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Strong and Hard Women: An Ethnography of Female Bodybuilding

In Strong and Hard Women, Tanya Bunsell offers an insightful ethnographic exploration of female bodybuilding in the United Kingdom, questioning whether female bodybuilding can operate as a vehicle for women’s empowerment and for resistance to cultural constructions of hegemonic femininity. Since the birth of the sport in 1979, female bodybuilding has grown and changed significantly, as have the meanings attached to female corporeality, muscularity and femininity. In a “body-focused” society where one is surrounded by incessant messages regarding bodily meanings and interpretations, female bodybuilding may have important feminist implications; however, the values, practices and phenomenological experiences of female bodybuilders remain largely unexplored. Therefore, Strong and Hard Women is an important and timely contribution to this literature.