In pursuit of the ideal masculine body : a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach

Thumbnail Image
Bardick, Angela D.
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education, 2003
A phenomenological-hermeneutic approach was used to research men's experience with attempting to achieve an 'ideal' masculine body. The current North American 'ideal' male body, media and cultural influences, a continuum of exercise and dieting behaviours, steriod use, addictions, eating disorders were presented as factors that may provide insight into this phenomenon. Eight male research participants were interviewed in regards to their experiences with attempting to achieve an 'ideal' masculine body. A dramaturgical life story approach to interviewing was ued. A follow-up interview was conducted to allow each research participant to comment on the emerging themes shared by the researcher. The nine themes that emerged from the participants' stories are: (1) I am not good enough, (2) judging genetics, (3) spiraling into obsession, (4) extreme commitment, (5)join the club, (6) no one understands me, (7)control, (8) it's all an optical illusion, and (9) overcoming the obsession. The results of this thesis combined with the literature suggest the following three conclusions. First, men who attempt to achieve an ideal masculine body may be vulnerable to external messages about their bodies. Second, pre-existing personality traits and/or mental health issues may contribute to this vulnerability. Third, some men may attempt to deal with complex mental health issues by taking their 'frustrations' and 'aggression' out in the gym, rather than by seeking counselling. The implications for helping professionals are discussed. The limitations of this approach are acknowledged and directions for future research are suggested.
ix, 126 leaves ; 29 cm.
Body image in men , Men -- Psychology , Dissertations, Academic