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Men in fashion illustration textbooks: A critical analysis of race and the body

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An examination of various fashion-related media revealed a significant lack of racial diversity and a preference for fit, muscular male bodies. The ideals related to race have also been studied extensively in numerous academic disciplines’ textbooks and yielded similar results. Scholars have analysed women’s bodies in fashion-related textbooks, but men have largely been ignored from these analyses. Using intersectionality theory as a lens, we critically examined the representation of men in fashion illustration textbooks and asked the following questions: how many men are represented? Is there racial diversity, and how are men’s bodies represented? We focused on fashion illustration textbooks as drawing bodies and garments are often the foundation to the design process, and current industry projections suggest that the men’s market is expected to expand significantly over the next few years. Therefore, we question the types of messages being communicated through the imagery in these important educational tools. We analysed the fashion illustration textbooks published since 2000 using the content analysis method, and coded race, skin colour, body size, muscularity and body position. Not surprisingly, we found a significant lack of racial diversity and preferences for lighter-skinned Blacks. In addition, male bodies were often fit and muscular. Implications for authors and college-level instructors are provided.
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Keywords: body; colourism; fashion illustration; men; race; textbooks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Iowa State University

Publication date: April 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Critical Studies in Men's Fashion examines the multi-faceted dimensions of men's appearance. It uses the holistic definition of dress as a means of examining the tangible and intangible aspects of creating and maintaining appearance. This journal is the first to exclusively focus on men's dress and topics of gender, identity, sexuality, culture, marketing and business will be discussed. Men's dress and fashion have been side-lined in scholarship, and this journal provides a dedicated space for the discussion, analysis, and theoretical development of men's appearance from multiple disciplines. All articles are blind-peer reviewed in order to maintain the highest standards of scholastic integrity. Theoretical and empirical scholarship in the form of original articles, manuscripts, research reports, pedagogy, and media reviews are welcome.
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