Freak Chic: Ekstrem muskelakkumulation som æstetisk ideal inden for professional bodybuilding

Translated title of the contribution: Freak Chic: Extreme accumulation of muscle as aesthetic ideal in professional bodybuilding

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

The article explores professional male bodybuilding as historically characterised by bodies’ continuous growth. Until a few decades ago, bodybuilders were associated with a more widely accepted ideal of muscular masculinity, a conception of male beauty that recalls J. J. Winckelmann’s aesthetic ideal of proportion and harmony. Such association has become unimaginable in recent decades. Since at least the 1990s, professional bodybuilders have strived for a ‘Post-Classic ideal’, built their bodies to resemble a ‘shredded mass’ of muscle and sometimes self-identified as ‘freaks’ or ‘monsters’.

In the article, I contextualise this rejection of mainstream beauty in contemporary bodybuilding with the increasing normalisation of fitness culture since the 1970s. As ‘going to the gym’ became a mainstream activity, bodybuilding differentiated itself by developing significantly larger bodies and became an increasingly subcultural activity. I suggest two parameters as central in this development: a synthetic ideal and an aesthetics of accumulation.

The dynamic aesthetics of competitive muscle accumulation recalls a capitalist logic of ‘more is more’ and apparently over-emphasizes gender normativity. Yet, I aim to show in the article that in their hyperbolic performances for purely aesthetic purposes, contemporary male bodybuilders simultaneously undermine these very ideals.
Translated title of the contributionFreak Chic: Extreme accumulation of muscle as aesthetic ideal in professional bodybuilding
Original languageDanish
JournalPeriskop
Volume2019
Issue number22
Pages (from-to)78-93
ISSN0908-6919
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this