The gendering of healthy diets

a multimodal discourse study of food packages marketed at men and women


  • Gwen Bouvier Zhejiang University
  • Ariel Chen Örebro University



multimodality, critical discourse analysis, food packaging, healthy diet, gender


Gendered identities are communicated in places as frequent and ordinary as food packaging, becoming mundane features of everyday life as they sit on supermarket shelves, in cupboards and on office desks. Multimodal critical discourse analysis (MCDA) allows us to investigate how such identities are buried in packaging in relation to health and fitness. Despite observed broader changes in gendered representations of the body in advertising, in particular relating to the arrival of ‘power femininity’, the products analysed in this article are found to carry fairly traditional and prototypical gender representations, and products marketed at both men and women highlight the need for more precise body management. For women, however, this precision is related to managing the demands of everyday life, packaged as a moral imperative to be healthy, responsible and successful.

Author Biographies

Gwen Bouvier, Zhejiang University

Gwen Bouvier (PhD University of Wales) is Professor of Social Media in the School of International Studies, Zhenjiang University. Her research interests are in social media, civic discourse and news representation. Her publications have focused on multimodal and critical discourse analysis, social media, fashion as discourse and the visual representation of crises in news. She is Associate Editor for Social Semiotics and Review Editor for the Journal of Multicultural Discourses.

Ariel Chen, Örebro University

Ariel Chen is a researcher in the School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences, Örebro University. A member of the research project ‘Communication of “good” foods and healthy lifestyles’, she uses multimodal critical discourse analysis to examine the way the discourse of healthy lifestyles becomes colonised and shaped by commercial interests. Her recent articles can be found in Critical Discourse Studies, Discourse, Context and Media and Food, Culture and Society.


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How to Cite

Bouvier, G., & Chen, A. (2021). The gendering of healthy diets: a multimodal discourse study of food packages marketed at men and women. Gender and Language, 15(3), 347–368.