The Georgia Straight is the so-called alternative weekly newspaper in Vancouver. This week's edition came out yesterday. It's January, shortly after the holidays when so many of us indulge in many more calories than we normally do. Time to hit the gym! So it was not surprising to see a fitness babe on the cover.
The Straight has done this sort of thing before. I think this cover is a recurring theme. And I wondered (in my best Carrie Bradshaw voiceover): Why not a fitness hunk?
It didn't take long for me to figure that one out. If anyone saw a fitness hunk on the cover of the Straight, they'd think it was Xtra, the gay and lesbian weekly.
Weird, eh? A fitness babe showing some skin on the cover implies heterosexuality. She's there for the boys to want (you'll find her at the gym) and the girls to envy (you can be like her if you go to the gym). A fitness hunk showing some skin on the cover screams homosexuality. He's there for the boys to want (you'll find him at the guys-only gym), girls not invited (because you just know he's gay). The only way you could put a fitness hunk on the cover and not have it scream homosexuality would be to pair him with a fitness babe—which the Straight has also done. Then you'd be safely in heterosexual territory.
I suppose lesbians could also want the fitness babe, so the hetero cover would be for them. Which in itself is curious. A fitness hunk alone would be very specific to male homosexuality, whereas the fitness babe would cover all the rest—including those of us who are more generally sexual, no prefix required.
I'm not usually into deconstructing the implications behind media images, but this one caught my attention. It's kind of fun to find the hidden messages and the assumptions behind seemingly innocuous displays.