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Exploring Women’s Experiences: Embodied Pathways and Influences for Exercise Participation

Department of Sport and Exercise Science, Canterbury Christ Church University, North Holmes Road, Canterbury CT1 1QU, UK
Societies 2019, 9(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010016
Received: 3 January 2019 / Revised: 13 February 2019 / Accepted: 14 February 2019 / Published: 19 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Socio-cultural and Critical Approaches to Health and the Body)
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PDF [245 KB, uploaded 19 February 2019]

Abstract

It has been well-documented that women face pressures to conform to a slim, toned, and athletic body, becoming “tyrannised” by beauty ideals. Under these contemporary ideologies of perfectionism, women are placed under constant surveillance, evaluation and, objectification and are thus reduced to “being” their bodies. However, there is little known about the potential relationships between different types of exercise, body image, and exercise motivation. With this in mind, this paper contributes towards a small but developing body of research that utilises feminist phenomenology to reveal twelve women’s early embodied motivations for exercising and draws upon material gathered from a three-year ethnography into the embodied experiences of women in fitness cultures. This paper delves into the influences on their continued participation over time and explores how these experiences shape their understandings of the embodied self and the broader constructions of the gendered body. The discussion provided illuminates how early influences on exercise participation and how pressures on women to conform to dominant notions of the “feminine” body are imposed by structural, cultural, historical, and localised forces in ways that affect and shape future physical activity participation, and the physical cultures where these tensions are played out. View Full-Text
Keywords: feminism; exercise participation; physical education; embodiment; feminist phenomenology; body image feminism; exercise participation; physical education; embodiment; feminist phenomenology; body image
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Clark, A. Exploring Women’s Experiences: Embodied Pathways and Influences for Exercise Participation. Societies 2019, 9, 16.

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