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UAL Research Online

Spectacularizing the Male Body: Fashionable Physiques in the Age of Instagram

McCauley Bowstead, Jay (2022) Spectacularizing the Male Body: Fashionable Physiques in the Age of Instagram. In: Fashionable Masculinities: Queers, Pimp Daddies, and Lumbersexuals. Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, pp. 68-82. ISBN 9781978823310

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: McCauley Bowstead, Jay

This chapter gestures to both the evolution and the contested nature of male subjectivities in fashion, style, and popular culture, particularly as expressed at the level of embodiment. One way of understanding the two body styles (of the 'gym bro' and 'high fashion waif') I have explored would be to see them as representing distinct models of masculinity. To some extent this view would be accurate. Nevertheless, diverging aesthetics and differing regimes by which their bodies are shaped, there is far more that unites these distinct modes of embodiment than meets the eye: they are disseminated by similar or identical technologies and respond to comparable economic imperatives. In the context of a highly visual culture and increasingly precarious and insecure job market, the body has become an ever more important site of expression and capital: gym bro and waif-like corporeal aesthetics enable their adherents to achieve feelings of value and self-actualization. While for some the cash and cachet of a career can be parlayed from a compelling Instagram feed, for others, self-branding—measuring one’s value by corporeal capital and by the cold logic of the market—is surely an alienating, psychologically estranging experience. What is more, intriguingly, both of these ways of relating to the male body disavow elements of orthodox twentieth-century masculinity as characterized by rationality, self-control, power, and the suppression of affect. To transform oneself into the object of the gaze brings with it the potential for both pleasure and vulnerability.

Official Website: https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/fashionable-masculinities/9781978823297
Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: Masculinities, Embodiment, Male Body, Gym Culture, Media Representations
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Rutgers University Press
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 15 July 2022
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 13:46
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2022 13:46
Item ID: 18568
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/18568

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