Embodying the gay self: Body image, reflexivity and embodied identity

Duncan, Duane
December 2010
Health Sociology Review;Dec2010, Vol. 19 Issue 4, p437
Academic Journal
The emphasis on a sexualised muscular body ideal in gay social and cultural settings has been described as facilitating body image dissatisfaction among gay men. Drawing on a concept of reflexive embodiment, this paper uses qualitative interviews to analyse gay men's embodiment practices in relation to discourses and norms that can be found across and beyond any coherent notion of 'gay subculture'. The findings reveal body image to be more complex than a limited focus on subculture or dissatisfaction can account for. In particular, gay men negotiate a gay pride discourse in which the muscular male body generates both social status and self-esteem, and deploy notions of everyday masculinity that imply rationality and control to resist gendered assumptions about gay men's body image relationships.


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