Body Panic: Gender, Health, and the Selling of Fitness

By Shari L. Dworkin; Faye Linda Wachs | Go to book overview

5
From Women's Sports & Fitness to Self Third Wave Feminism and the Consumption Conundrum

While working together on this book project, each of us had collected piles of fitness magazines. Stacked in several corners of our respective apartments, sometimes these mounds stood tall straight up in the air, majestic at other times, willowy, leaning towers of Pisa. Sometimes the piles were flat, spread out, completely covering hardwood floors or carpets as we debated cover images and stood over them with an air of authority. In the early phases of this project, after we carried out an initial coding, we met to discuss preliminary summaries and findings. We then discovered that both of us had independently decided to subscribe to Women's Sports & Fitness. That wasn't entirely a surprise given that each of us couldn't ignore that this particular magazine was clearly different from the other magazines (both men's and women's) in important ways.

How was Women's Sports & Fitness “different”? First, we discussed the covers—these didn't look like the other magazines. The cover of one of the first issues we coded quite unique. It depicted a woman hiking across a green, rugged hill, snow-capped peaks rising majestically in the background. Shot from a distance, she was smiling, not at the camera, and her gaze seemed to follow her unmistakable anticipation of the trail stretching out in front of her (October 1997). Wearing hiking boots, a large pack, a long-sleeved shirt, and shorts, she seemed totally unaware of the camera. The content of this publication appeared to be different, too. There were profiles of women athletes, articles that focused on sports performance, discussions about long-term participation in sports, a get-outand-do-it attitude that didn't apologize for a resoundingly feminist stance. And, there was the coverage of key debates in the field of sport, such as

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