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Bullock, E. (2018) No title available. Undergraduate theses, University of Chichester.

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In many Western contemporary societies, ‘healthism is to the fore’ (Cheek, 2008, p.974). The intensification of this health discourse, which dominates everyday talk about our bodies and health, imposes greater responsibility for self-care onto the individual. This talk orientates around anti-ageing pressures and fears over an obesity epidemic, both of which frequently feature in body image discourses. Furthermore, there are gendered implications of this discourse, stemming from contradictory exercise and diet messages that necessitate a discursive net into which women are ensnared. Thus, this study will initially locate the female body and body practices within a web of dominating cultural body politics and in the service of neoliberal political agendas. This study will then explore, based upon interviews with twelve women, embodied constructions of ‘healthy’ identities and the impact of this internalization on their body practices.
The stories of the women in this study reveal that they experience pressure to ‘look’ healthy and youthful. Findings suggest that a hierarchy of legitimate reasons exists for the women’s bodily practices, where taking care of the body for health or functional reasons are more appropriate than concerns about appearance. Their lived experiences reveal that health and anti-ageing discourses combine to reinforce normative demands of femininity on the body. Moreover, findings highlight the complexity of middle-aged women’s body image, who simultaneously described feeling content and dissatisfaction with parts of their bodies. The women offered several explanations for these seeming contradictions; the most prominent was their shift in focus from appearance towards health and physical ability. To this end, the significance of this study lies in documenting the muted voices of middle-aged women to reveal their perceptions of current body image discourse, as they are constituted through their lived, embodied experiences.

Publication Type: Theses (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BA (Hons) Sport Development and Coaching
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ1101 Women. Feminism
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Sport > Area > Sport Social Sciences
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Ann Jones
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2019 16:49
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2019 16:49

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