Represented Body Aesthetic

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 69-75)

4.1 Female Runner’s Self-Empowerment in the Media

4.1.3 Represented Body Aesthetic

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4.1.3 Represented body aesthetic

“Body aesthetic is a result of culture; different cultures produce different bodies.”

Chiang Hsun (2008), Body Aesthetic

Body is fundamental to sport. In the modern era, body has become a gendered

vehicle, such that the female sporting body is now an object to be gazed upon. In today’s

society, the female body is expected to be slender, attractive, and strongly feminine. In

this section, I look closely at the kind of female body aesthetic represented in the media,

including in terms of muscle curves, skin color, hairstyle, and outfit.

In female road running publications, the appearance of females is highly feminine.

Muscles curves are not very apparent, but not completely missing, especially when it

comes to calf and upper arm muscles. The female figure looks physically fit and healthy.

Bordo (2004) has suggested that nowadays women are expected to maintain a body

figure that looks like an “athlete”, such as by engaging in certain diet regimes and

muscle training, thereby assigning a new interpretation to the word “femininity”. In

other words, modern women desire a lean and slender body shape. Female road running

books pay a lot of attention to muscular curves, such as in Girl’s Running Training

Protection Book, where it is mentioned that running contributes to fat burning, as well

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as helps improve body shape. By stretching fully, girls can avoid acquiring muscular

calves. It is clear that females are frightened of emerging from their exercise routine

with too much muscle, and thereby losing their femininity. In Run! Girls Run, similar

concerns are raised in the frequently asked questions section, such as “does running

make my calf thicker?” This appears to be an important issue for many women and also

a key factor in whether they want to start running or not. Therefore, specific muscle

curves, including in the calves, are not popular in Taiwanese female road running

publications.

When it comes to skin color, fair skin with little make up is most commonly

pictured. This white skin tinged with red would appear to be what female road running

books actively emphasize, and might be called the sunscreen concept. Especially in

Asian countries, the traditional perspective is that “a white complexion hides all flaws”.

Sunburned, tanned or red skin is the last thing a female runner wants. After all, fair skin

is the skin color that most Taiwanese women pursue.

Girl’s Running Training Protection Book devotes much attention to hair care and what kind of hairstyle is appropriate during running. Most of the females pictured have

long hair in a ponytail. From beginning to end, women seem to be offered all kinds of

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techniques for coping with their body and their femininity. In female road running

books, road running is constructed as a highly feminine sports. However, in general

road running publications, females do not possess strong femininity.

Women in general road running publications do not have any distinguishing

features relating to their appearance. Their muscle curves are concentrated in their

abdomen, lower limbs and arms. There is no consistent body figure, but most bodies

are depicted as firm and strong. For example, in Daniel’s Running Formula, 3rd Edition,

there are general female runners whose body shapes are slim and firm, as well as middle

aged females whose lower limbs are beefy. As a result, there is no particular standard

for muscle curves. As for skin color, general road running magazines also do not

promote just one skin pigment; there is a spectrum from fair to brown. In general road

running books, on the other hand, due to their black and white printing, skin color is

barely visible. Nevertheless, judging by the presence of different races, there appear to

be at least two kinds of skin color, white and black. Therefore, one skin color is not

preferred over another, and there are no particular descriptions of how to maintain skin

and hair. There are two hairstyles, long and short hair, and hair is often in a ponytail.

No images of women in these publications appear to be about body curve or appearance.

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As a result, females in general road running publications appear to be very normal

without any particular features. This has a lot to do with the degree of perceived

importance of the sportswear on show.

The most significant distinction between these two publication categories (female

vs. general) is the different level of emphasis on clothes and accessories. Female road

running publications go to great length to underline the importance of sportswear and

related sports gear. From sun hats to running shoes, sportswear must suit the four

seasons. The models in the books change between three to five sportswear outfits as a

demonstration. By contrast, in general road running books, clothing is plain and simple,

and usually there is just one outfit used throughout the whole book. There are also no

outfit matching tutorials, because the wearing of clothes is not considered to be the

main point. As is evident from the fact that women in general road running magazines

often appear in during or after marathon poses, clothing is focused on function rather

than style. Previous studies have criticized the consumerist society of the modern era.

The emergence of many lifestyle sports have provided a meeting place for fashion and

individualism, leading to products being created to differentiate classes. A beautiful

body has come to denote a successful life. Therefore, a discourse that encourages

women to participate in sports has been the cunning scheme of globalized multinational

corporations. Their final goal has been to encourage women to purchase their products

based on branding. However, post-feminism considers it to be the case that only through

consuming can women reach the goal of empowerment and a sense of self pleasure.

Clothing, as a personal politics, has at once been constructed by society, as well as

represents an individual’s sphere of discourse. This happens to coincide with one

interviewee’s (R01) understanding of female road running: “showing personal style is

one important feature of female road running”. In short, female road running has been

influenced by the media and corporations, and created a means of expressing identity

through clothing. In other words, it has become an opportunity to assert, “I show,

therefore I am” through the adorning of sportswear.

Table 10: Body aesthetic in road running publications

Muscle curves Skin color Hairstyle Sportswear General road

Besides the body aesthetic described above, another body feature of note is Gin

Oy’s tattoos. According to Gin Oy’s explanation in her book, the reason why she

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decided to get tattoos was because she missed her father, and also as she wanted to

record the period in her life when she suffered from an inferiority complex and engaged

in anti-social behavior. The positions of her tattoos on her neck and arms are very

obvious. The bright color of the tattoos means you can barely ignore their existence.

There is a long history of stigma against tattoos in Taiwan as they represent rebellion

and gang culture. Nevertheless, Gin Oy is a respected figure in the Taiwanese female

road running scene. Will her body tattoos mark the beginning of Taiwanese women

accepting tattoos as a body aesthetic? While the answer to this question cannot be

known in the short term, the long-term acceptance of tattoos may be one way in which

mainstream body aesthetics begin to be resisted.

Tattoos are not part of the ideal body aesthetic favored by men when it comes to

the female body. In other words, Gin Oy’s body is not a female body to be gazed upon.

Her tattoos show her vivid, strong personal style, making them totally differ from the

traditional tattoo’s meaning of rebellion and gangs.

To sum up, the highly feminine body in female road running publications takes

sportswear as a means of self-expression and identity, and a symbol of a female pleasing

herself. Having analyzed how women are represented by the media, it is important to

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understand how female road running has arisen. To do so, describing the relationship

between different road running actors is essential. In the next section, I will discuss how

sporting goods manufacturers, sponsors and media producers have constructed

Taiwan’s female road running scene together.

在文檔中 女生跑起來! 企業、媒體與路跑中的女性 - 政大學術集成 (頁 69-75)