The Muscled Self and Its Aftermath: A Life History Study of an Elite, Black, Male Bodybuilder
Sparkes, Andrew C.
University of Exeter
This article draws on the life history of an elite, black, male bodybuilder to explore the social meanings of muscle in the construction and confirmation of specific forms of masculine identity. Attention is given to childhood experiences in a hostile environment and how this initiated a quest for a hyper-muscular body. Having successfully achieved this aim by winning a British Championship a turning point moment prematurely terminates his sporting career. The aftermath of this moment for his sense of self are examined by focusing on experiences of the following: negative pain, an atrophying body, the loss of a disciplined body and an athletic identity, and becoming ‘black again’ in a small body. Finally, some reflections on the muscled self and its aftermath are provided.
Auto/Biography, 2005, 13: 131-160