Imperfect perfection and wheelchair bodybuilding: challenging ableism or reproducing normalcy?

Sparkes, A., Brighton, J. and Inckle, K. (2017) Imperfect perfection and wheelchair bodybuilding: challenging ableism or reproducing normalcy? Sociology. (In Press)

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Abstract

This article explores the impact of the binary configuration of disabled bodies as opposite and unequal to able bodies, and whether or not contemporary bodybuilding provides a space where this dualism can be overcome.

Drawing on life history interviews with Dan, a professional wheelchair bodybuilder, we consider how his hyper-muscular upper body may position him as a supercrip and thereby reinforce bodily and gender norms. Simultaneously, Dan's powerful, disabled body and a competitive context that applies standard judgment criteria across all bodies potentially subverts this normative configuration. We reflect on the contradictions engendered by Dan’s corporeality by drawing on notions of the bodybuilder as body-garde involved in a process of enfreakment that disrupts and transcends contemporary bodily ideals. Here, variable self-reflexive bodybuilding projects can accommodate contingent conceptualisations of perfection, including disability, with implications for disabled bodies and identities more broadly.

Key words: body-garde, disability, enfreakment, perfection, contemporary bodybuilding, wheelchair bodybuilding.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Body-garde; disability; enfreakment; perfection; contemporary bodybuilding; wheelchair bodybuilding
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Human and Life Sciences
Depositing User: James Brighton
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2017 13:02
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2017 08:53
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16341

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00