Cars have been gendered. (Volkswagen Beetle.) Toys have been gendered. (Tonka trucks.) Toiletries have been gendered. (Dove.) Food has been gendered? I noticed this trend one evening while flipping through one of my fashion magazines. I was then drawn to go to the store and purchase a men’s interest magazine, and lone-behold, the trend continued…
After analyzing advertisements in both magazines, I observed that marketing techniques for “women’s food” consisted of pink and bubbly graphics/fonts, the unsubtle mention of nutrition facts and calories, and the hint of an emotional appeal. Marketing techniques for “men’s food” consisted of rough lines and bold colors/fonts, the mention of taste versus nutrition, and the hint of appealing to dominance. The marketing and classification of food seems to be based on our society’s views of gender stereotypes. Men should be strong, independent, and unemotional. Women, on the other hand, should be lean and sexy, domestic, and nurturing. Because “we are what we eat,” we have grown extremely conscious of the food we are putting into our bodies. Another blogger has explained that food not only provides us with nourishment, but has the ability to craft our identities:
One of the major ways this is borne out in American society is through concerns about weight and personal appearance: women are expected to be beautiful and thin and thus are trained to be more calorie conscious for fear of social alienation, whereas overweight individuals and perceived gluttony carries far less of a penalty for men… This explains why beer and burgers are most often marketed towards men, but salads, yogurt, and diet coke are so heavily pushed on women.
I wish I could be so strong as to say that I haven’t fallen under the spell of gendered food. But sadly, I have. This isn’t to say that a girl like me doesn’t enjoy a juicy steak or too many trips to the buffet bar, but my fridge and pantry contain many gendered foods: Morningstar burgers, Skinnygirl cocktails, Laughing Cow cheese, fat-free Chobani yogurt, fresh fruits and veggies, low-carb tortillas, yolk-free Egg Beaters, and the list goes on and on. Not only do I enjoy these foods, but I share with my girlfriends my “newest guilt-free finds.” (And don’t even get me started on Hungry Girl – I swear by her tv show and consider her cookbook my heavenly food bible!)
(FYI – These onion rings are DELICIOUS!)
So, the notion of gendered food has led me to a deep brainstorming session: What other types/brands of food are gendered? And how? Two specifics stood out to me amongst the crowd. The hyper-femininity trophy is awarded to Skinnycow, illustrated by their mascot, a sexy, goddess-like cow, with a measuring tape wrapped around her tiny waist. Dos Equis beer is awarded the trophy of hyper-masculinity (and should only be indulged by “The Most Interesting Man in the World”).
Are you on board, reader (whomever you are!)? Do you believe that, along with other types of products, food has now become gendered? Have you noticed any other in-your-face marketing strategies? Have you personally, or someone you know, been placed under this spell? (Or have you, like my husband, been able to stay neutralized?!)