Gender, body norms, and sports apparel advertisements
The purpose of this paper is to explore the ways in which sports apparel advertisements reinforce and challenge body standards of masculinity and femininity. A content analysis of photos appearing on the ecommerce websites of Nike and Under Armour was performed to analyze body type and sexualization of male and female models featured in “Tops” and “Bottoms” sections. Men’s Tops (M=1.2779), Women’s Tops (M=3.5834), and Women’s Bottoms (M= 2.6597) were considered “non-sexualized” while Men’s Bottoms (M=5.6051) were considered “sexualized”. Both male and female models were consistently reflective of ectomorph (e.g., thin/emaciated) or ecto-mesomorph (e.g., thin but shapely) body types. While some male models were considered to have a mesomorph body type (e.g., muscular/athletic), no female models did. No female or male models used in these advertisements had either endo-mesomorph (e.g., somewhat overweight) or endomorph (e.g., obese) body types. These findings are consistent with societal expectations for women to have a thin body type (Pompper et al., 2007; Law & Labre, 2002). Interestingly, more male models were portrayed with the thin ideal in comparison to a muscular ideal, which challenges previous research (Pompper et al., 2007; Law & Labre, 2002). Findings may suggest need for more accurate depiction of the average human body type to challenge traditional gender norms which are linked with psychological detriments for both males and females (Pompper et al., 2007; Law & Labre, 2002).