. Gia was raised by her father and brothers and lived a simple life, although she longed for her mother or at least another woman’s influence. Suddenly, one day, Gia’s life changed. She was out with a friend of hers and she was asked to model for a photographer. This was the beginning of the rest of Gia’s life. Soon thereafter Gia had an interview with a very successful modeling agent, Wilhemina Cooper. Wilhemina became like a mother to Gia and transformed her into a supermodel within moments. Gia also rekindled her relationship with her mother during her road to fame and fell in love with a beautiful makeup artist named Linda. Gia had everything she ever could have wanted; a best friend, a lover, fame and her mother back in her life. She was the classic fairytale princess that overcame her own personal obstacles to ascend into stardom. Unfortunately, the tale of the supermodel named Gia was not as picturesque as it may have seemed to an outside observer. Gia strayed so far from this fairytale framework that it cost her her life.

Gia fell into the world of drugs, which eventually led to her demise. Although Gia was able to conceal her drug addiction from the general public for a long time while modeling, eventually the truth came out when she was forced to do a television special in order to be permitted to model again. Many hardships contributed to Gia’s downward spiral. Primarily, the relationship with Gia’s narcissistic mother was a source of great turmoil for the young model. Additionally, the ups and downs of Gia’s secret love affair with Linda severely affected her. Finally, the death of Wilhemina, the only person that Gia truly trusted and had a reciprocal loving relationship with, contributed to her drug abuse. Even though Gia, a seemingly average girl from Philadelphia, did break into the world of fame and beauty and transform it forever, the side effects that this life had on her were not worth the supermodel status that she acquired.

The negative side effects that she experienced can be attributed to the low self esteem that she developed during adolescence due to the absence of her mother. This is a common problem among adolescent girls, especially in situations where an event or unfavorable situation triggers the onset of it (Kilbourne 259). Gia’s low self esteem can be seen throughout the movie. As a supermodel, Gia is simply required to look pretty and sell herself to the audience. For example, when asked to tell her drug addiction story in a television special, she states “I’m a model. I’m not supposed to talk. I’m just supposed to look beautiful” (Cristofer). She knows this is her job because since the beginning of her career, during her first interview with Wilhemina, she is told “talking at all is not really encouraged in this profession, or encouraged at all” (Cristofer). Gia is merely a piece of meat in the modeling industry and she has accepted that role, quite possibly because she does not have the self esteem to see herself as anything more than that. In referring to Gia at a photo shoot, a photographer states “This is meat. This is Sirloin” (Cristofer). To an outsider who was not aware of the reality of Gia’s life, she appeared in pictures to be fierce and powerful; she appeared to represent the new face of the modeling industry, but in reality she was an exposed and vulnerable individual, which is a theme that can be seen throughout many modeling photographs (Kilbourne 264).

Despite her inevitable downfall, many would say that Gia truly lived a fairytale based on the role she played in our hegemonic society. Gia was a beautiful supermodel who was portrayed on the covers of numerous magazines and in the advertisements of many different items. Because of the hegemony in our society, Gia was revered by many people. According to Stuart Hall hegemony is defined as a “framing of all competing definitions of reality within [the dominant class’s] range” (Lull 62). British social theorist, Philip Elliot added to this idea by saying that the effect the mass media has on the public is “how they subtly influence their audiences to perceive social roles and routine personal activities” (Lull 62). Within the power framework set forth, being a supermodel is a prestigious glamorous job, that the average young girl would see as a dream come true. This admiration blinds the average person to the reality behind the alluring face on the magazine cover. Thus, because of this obsession with fame and being a member of the upper echelon of society, many people would see Gia as lucky, and not as a casualty of the modeling industry or the casualty of a young girl being forced to grow up too soon.

Gia did not live happily ever after. Even though Gia’s story seemed to follow the path of a traditional fairytale in our hegemonic society, Gia veered from the path to greatness and her life ultimately ended in tragedy. Gia was a superstar who was on top of the world at one time, but she was also a drug addict who chose heroin over love and a healthy life. Because of these decisions and the hardships that Gia endured as a result of them, Gia should not be seen by anyone as a fairytale princess. In order to break free of these gendered constructs set forth by the hegemonic structure of our society, it is necessary to see Gia’s story for what it truly is, a sad tale of a young girl who struggled with substance abuse and emotional problems. Unfortunately, this notion does not equate to a fairytale even if Gia was the most successful supermodel of her time.


Gia. Dir. Michael Cristofer. Perf. Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Mitchell, Faye Dunaway, Eric
Michael Cole, Mercedes Ruehl. TV Movie, 1998.

Kilbourne, Jean. “The More You Subtract, The More You Add.” Gender, Race and Class
in Media: A Text-Reader. 2nd Ed. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks,
California: Sage, 2003. 258-267.

Lull, James. “Hegemony.” Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. 2nd Ed.
Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 2003. 61-65.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How-to-be-Sexier Sells

“Advertising conventions encourage the consumer to equate the quality of advertising with the quality of the product itself,” (Kirkham and Weller 268). Advertisers use many different ploys and techniques to sell their products. In particular, using sex is one of the most widespread methods. The cliché “sex sells” implies the use of individuals, items or language to inspire sexual connotations. However, advertisements do not have to merely insinuate sexual thoughts or desires to utilize the “sex sells” propaganda, but instead they can use techniques to show that their products will make consumers more attractive or healthy, making them feel more sexy. For example, the advertisements for prestigious clothing designers, make up, hair products and diet foods line the pages of magazines such as Cosmopolitan. These advertisements may not even use something that could be interpreted as sexy, but the products that they are showcasing all can be used to make someone feel or look sexier. Therefore, not only does “sex sell” in advertisement strategies but “how-to-be-sexier sells” in products exhibited.

In my collage, I focused on many different products whose advertisements did not exhibit a blatant use of sex, but instead provided underlying messages of self-improvement or how-to-become-sexier. The advertisements were all geared toward a female audience, although many of them could be seen as items to be used in order to appear sexier to men. According to Wolf, many of these advertisements were based on the beauty myth that is prevalent in our society. The beauty myth is something that defines what is to be considered beautiful based on men (Wolf 122). The beauty myth can be seen through recent phenomenon.

“During the past five years, consumer spending doubled, pornography became the main media category, ahead of legitimate films and records combined, and thirty three thousand American women told researchers that they would rather lose ten to fifteen pounds than achieve any other goal. More women have more money and power and scope and legal recognition than they ever had before; but in terms of how we feel about ourselves physically, we may actually be worse off than our unliberated grandmothers. Recent research consistently shows that inside the majority of the West’s controlled, attractive, successful working women, there is a secret “underlife” poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein or self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control.” (Wolf 120)

Advertisements used in this project provided messages that are congruent with the beauty-obsessed notions presented by the beauty myth. For example, advertisements for products such as Lean Cuisine were found throughout women’s magazines, like Cosmopolitan. Even though these ads did not directly invoke the “sex sells” strategy showing scantily clothed females or depictions equivalent in sexual nature, the product itself implies a way to make one more sexy. The idea of losing weight, as stated by the beauty myth, is a common goal that many women possess to increase their sexiness. Advertisements for makeup also need not exemplify “sex sells” blatantly. According to Kirkham and Weller, “the woman reader can equate the beauty, sexuality, or pleasure she will achieve with the aesthetics and attributes of the product; with the sexuality of the (beautifully photographed) full, red lipstick and the softness of the baby-pink blusher” (271). Therefore, Maybelline eye shadow and Max lip gloss also rely on the beauty myth and rely on the insecurity of the consumers to want to become sexier.

Because of the beauty myth that is running rampant throughout society, advertisements need to use sexual undertones to lead females to desire their products. . Two advertisements that did not explicitly spell out their relationships to the “sex sells” advertising strategy, yet still implied relations to sexiness are the “now available in stiletto” cigarette ad and the “lose excess weight with chocolate” ad. The cigarette ad takes a product that is not usually advertised specifically to women and turns it into somewhat of a sexy symbol. Stilettos carry a sexy connotation with them, so associating a new type of cigarette with a stiletto is a way to make the cigarette seem more appealing. The phone advertisement also uses language to make a sexy association. It uses language to play on the notion of losing weight and being thin to influence one’s decisions on buying a phone. Based on the beauty myth, Verizon is trying to market the phone through incorporating ideas of sexiness.

The “sex sells” marketing strategy is widespread in this country, but the use of less obvious sexual innuendos and products that make someone feel sexy is much more pervasive in society. Advertisements can inspire someone to think of sexy implications even if nothing in the ad represents sex. Certain products, no matter how they are showcased carry with them the how-to-become-sexier idea. These products play off of the beauty myth, defined by Wolf, in which society has already determined what is beautiful and sexy. The cliché of “sex sells” in this country needs to be broadened in incorporate the more subtle sexual undertones or ideas of self improvement in order to make one sexier in order to fully grasp the use of sexuality in advertising.


Kirkham, Pat and Weller, Alex. “Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study.” Gender, Race and

Class in Media: A Text-Reader. 2nd Ed. Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand

Oaks, California: Sage, 2003. 268-273.

Wolf, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth.” Female Beauty. 120-125.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Boy Toys

The market for children's toys is largely dictated by the normative assumptions based on age and gender. Toy stores across the country market different toys to different age groups and genders which can be seen through the ways that the stores divide their inventory. Toy store websites, such as FAO Schwarz and Amazon, classify toys into "boy" and "girl" and offer a wide range of age groups in order to narrow searches for the stereotypical toys to meet the consumers' needs. Although there are some toys that do overlap between the genders, there are specific types of toys that are exclusive to either the "boy" or "girl" category. For example, various board games such as the game of Life appear on both the "boy" and "girl" section of the KB Toys website. However, other toys, such as model cars and Barbie dolls do not overlap ( Many of the toys that fall under the "boy" classification fit into three specific categories: violence, cars and sports in order to mold young boys into what society sees as a typical male.

The ways these toys are divided is largely dependent upon a system of social hierarchies that Lull defines as hegemony. In general terms, hegemony can be defined as the unquestioned and widely accepted power and dominance that stems from social stratification (Lull 61-62). These hierarchies are put in place to determine what is considered to be "normal" by society (Lull 62). In creating classifications that divide the toys available in different stores, the stores are adhering to hegemony. These classifications, along with the strong influence of the mass media provide messages "supportive of the status quo" converge ideologically to constrict children's visions of the toys that they should want (Lull 62).

Toys that have been specifically allotted to the "boy" section of both FAO
Schwarz and include such items as knight action figures, lego cars and spider man footballs. These toys each signify different stereotypes attributed to the normative boy between the ages of 9-11. Action figures, such as the Crusader Knight with Sword on Horse by Schleich found on, signify an interest in violence, aggression and war. The sword that comes with the Crusader Knight is a symbol of war and violence that sends the message to boys that staging battle scenes in the family room is an acceptable activity. Through toys like this Crusader Knight, aggression is advocated and associated with the male gender. The next typical category of toy found in the "boy" section is cars. The Ferrari F1 Fuel Stop by Lego and the Remote Controlled Wild Hopper are two examples of ways in which toy companies produce toys to fit the car section at the toy store ( Cars are associated with the male gender specifically because their mechanical makeup implies a need for maintenance and knowledge of technology and machines. It is unconsciously stressed to boys beginning at a young age that working with one's hands and possessing mechanical skills is important. The idea of working with one's hands is especially implicit in the Ferrari F1 Fuel Stop by Lego because the car is being built by the child.

The third category that falls under the "boy" section is sports. The fact that sporting equipment is typically marketed to boys can in part be described by "an overwhelming relationship between the construction of the masculine identity throughout boyhood and the participation of males in organized sports" (Messner 121). From a young age, because of the social hierarchies explained by Hull, boys are socialized to be interested in sports (Lull 62). In addition to societal pressures, family members, specifically fathers, brothers and uncles encourage young boys to become involved in sports (Messner 124-126). This is an example of "dominant ideological streams" being reproduced by the encouragement of the basic social unit of family (Lull 62). Toy stores feed into the hegemony, along with the "natural" feeling that boys should play sports (Messner 123). An example of this adherence to societal norms is the Hasbro Nerf Weather Blitz Spider-Man 3 Football ( This toy combines the classic assumption of boys' love for super heroes with the encouragement of their love for sports. The Spider-Man 3 Football creates a football that is intended to appeal to a wider audience due to its utilization of a super hero; it is intended to encourage more boys to become interested in sports and engage in athletic activity.

All of these toys are individual examples of the messages that toys attempt to send to their target audiences. The mere fact that toy websites are divided by gender and age is proof that the toy stores have deemed different toys to be more "appropriate" for these groups. Hegemony is applied to the toy industry through stereotypes about the normative child that falls into a given group. Many of the toys marketed to boys between the ages of 9-11 stress aggression and violence through war action figures and violent video games. Some emphasize the importance of mechanical skills and being able to independently construct cars and structures. Others focus on the importance of boys engaging in sports and athletic competition. Although the Spider-Man 3 Football is a perfect example of this, there are other more subtle examples that do not directly emphasize organized sports, but rather exercise in general ( An example of one such toy would be a Razor Scooter ( Even though it is not blatantly trying to push boys into sports, the message that is sent out from the scooter is that boys should be active, and enjoy playing outside. Although all of these toys may seem innocent on face value, each toy is designed to send a message to children. Each of these toys is marketed in a way to emphasize the normative roles that boys should be taking on now and in the future.


Extraordinary toys, girls, and collectibles at FAO Schwarz. FAO Schwarz. 2 October
2007. KB Toys. 1 October 2007

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Gender, Race and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. 2nd Ed.
Gail Dines, Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage, 2003. 61-65.

Messner, Michael A. "Boyhood, Organized Sports, and the Construction of
Masculinities." Gender Socialization. 120-136.

Toys and Games. Amazon. 2 October, 2007.