Julia W. sent in images from the April 2010 J. Crew catalog:
What Julia noticed is that the men’s pages for a clothing line called The Naturals focus on ruggedness and work. The description on the men’s page:
The Naturals. For this month’s men’s shop, we asked 11 guys from various professions (with one thing in common – they all work with nature) to show off the season’s essentials every man should own.
The man featured on the opening page of that section is identified by name and profession. Julia says,
The men pose without props, but with captions to tell us that they’re landscape designers, farmers, etc. On the J. Crew website you can read pages of interviews with these men about their careers. The interviews make absolutely no mention of clothes – it’s all about their experience as a goat farmer or whatever.
The female models, on the other hand, aren’t identified by name, and no mention is made of their work. They’re holding gardening-related items, which, as Julia points out, they’re apparently incompetent at, given they’ve sometimes dropped or broken them. The female model isn’t shown actually gardening, just holding stuff. And she looks a lot younger than the male model on the first page of The Naturals section.
Another gendered touch is the common use of dark colors for men’s items while products for women are shown against a pastel or white background.
So there you have it: men as interesting individuals you are supposed to care enough about to go to the website and read about. They aren’t modeling clothes, they just happen to be wearing some. While they work. Women? They’re pretty faces you stick in the clothes. They look dumb while dropping things. Hopefully they don’t work as florists or gardeners.
UPDATE: Commenter iris points out that a previous J. Crew catalog featured women more prominently, with interviews about them (though not just about work). The segment was called “Who’s that Girl?” The description from the J. Crew website:
The savvy ladies featured in our March catalog open up about work, love, personal style, and…what they’d do if they hit the lottery? Yep, that too.