A Multimodal Analysis of the Representation of Hegemonic Masculinity and Hegemonic Femininity on “Men’s Health” and “Women’s Health” Cover Pages (January 2011 – June 2016)

Nashwa Elyamany


In essence, the goal of this project is to interrogate the multi-semiotic manifestations of hegemonic masculinity and femininity in male and female body culture as manifested on Men’s Health and Women’s Health cover-page corpora that spanned from 2011 to mid- 2016. The research uses a mixed-methods design with macro- and micro-level analysis. On the macro level, a ‘themes’ analysis is conducted to illuminate the ideological nature of the multimodal ensemble of the cover pages. On the micro level, the researcher draws on a trio of analytical frameworks through which the semiotic choices embedded in the media texts can be more objectively examined, namely: Halliday’s SFG for the verbal analysis; Kress and van Leeuween’s VG for the visual analysis; and Lakoff and Johnson’s CMT for the cognitive analysis of multimodal metaphors and metonymies. While being tangential to the notion of health itself, the cover pages endorse a peculiar fitness discourse in which subtle consumerist ideologies of male and female empowerment are co-opted. Men’s Health and Women’s Health perpetuate unhealthy physical standards and unattainable canons of beauty linked to hegemony, more overtly calling for the consumption of products that will transform the millennial male and female consumers into more socially acceptable packages for the outside gaze.


cognitive; hegemony; metaphor; metonymy; visual; verbal

Full Text:



BARRY, B. and PHILLIPS, B. J. (2015). “The fashion engagement grid: understanding men’s responses to fashion advertising”. International Journal of Advertising, 35 (3), 438-464.

BORDO, S. (2003). Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley: University of California Press.

CONNELL, R. W. and WOOD, J. (2005). “Globalization and business masculinities”. Men and Masculinities, 7 (4), 347-364. > https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184x03260969

CROTEAU, D.; HOYNES, W. and MILAN, S. (2014). Media/Society Industries, Images, and Audiences (5th ed.). London: Sage Publications.

DUNCAN, M. C. and KLOS, L. A. (2012). “Paradoxes of the flesh: Emotion and contradiction in fitness/beauty magazine discourse”. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 38 (3), 245-262. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193723512467190

DJONOV, E. and ZHAO, S. (2014). Critical Multimodal Studies of Popular Discourse. New York: Routledge.

EISEND, M. (2010). “A meta-analysis of gender roles in advertising”. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38, 418-440. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11747-009-0181-x

FEATHERSTONE, M. (1991). “The body: Social process and cultural theory”. In: M. FEATHERSTONE, M. HEPWORTH and B. S. TURNER (eds.). Theory, Culture, & Society. London: Sage Publications, 170-193.

FINN, J. (2008). Marketing to Women: A Content Analysis of Good Housekeeping Magazine Advertisements from 1955-2005. Master’s Thesis, University of Wyoming, Wyoming, United States of America.

FORCEVILLE, C. (2013). “The strategic use of the visual mode in advertising metaphors”. In: E. DJONOV and S. ZHAO (eds.). Critical Multimodal Studies of Popular Culture. New York: Routledge, 55-70.

FORCEVILLE, C. and URIOS-APARISI, E. (eds.). (2009). Multimodal Metaphor. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

FRANK, A. (2002). “What’s wrong with medical consumerism?” In: S. HENDERSEN and A. PETERSEN (eds.). Consuming Health: The Commodification of Health Care. London: Routledge, 13-30.

GRAMSCI, A. (1971). Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. London: Lawrence & Wishart.

HALLIDAY, M. A. K. and MATTHIESSEN, C. M. I. M. (2014). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. London: Arnold.

KILBOURNE, J. (2000). Can’t Buy my Love: How Advertising Changes the Way we Think and Feel. New York: Touchstone.

KÖVECSES, Z. (2010). Metaphor: A Practical Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

KNOLL, S., EISEND, M. and STEINHAGEN, J. (2011). “Gender roles in advertising”. International Journal of Advertising, 30, 867-888. http://dx.doi.org/10.2501/IJA-30-5-867-888

KRESS, G. and VAN LEEUWEN, T. (1996/2006). Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge.

KUIPERS, G., VAN DER LAAN, E. and ARFINI, G. (2016). “Gender models: Changing representations and intersecting roles in Dutch and Italian fashion magazines, 1982-2011”. Journal of Gender Studies, 26 (2), 632-648. https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2016.1155435

LAKOFF, G. and JOHNSON, M. (1980/2003). Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

LEWIS, D. C., MEDVEDEV, K. and SEPONSKI, D. M. (2010). “Awakening to the desires of older women: Deconstructing ageism within fashion magazines”. Journal of Aging Studies, 25 (2), 101-109. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaging.2010.08.016

MCDONNELL, A. and LIN, L. (2016). “The hot body issue: Weight and caption tone in celebrity gossip magazines”. Body Image, 18, 74-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.06.001

MCQUARRIE, E. and PHILLIPS, B. (2008). “It’s not your magazine AD: Magnitude and direction of recent changes in advertising style”. Journal of Advertising, 37 (3), 95-106. https://doi.org/10.2753/joa0091-3367370307

— (2016). Visual Branding: A Rhetorical and Historical Analysis. Camberley: Edward Elgar Publishing.

PÉREZ SOBRINO, P. (2017). Multimodal Metaphor and Metonymy in Advertising. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

RICCIARDELLI, R.; CLOW, K. A. and WHITE, P. (2010). “Investigating hegemonic masculinity: Portrayals of masculinity in men’s lifestyle magazines”. Sex Roles, 63 (1), 64-78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9764-8

RUIZ DE MENDOZA IBÁNEZ, F. J. and MAIRAL USÓN, R. (2007). “High-level metaphor and metonymy in meaning construction”. In: G. RADDEN, K-M. KÖPCKE, T. BERG and P. SIEMUND (eds.). Aspects of Meaning Construction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 33-49. https://doi.org/10.1075/z.136

SHAW, P.; EISEND, M. and TAN, Y. (2014). “Gender-role advertising in international advertising”. In: H. CHENG (ed.). The Handbook of International Advertising Research. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 299-312.

SHILLING, C. (2003). The Body and Social Theory (2nd. ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

SIGNORETTI, N. (2017). “A study of gender advertisements: A statistical measuring of the prevalence of genders’ patterns in the images of print advertisements”. Proceedings, 1 (9), 947. https://doi.org/10.3390/proceedings1090947

WASIKE, B. (2017). “Jocks versus jockettes: An analysis of the visual portrayal of male and female cover models on sports magazines”. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884917716818

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM
Copyright (c) 2018 Nashwa Elyamany