Laura Haensler discusses the influence of popular culture, films and TV series on the way gender is produced and portrayed in mass media. She takes a closer look at protagonists eating conventional potato chips, examines how these specific scenes are designed and poses the question how an everyday phenomenon like "eating chips" can reveal gender norms, identities and the designs of society.

Laura Haensler (*1994) works as a research associate in the Master of Design at the Zurich University of the Arts as well as a freelance designer. Her fields of research are gender, design and identity.

Authors website:


#gender, #food, #chips, #identity, #popularculture, #image

Chips, Couch and Crisis. The design of the eating protagonist | by Laura Haensler

"Lady Doritos" that would crunch lower in volume, leave less traces on mouth and fingers and would be sold in a bag that fits in every purse.
Lady Doritos |

The chips "Männerabend" und "Mädelsabend" appeared as a special edition in 2013.
Chiochips |

The protagonist eats chips wrapped in a sweater and laying in bed.
Woman 1: Gilmore Girls. Emily Says Hello, Season 5, Episode 9, 2004.

The protagonist lays in bed an obviously sad or frustrated mood.
Woman 2: The New Adventures of Old Christine. Beauty is only Spanx deep, Season 3, Episode 2, 2008.

The protagonist lays in bed wrapped in a blanket.
Woman 3: 2 Broke Girls. And the Break-up Scene, Season 1, Episode 2, 2011.

The protagonist is sitting in a wardrobe with chips and beer.
Woman 4: War Room. Prayer is a powerful Weapon, 2005.

The protagonist is shown in the bed room, wearing a pyjama.
Woman 5: The Mindy Project. San Francisco Bae, Season 3, Episode 13, 2015.

Three men sitting on the couch with chips and beer.
Man 1: New Girl. Thanksgiving, Season 1, Episode 6, 2011.

Three men sitting on a couch. What you don’t see on the picture: The man in the middle is eating chips with a widely opened mouth.
Man 2: Arrested Development. Wiederkehrende Träume, Season 4, Episode 10, 2013.

The protagonist is shown as a loser, laying and smoking on the couch.
Man 3: True Romance, 1993.

The protagonist is watching TV while eating chips and drinking beer. He feels disturbed by his wife.
Man 4: Family Guy. Peter wird intelligent, Season 12, Episode 17, 2014.

The protagonist eats chips while resting on an armchair.
Man 5: The Simpsons. Pranks and Greens, Season 21, Episode 6, 2009.