Fitness culture has a long history, but bodybuilding culture has a relatively short history. Starting with Eugene Sandow in the 1890s, he brought the muscular, naked male form into the public realm. Then John Grimek entered the scene in the 1930s and focused on the aesthetic ideal of the muscular body. Lastly, Arnold Schwarzenegger, starting in the late 60s, solidified the winning standard as muscle mass coupled with muscle definition. All these changes show the attributes unattainable perfection over time, but three major themes travel across all three influential individuals: publication of their training methods, physical displays of their body and their influence after retirement from competitions prove their search for unattainable perfection. All these men subscribe to the understanding of masculine identity during their respective time period because masculine identity is socially constructed, but these individuals shape bodybuilding culture over time as they search for perfection of the physical body.
McArdle, Erin, "Unattainable Perfection: Masculine Identity and Bodybuilding Culture From 1890 to the Present" (2012). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 3836.
History of Gender
bodybuilding, masculine identity, unattainable perfection
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2012 Erin McArdle