Social commentary and think pieces

02 February 2019

Does the way we market male health products add to the pressure men feel to appear 'manly'?

Ever since I started to take an interest in the Feminist movement, I knew that the pressure to appear macho and hide vulnerability was something that very much existed for males. I became suddenly aware of how clearly this pressure had left its mark on each and every boy I knew, and of course how it had influenced them to bottle up every emotion they felt that wasn’t deemed ‘manly’ but todays society, or any society for that matter.

However, it was only when searching out a new cleanser at my local Superdrug that I was prompted to question what was at the root of this problem. I’d noticed the difference in packaging and marketing techniques of the cleansers displayed, depending on which gender they were targeted towards. 

The women’s cleansers sat together on their shelf, most of them pink and giving out some sort of message of femininity. On the next shelf the mens cleansers were displayed. One particular cleanser that struck a chord with me was “Bulldog: skincare for men.”

I concluded that the reason for the difference in marketing was gender stereotypes. But, the clear difference in marketing techniques got me questioning what impact mens products conforming to male stereotypes has on mens mental health. And, if marketing health products in this way is adding to the pressure on men not to manifest vulnerability or any emotion other than anger. 

From a stereotypical perspective, skincare isn’t deemed ‘manly’ so in some sense naming a men’s skincare brand “Bulldog” is a smart move on companies side as it takes away some of the shame associated with men buying skincare products and it makes something deemed ‘feminine’ more acceptable to men. Not only that, using stereotypes in this way appeals to a mass audience, so essentially its in the brands interest to support these stereotypes as doing so means more cash for them. 

These products are so clearly a result of the gender stereotypes inflicted on us. But, my theory is that way we market these particular products adds to the pressure and further encourages men to hide their true emotions. 

The marketing of mens products is only a small factor leading up to this problem, and most likely not something many of us consider or think twice about. But advertising is something that surrounds us in our day to day lives and something that, with the rise of social media, is becoming impossible to escape. So, the idea that men can only appear tough really is forced upon us and does create a toxic stereotype that the vast majority of men feel they have to live up to. 

The thing that bothers me is that this is something we’re finally starting to have conversations about. We’re finally telling men that its okay for them to cry, show emotion and admit to feeling vulnerable. Yet, we continue to enforce a stereotype and in doing so enforce a pressure on men and young boys to hide such feelings, through the marketing of male products. 

Each of these products adds to pressure to appear a certain way and not display any feeling of vulnerability. They teach men to hide emotion and ‘man up.’ But, in the words of the absolute queen that is Paloma Faith herself, “You don’t have to man up, that phrase kinda sucks.” I say we all take a leaf out of Paloma’s book.

But, jokes aside, this is a real problem affecting the mentality of so many men in today’s society. The marketing of male products is just one factor amongst an uncountable number of others leading to this pressure to be seen as macho. But, combined with advertising and the the way men are represented in the media, its one that we see all the time. I say we stop enforcing this stereotype upon men and let them manifest their real emotions.


  1. This was such an interesting post to read, and I have never see any other blogger mention such a topic! As much as I agree with your perspective, I have to say that these products and their marketing techniques sell because the privileged males (the white, heterosexual males) prefer and actually buy this. There are lots of marketing research going on with these products before they even launch, and I guess the majority of the market actually demands these products, as sad as it is.

    Eda G ☆ Room 95 | Instagram

    1. Thank you so much! I completely understand that these products sell because men tend to prefer buying them. However, the question I was trying to ask in the post was why this is? I think its just to conform to a stereotype, purely out of the fear of not appearing 'macho'. But, I'm thinking that this could have an unhealthy impact on men's mental health x

  2. This is such an interesting post to read so thank you so much. Your perspective is something I agree with and hopefully we'll see a shift in how male products are branded and marketed, just like we've seen a shift in how female products. From 'stay at home housewife', to 'glamourous ladies' and now to 'strong, amazing women' xx | @bloglilyrose

    1. Oh my god yes! I never thought to compare this to the change in the marketing of women's products. It just goes to show that stereotypes affect us all, despite there being a large focus on the stereotypes women face x

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