"Your body is your business card": Bodily capital and health authority in the fitness industry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although scholars have noted the connection between appearance and assumptions of health, the degree to which these assumptions matter for establishing authority in social interaction remains less clear. Using a theoretical framework involving "bodily capital"-that is, the value generated from appearance, attractiveness, and physical ability-I investigate the role of appearance in the U.S. fitness industry. Drawing on data from interviews with 26 personal trainers and 25 clients between 2010 and 2011, I find that a trainer's fit-appearing physique imbues their interactions with a degree of moral and health authority. This corporeal credibility engenders trust among clients and allows exercise to be understood as a form of health work. The implications for academics and medical practitioners reach beyond the gym setting and extend recent research linking appearance to health, authority, and medical credibility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-71
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume90
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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