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Title: Gains, juice and bikinis : an ethnographic exploration of women's use of anabolic-androgenic steriods and growth hormone in bodybuilding
Author: McLean, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 792X
Awarding Body: Liverpool John Moores University
Current Institution: Liverpool John Moores University
Date of Award: 2020
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This doctoral thesis explores the lived experience of women who engage in the sport of bodybuilding (BB). In doing so it seeks to determine the role of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) used to increase muscularity within this hard to reach population. Anabolic androgenic steroids (AAS) and growth hormone (GH) are used to enhance performance and are associated with adverse cardiovascular, hepatic and psychological effects. The use of such illicit market drugs prompts concerns surrounding contamination, the transmission of blood borne viruses and the potential for inaccurate dosage and labelling. The latter is particularly noteworthy for women for whom the dose response curve is markedly steep with respect to androgenic side effects, some of which are irreversible. Traditionally a male domain, women’s BB is currently enjoying an increase in popularity due to the rise of the fitness competitor and the gradual shift towards a lean and muscular ideal in mainstream culture. However, there is a paucity of data pertaining to women’s experiences of PED use within this context and given the potential health concerns associated with them; there is a need for research to underpin suitable public health initiatives for this population. This thesis forms the first steps in informing an appropriate response in the UK. This research draws upon an eighteen-month ethnographic study, which comprised in depth interviews and extensive participant observation, which included a significant auto ethnographic element. By illustrating BB culture, the research situates the decision-making process and justifications surrounding AAS and GH use in women engaging competitively in this sport. It also highlights the rituals and practices embedded in the culture and considers how these influence health and the uptake and engagement with primary and secondary health care settings. Through the application of Bourdieu’s concept of capital, the thesis illustrates that within the context of BB culture and competitive involvement, the decision to AAS and GH is normal and logical. It also exposes the fine line women must tread in order to avoid deviant labelling by both outsiders and members of the community. The research also proposes untapped resources with respect to public health engagement in the form of key cultural members, whose capital resource and field position grant them authority and influence with respect to BB practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine