Gendered identity negotiations through food consumption

Katie Turner (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Shelagh Ferguson (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Julia Craig (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Alice Jeffries (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
Sarah Beaton (Department of Marketing, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Publication date: 23 August 2013



Are peaches, Caesar salad and chocolate masculine or feminine food? Literature suggests that there is a clear association between certain types of food, portion sizes and gendered identities. This research paper and short film aims to explore the theory in practice of food consumption for young consumers, particularly impression management required to create/maintain an attractive identity to the opposite sex.


The authors adopt an interpretive approach to an in‐depth analysis of the food practices of an all male and an all female household. They use a theory in practice methodology to explore their food consumption.


It is found that despite enlightenment in many areas, gendered identities are still strongly associated with food consumption. The experiment in which each household consumed a meal associated with the opposite gender offers insight into the association between food consumption and gendered identity. The social implications of the research demonstrate that masculine identity is supported and negotiated through what he is eating, whereas feminine identity is being constructed by what she is not eating. It is concerning that an attractive feminine identity is premised on omission rather than consumption and traps many females into a negative and potentially harmful relationship with food consumption.


The use of videography allows insight into the negotiation of an underpinning cultural attitude where women eat less to be what consumer culture has defined as an attractive feminine identity which means being slimmer and smaller than males.



Turner, K., Ferguson, S., Craig, J., Jeffries, A. and Beaton, S. (2013), "Gendered identity negotiations through food consumption", Young Consumers, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 280-288.

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