Salads should be pink, burgers should be blue: Gendered food in today’s society

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?!)

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About Becky Martin

I'm a Communication/International Studies student at Old Dominion University, currently studying ANTR 320... hence... this blog!
This entry was posted in Advertizing / Marketing, Cooking & Foodways, Gendered Products, Stereotypes. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Salads should be pink, burgers should be blue: Gendered food in today’s society

  1. Looking at ads for unhealthy snacks like Combos, compared to something traditionally considered healthier, like Yoplait, it seems blatantly obvious how gendered food has become.

    According to commercials, women never eat beef jerky.

  2. I love that you went out and bought a men’s magazine for comparison purposes! Way to participate and observe!

    Apparently the use of gendered food is effective, otherwise marketers wouldn’t use it. I wonder if part of the power of gender here is because of the relationship between food and the body? As we’ve seen in class, people really cling to the notion that gender is just an extension of sex and that our lust for ice cream or beef jerky is a natural expression of our biology.

    • Becky Martin says:

      I’ll just keep convincing myself that my female DNA has programmed me to want low-calorie/fat-free chocolatey desserts, not society… then I won’t feel bad as I keep flipping through magazines!!! :)

  3. izzo1309 says:

    I love these videos!!! I would say that these videos make it easier for us [men and women] to try new things that are out of our norm. Seeing others do it or eat it first gives us some sort of comfort that “I’m not the only one”. The videos give us some sort of security or confidence that it is ok to eat what is normally the other genders food i.e. burgers vs salad.

    I love the burger commerical where the girl is dressed like Daisy Duke and has a triple chees burger in her hands while she is sitting on a vintage car. She’s digging into this burger, no manners or napkins, and these construction workers are at a dead stop staring at her with tears in their eyes from across the street as she eats this burger. I don’t if they are staring at the burger, the girl or the car but this commerical tells me that it is ok to eat what you want as long as you enjoy it. Great job on the blog!!!

  4. uksara2012 says:

    I liked this contrast a lot. Told my friends about it an they were all surprised when they realized how normalized it’s become.

    • Becky Martin says:

      I agree with your friends – it is amazing how normalized gendered food has become… I’m sure both you and I could think of numerous examples of “masculine foods” and “feminine foods” at the drop of a hat.

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