Consumer Masculinity Ideology: Conceptualization and Initial Findings on Men’s Emerging Body Concerns

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Abstract

Men’s body concerns have been increasing in recent decades, as contemporary men express what had almost exclusively been feminine concerns over body appearance. Although traditional masculinity can account for some body concerns, it cannot fully explain their increased prevalence or changing forms. This project examines recent shifts from a production-centered to a consumerist culture, and suggests that this societal change manifests in the emergence of a consumer masculinity ideology. We argue that this new ideology, in which proper masculinity is established, communicated and validated through consumption, is instrumental in explaining men’s contemporary body concerns. We provide initial empirical support for the utility of this construct in samples of predominantly ethnic majority, heterosexual, and highly educated British and Israeli men (N = 191, Mage = 33.57, SDage = 10.24; N = 185, Mage = 36.05, SDage = 11.88, respectively). In both samples, a preliminary measure of this ideology, the Consumer Masculinity Inventory (CMI), mostly confirmed the predicted associations with measures of traditional masculinity and materialist values, as well as with men’s behavioral investment in personal aesthetics and self-labeling as metrosexual. Generally supporting the hypotheses, CMI scores also uniquely predicted most indices of men’s body concerns (e.g., self-objectification, drives for muscularity, and leanness) beyond measures of traditional masculinity and materialist values. Additionally, CMI scores partially mediated the predictive contributions of traditional masculinity to these body concerns. These preliminary findings highlight the potential contribution of this novel conceptualization and operationalization for psychological research and practice. Future research should consider the impact of consumer masculinity on the well-being and body concerns of contemporary men.

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