Firm but Shapely, Fit but Sexy, Strong but Thin: The Postmodern Aerobicizing Female Bodies

in Sociology of Sport Journal

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Pirkko MarkulaUniversity of Waikato

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This paper aims to reconstruct the cultural dialogue surrounding the female body image in aerobics. To do this I have used several methods: ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and media analysis. I found that the media ideal is a contradiction: firm but shapely, fit but sexy, strong but thin. Likewise, women’s relationships with the media image are contradictory: They struggle to obtain the ideal body, but they also find their battles ridiculous. I interpret my findings from a Foucaultian perspective to show how the discourse surrounding the female body image is part of a complex use of power over women in postmodern consumer society. In addition, I assume a feminist perspective that assigns an active role to the individual aerobicizers to question the power arrangement.

Pirkko Markula is with the Department of Leisure Studies, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton, New Zealand.

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