Beauty (Re)Discovers the Male Body

In Peg Zeglin Brand (ed.), Beauty Matters. Indiana University Press. pp. 112-154 (2000)
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Abstract

Putting classical art to the side for the moment, the naked and near-naked female body became an object of mainstream consumption first in Playboy and its imitators, then in movies, and only then in fashion photographs. With the male body, the trajectory has been different. Fashion has taken the lead, the movies have followed. Hollywood may have been a chest-fest in the fifties, but it was male clothing designers [e.g., Calvin Klein] who went south and violated the really powerful taboos--not just against the explicit depiction of penises and male bottoms but against the admission of all sorts of forbidden "feminine" qualities into mainstream conceptions of manliness. . . . Images of masculinity that will do double (or triple or quadruple) duty with a variety of consumers, straight and gay, male and female, are not difficult to create in a culture like ours, in which the muscular, male body has a long and glorious aesthetic history.

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