BootCamp: Gendering through Sports



Advertisements often work off of two ideals, stereotypes to speak to the focus audience and counter arguments to stereotypes to entice a different group of individuals.  The advertisement above is an advertisement that challenges the stereotype of boot camp being a military training style normally practiced by men because it’s a feminine advertisement while still portraying woman as tough in a non-sexualizing manner. What sets this image apart from the others that advertise female boot camp is that this is focused on healthy and a fit lifestyle while many other advertisements primarily focus on sexuality.

Key aspects of this advertisement that portray femininity include the soft, thin, white type font in the top right corner that is very scripted and curvy. It’s a feminine typeface because it symbolic of the fair-skinned, curvaceous and soft types of bodies that women idealize or that are idealized for woman in our society. The white curls and swirls on the outer corners of theimage are also thin and white used for decoration as they had no marketing value to the advertisement, but add cultural specificities. The white curls serve as decoration, the way woman use jewelry and make-up as a decoration on themselves. This also relates to how woman are thought of as decorative and trophy wives to men. This advertisement caters to woman because of the femininity that would be more enticing to woman and would seem too soft to men. The strong typeface seen in the word “BOOTCAMP” is very masculine because the event of boot camp is generally a manly masculine sport. This shows a line of separation that is effective in showing how they are attempting to feminize boot camp by leaving boot camp in strong capital letters but using soft curvy type font for many other word in the image. The words “GET FIT!” are also in all capitals in a more masculine font, because it is distressed and rugged. It is also very square bodied as you would see a male body shape versus the curvy and thin figure of a woman. Another mixed aspect of femininity in the advertisement is the dog tags used to encase the website title “”  The dog tags are very representative of the military as it is worn for personnel identification and the advertisement uses it to enclose its website name in the shape of a necklace, another feminine detail.

Another interesting part of this advertisement is the framing and focus that gives the woman a tough look. The background is green and blurred and slowly comes into focus the more forward you move that is clearly focused on the face and body position of the two women. The women look very tough and strong. Their eyes are focused straight at the camera which interpellates you to stare back at them. Their hands are positioned straight on the ground shoulder width apart with their legs behind them holding them up so that their bodies are in a planking position which is very reminiscent of the military crawl. Although the women have their hair and makeup done and the woman on the left has her long hair flowing and soft, this is more so a portrayal of gendering woman than it is sexualizing woman.

Women are gendered in society as soft and weak and this advertisement counters that stereotype. A lot of how women are gendered is by sex appeal and sexuality to entice men. This advertisement lacks sexuality. The women are only showing their faces and arms. Although they are in a planking position their cleavage is covered. They have a very strong gaze as they are not conforming to the typical male gaze but rather exhibiting the power in looking back. Its empowering woman to go out and do something much of what was talked about in the article “Producing Girls” by Leslie Heywood that centralizes its focus on empire, sport and neoliberalism. Empire relates to regulations without boundaries while pursuing domination and subjugation something woman are not normally used to. Empire works by pushing girls to create their own person while representing themselves as strong and independent. The military style boot camp class shows the strength, determination and focus that they want girls to have to be successful in the business world.  Neoliberalism focuses on progress and individualism much like how boot camp focuses on yourself and your fit life progress. It high lights new independence and the idea that the future is in your hands. There’s a lot of focus on being self-made and exhibiting the hegemonic ideology of being successful and how success is directly related to power and independence to show individual value.  It’s the idea that the female athletic body is reminiscent of success in the consumer culture. It shows personal choice and drive.

The choice of being fit and healthy and having drive is what is represented in this image because it’s showing the values of health rather than sexualizing woman for their body. This advertisement is not promising anything about how fit or healthy you can get or shows an idealized female body with toned abs and buttocks while showing lots of skin. This ad limits that type of exposure and focuses on the healthy aspect.  The top right corner with the information reads “What to Bring: a mat, weights, water and towel.”  This immediately shows that the class is a tough and that it’s not about image but about working to achieve a personal ideal self. These are all attributes that woman are usually told to suppress but recently have grown with more athletic options for woman and the gain in representation. This advertisement is a large representation for female empowerment in a non-sexualizing manner while gendering boot camp towards females through the use of femininity.

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1 Response to BootCamp: Gendering through Sports

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    “this is more so a portrayal of gendering woman than it is sexualizing woman.” What a great, succinct way to summarize the difference between gendering and sexualizing–a difference that often gets conflated. Your post clearly demonstrates the difference and strongly links the ad to the Heywood’s chapter. How would you push this a bit further to come up with a solid critique of the limitations of this ad? For example, how does it still implicitly conform to particular standards of femininity? How does it racialize these fitness practices and limit who can take up these can-do positions?

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