University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Building the Unbreakable Self: Women’s Experiences Leading to High Drive for Muscularity

Edwards, Christian ORCID:, Molnar, Gyozo ORCID: and Tod, D. (2018) Building the Unbreakable Self: Women’s Experiences Leading to High Drive for Muscularity. In: QRSE 2018: 6th International Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise, 6th - 8th June 2018, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. (Unpublished)

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Studies on the drive for muscularity (DFM) have primarily been quantitative and focused on men. Little is known about women’s experiences leading to high levels of desire for muscle. Our aim was to explore the stories of women with high DFM and unpack the socio-cultural and personal factors leading to their DFM. In-depth life-history interviews and multiple in-the-field conversations were undertaken with 11 female bodybuilders and weight trainers (Mean age=31.67, SD=6.73, years) scoring ≥ 3 on the Drive for Muscularity Scale (Mean=4.17, SD=0.84). Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a thematic narrative analysis. Women’s stories focused on a set of early social interactions with significant others. In these interactions women were exposed to dominant social narratives of femininity and male hegemony. Women felt obliged to comply with contemporary corporeal gender norms, which were often reinforced by situations that emphasized their lack of compliance. Women’s narratives revealed that they initially developed strong desires to gain control over their own bodies and engaged in behaviors to conform their corporeal selves to cultural feminine ideal expectations. However, a range of activating events shattered women’s gendered ontological security. Consequently, they realized that adopting traditional feminine ideals left them fragile, and socially and emotionally vulnerable. Their realization led to the manifestation of DFM. Drawing on Goffman’s work, we reveal how women built a muscular, ‘unbreakable’ frontstage to conceal their frail backstage. Findings disclose the value of considering the ‘presentation of the self’ concept when extending knowledge on the DFM in women.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: sport and exercise sciences, qualitative research, DFM, Drive for Muscularity, muscularity, women, social narratives
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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Depositing User: Christian Edwards
Date Deposited: 04 Jul 2018 09:36
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2020 04:00

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