Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Dr. Angela Schneider


Weight training and fitness competitions are increasingly popular activities for many women seeking an aesthetically fit body. This thesis entails a critical reflection of the various factors surrounding my personal decision to partake in body sculpting, examining how these factors parallel the experience of other women in the fitness industry. Using a feminist theoretical framework and autoethnography, a history of feminist theory is incorporated to demonstrate some of the various perspectives surrounding women bodies. Two challenges for women are discussed in this paper: i) the fear of fat, and how it is connected to a woman’s initial decision to attend the gym; and ii) the fear of masculinization, which is often experienced by women once they are in weight training environments. A discussion of women’s fitness and health magazines is included to expand the discussion on body image. These magazines are also analyzed for their positive and negative influences on women’s fitness. Performance-based activities are proposed as an alternative to fitness competitions for their objectivity. Finally, a personal perspective is offered on the meaning of femininity, within the context of North American culture.