'Whatever it takes': Building the disciplined body and self: A Foucaulldian analysis of Danish bodyfitness athletes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference abstract in proceedingsResearch

  • Michelle Sandra Blagdon Lindop
Fitness training and building the body through weight training has become widely popular in recent years. A rising number of women participate in aesthetic fitness competitions in Denmark. Normalizing practices are being adopted by the participants to build a very lean and muscular body. The aim of this project is to investigate how the bodyfitness athlete manage and regulate her body and how this affects her perception of body and self. Three years of ethnographic field work has facilitated detailed insights in the fitness competition subculture. Semi-structured interviews have been carried out with seven Danish female bodyfitness athletes aging between 20 and 39 years. They are categorised as experienced athletes as they have all participated in minimum one national competition in the previous two years. Training, food, use of anabolic steroids, the relationship with the coach and the athlete’s relationship to one’s own body have shown to be essential topics of analysis. With Foucault’s theoretical framework it is shown how the athletes does ’whatever it takes’ to build a nonsustainable but yet necessary athlete identity. It is markedly contrasted to a ’normal life’. Extreme (self-)discipline, egocentric body focus and the ability to ’push through pain’ is negotiated as evident to be accepted as an ’ideal’ and successful bodyfitness athlete. It is further problematized how the exposure of this subculture affects the broader fitness and body culture in the Danish society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordic Sociological Association Conference 2018 - NSA 2018 - Aalborg, Denmark, 8th - 10th August 2018 : Book of Abstracts
Number of pages1
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventNSA 2018: The 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference: The Global North – Welfare policies, mobilities, inequalities, and social movements - Aalborg Universitet, Aalborg, Denmark
Duration: 8 Aug 201810 Aug 2018


ConferenceNSA 2018: The 29th Nordic Sociological Association Conference
LocationAalborg Universitet

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Fitness competition, Body perception, Identity, Normalising practice, Foucault

ID: 209118021