Discourses of Heterosexuality in Women's Magazines’ ads: Visual Realizations and their Ideological Underpinnings


  • Zara Pinto Coelho University of Minho, Portugal
  • Silvana Mota Ribeiro Universidade do Minho




feminine heterosexuality discourses, gender discourses, visual social semiotics, advertising images, women’s magazines


This article aims to identify the discourses articulated in images of heterosexual ads published in women’s magazines and their ideological underpinnings. It explores how heterosexuality is represented at a visual level, and examines the notions of femininity and masculinity, gender and sexuality that are constructed by the ads and the way they are intertwined. The main structures of the images are analysed within the framework of social semiotics, and from a critical feminist point of view. The analysis of hetero ads reveals the presence of heteronormative gender discourses and conventional representations of the hetero couple, as well as the presence of more ‘permissive’ discourses and representations concerning female sexuality. However, although some ads might slightly ‘flirt’ with female sexual transgression, this is done in a way that does not threat dominant conceptions of feminine heterosexuality. In conclusion, hetero ads still reinforce conventional heteronormative expectations regarding the relationship between sexuality and gender.

Author Biography

Zara Pinto Coelho, University of Minho, Portugal

Department of Communication, Communication and Society Research Centre (CECS)




How to Cite

Coelho, Z. P., & Mota Ribeiro, S. (2014). Discourses of Heterosexuality in Women’s Magazines’ ads: Visual Realizations and their Ideological Underpinnings. Observatorio (OBS*), 8(2). https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS822014761