Voracious Dolls and Competent Chefs

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Voracious Dolls and Competent Chefs: Negotiating Femininities and Masculinities in Italian Food Advertisements of the 1990s-2010s

by Francesca Calamita

Food advertisements on Italian television and other media are populated by glamorous angels of the house, who look after their families by nourishing them with healthy food, or voracious dolls, whose appetite recalls sexual hunger. Similarly, men are depicted as breadwinners, thus reinforcing their stereotypical role in the collective imaginary, as creative chefs, whose expertise in the kitchen is unquestionable, or as postmodern Adams, whose greedy food consumption is a result of their women’s lustful behavior, as depicted in the biblical episode of Eve and the apple. Framing my investigation within the debate on present-day female and male identities and cultural expectations placed on women and men in order to fulfill societally approved roles, I analyze a number of selected food-related advertisements and reality shows on cooking and dieting of the 1990s-2010s and explore what they communicate about contemporary femininity, masculinity and gender roles to their audiences.