A Portrayal of Man in Japanese Advertising of Cosmetics for Men

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Khwanchira Sena
Goto Hiroki


Some previous studies noticed the increasing portrayal of genderless men in TV commercials. This paper studies how the masculine image of Japanese men in the past 50 years has evolved into the image of “Feminine Man,” “Herbivore Man” or “Genderless Boy” in Japanese TV commercials of cosmetic products for men. Contents from 64 Shiseido TV commercials of such products broadcast in Japan from 1962 to 2020 were analyzed to depict the male image and interpret the discourse of such commercials semiotically. The results reveal gradual changes from masculine men during 1962 – 1989 to metrosexual, slimmer men in 2000. Japanese men in fashion dresses and makeup appeared in 2002. From then to 2020, they were mostly portrayed as beauty and fashion savvy, a modern-day characteristic of “Herbivore Man” and “Genderless Boy.” In effect, advertising raises beauty awareness of Japanese men.


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