The Underside of the Undershirt: Australian Masculine Identity and Representations of the Undershirt in the 'Chesty Bond' comic-strip advertisements

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Berry, Jess
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2014
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Abstract

This article considers the male undershirt within discourses of distinctive Australian national dress styles, bush wear and swimwear. Through the case study of Chesty Bonds advertisements, this article will argue that the undershirt became a symbol of strength, virility, heroicism and mateship during the 1940s and 1950s. In aligning the Chesty Bond character with iconic Australian heroic types - the surf lifesaver and the bushman - advertisers were able to draw on mythologies of masculine cultural identity to promote the undershirt as a staple of the hegemonic male wardrobe. Through an analysis of the Chesty Bond comic-strip advertisements, I will argue that the athletic undershirt contributed to discourses of national identity in which the white male was dominant, and women and non-Anglo-Celtic men were marginalized, seen as being outside the Australian archetype.

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Critical Studies in Mens Fashion

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1

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2

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Art Theory

Design Practice and Management

Visual Arts and Crafts

Cultural Studies

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