The study of the social construction of the body has become crucial to contemporary academic discourses in education and physical education. Employing feminist poststructuralist theory and a qualitative ethnographic design, this study investigated how high school students identified themselves with images of bodies drawn from fitness and sports magazines, and how their body narratives were linked to their participation in physical education. Students’ body narratives reflected notions of comfortable, bad, and borderland bodies that influenced students’ physical activity choices and engagement in physical education. Girls’ narratives of their physicality were found to be significantly less comfortable than boys’. Critical pedagogy to destabilize gendered dominant discourses of mass media body culture and to develop positive, meaningful, and empowering student physicality is discussed.
Azzarito is with the University of Vermont, Department of Education, Professional Physical Education, 216 Patrick Gymnasium, 97 Spear Street, Burlington, Vermont 05405. Solmon is with the Department of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-7101.