Header image courtesy of Lianne McTavish

Source: The Conversation

Professor of History of Art and Design and Visual Culture at University of Alberta, Lianne McTavish has researched many topics within her field. At the age of 45, looking for a new challenge to explore and learn from, Lianne becomes the subject of her next study.

I decided to undertake an auto-ethnographic project, analyzing my own experiences within broader cultural frameworks to interrogate the gendered dynamics of fitness culture and assumptions about the practice of bodybuilding.

Settling in the realm of bodybuilding to conduct her research, Lianne competed in her first figure show. Through gym training, posing classes, and dieting her preconceived assumptions of the entire figure world were rewritten.

At first I thought that becoming a figure girl was at odds with my feminist identity and politics. I was not interested in being objectified and judged in terms of my appearance instead of my intelligence. Yet I discovered that figure competitions can benefit women, helping them to be strong, independent, and to reject gender norms.

Read more of her discoveries here.