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Social Theory & Health

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 169–188 | Cite as

‘I put pressure on myself to keep that body’: ‘Health’-related body work, masculinities and embodied identity

  • Julia Coffey
Original Article

Abstract

This article draws on qualitative interview data exploring men’s understandings of their bodies and practices of body work in Australia in the context of increasing ‘visibility’ of men’s bodies and increasing attention to young men’s body image. For the men discussed in this article, body work practices of eating and exercise in particular relate to their embodiments of masculinity and to their broader understandings of their bodies and ‘selves’. While appearance and ‘beauty’ are typically constructed as feminine concerns and important to women’s constructions of identity, these examples show that a concern for the body’s appearance is also an important component of current embodiments of masculinity. This article provides an outline of a Deleuze-Guattarian approach to theorising the body through the concepts of affect and assemblage and suggests how this approach can assist in empirical analysis of the complex, contingent and contradictory relationship between the idealisation of health as an ‘image’ and ‘ideal’ gendered appearances in young men’s gendered and ‘health’-related body work practices. This has academic and practical implications for understanding contemporary gender arrangements related to the social and cultural circumstances in which the body is becoming ever more central.

Keywords

the body health masculinities identity body work gender 

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Coffey
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of NewcastleOurimbahAustralia

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