“Where did your views of masculinity and femininity come from?”


These photographs came from a fashion photo shoot entitled “supermom” featured in the January 2009 issue of Vogue magazine.  The spread includes three characters: One Superman, one daughter, and the ever-so-fashionable mother. It’s a fashion shoot, so the mother’s clothes are always stylish, and Superman stays the same: strong, masculine. In one photo, Superman and the daughter begin to lift a classic convertible as the “supermom” sits on the other end of the car, with no worries. There’s also another scene where Superman is talking to some surfers and supermom is preoccupying their daughter by playing pattycake.  In the scene above, the supermom is leaning on her Superman as he pretends to look strong and lift the little girl in the air.

These scenes most certainly play into the gender stereotypes of women and men. The woman is constantly dressed well and always looks beautiful, whereas the man is always shown as the consistently masculine one in charge, through more stereotypical means. What’s also interesting is that the spread is featured in a woman’s magazine and displays a woman as an accessory almost, who must be the perffect, beautiful mother and wife to the perfect, handsome bread-winning husband. The audience is certainly influenced from the gender perspective by the way they’ve chosen to represent this ideal, fashionable family (Gamble 2003). Magazines and photo spreads like this one greatly contribute to the gender stereotypes that influence society (Gamble 2003). The particular style of the shoot can be attributed to the original era of the original Superman—which is evident in the clothes. Or, it can be seen as a modern interpretation of the way upper-class mothers should behave–showing how the times are changing (along with gender stereotypes placed on society) (Gamble 2003). When it comes to the daughter in the shoot, she is often shown in similar clothing as her mother, or perhaps stereotypically wearing her mother’s shoes or she is scene trying to be “daddy’s little girl”. Either or, you get both a modern perspective on parenting—in the sense that the little girl can do both things—and the traditional perspective on living as a family—where the man is the provider and the woman is there to look beautiful and to take care of the children.

Gamble, T. K., & Gamble, M. W. (2003). The Gender Communication Connection. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Testino, M. (2009, January). “supermom”. Vogue, pp. 108-119.

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