A SEMIOTIC APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF BODYBUILDING: THE IMPORTANCE OF MALE BODY IMAGE AND ITS INDICATIONS OF MASCULINITY IN CONTEMPORARY WESTERN SOCIETY
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In order to better understand American society’s attitude toward male body image, this paper utilizes a semiotic approach. Drawing upon social semiotics as an analytical framework, it examines the articulation of the modern “male body image ideal” in the United States. The current ideal popularly conveyed is one of a lean, muscular physique. The role of the bodybuilding subculture is analyzed alongside types of media discourse (magazines, such as Men’s Health and Muscle and Fitness, and various types of advertisements), which highlight the ideals being disseminated. Furthermore, a study is presented of the dialogue about masculinity and the increasingly pervasive and frequently unrealistic ideal of male body image presented in society at large today. I find that, through the various signifiers discussed, the prevailing ideal propagated is the muscular mesomorph.