About Krista Scott-Dixon

“What Do Cyborgs Eat?”: Bodybuilders and the Logic of Nonfood

Introduction: Food and Nonfood

In the movie “The Matrix“, Lawrence Fishburne’s character tells Keanu Reeves’ character, as the two dig into bowls of beige mush, that the foundation of their futuristic diet is “single-celled proteins [huh?] with a complete profile of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.” Sound familiar? Have you looked into your blender recently?

In this article I will be examining some metaphors of food and eating to see what they can tell us about the “nonfood” that bodybuilders eat. I define “nonfood” somewhat loosely, but generally I take it to mean artificially created and/or highly processed food substances such as protein powders, MRPs, amino acid pills, and anything else that can be purchased from a supplement company. Essentially, nonfood is any substance which has undergone a significant degree of human mediation, and which is consumed for fuel or specific physical goals (e.g. muscle mass gain) instead of gustatory pleasure. Of course the boundaries between food and nonfood are very blurry (as are the boundaries between “foods”, “supplements” and “drugs”). I recognize that this definition is largely for the purpose of argument.

This article is not meant as a critique of nonfood—since I too consume it as part of my training—but rather as an examination of its symbolic potential in relation to how we think about our bodies. [Read more…]

Cyborgs in the Gym: The Technopolitics of Female Muscle

My general argument in this paper is that, contrary to the popular view of it as merely a simpleminded pursuit for large, oddly shaped, animated pieces of meat, bodybuilding is a scientific and technological practice. The bodybuilder not only conceives of her body as a site to be disciplined through various chemical and mechanical technologies, but as a collection of discrete parts distinguished from the whole, which can be individually manipulated. Thus I suggest that the bodybuilder is a cyborg. In her article, “A Cyborg Manifesto”, Donna Haraway attempts to create what she calls “an ironic political myth” which combines postmodernism with socialist feminism. Central to her myth is the image of the cyborg, which is “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.” The cyborg for Haraway is both a metaphor for the postmodernist and political play of identity and a lived reality of new technology. [Read more…]

Female Bodybuilders, Fitness Competitors and the Crisis of Representation

This article is not just about female bodybuilders or fitness competitors. It is not about who is posing where and how. It is not about who is more feminine, athletic, sexy, muscular, or appropriate. It is about the creation, maintenance, and representation of a so-called crisis.

Avid watchers of physical culture, or anyone who reads mainstream muscle mags on the Stairmaster, will know that in recent years a “crisis” has been introduced into the world of women’s bodybuilding. This crisis is, of course, the appearance of fitness competitors, who are lauded by supporters as providing an athletic yet feminine alternative to ungainly and androgynous female bodybuilders, and criticized by detractors as being little more than pectorally amplified lingerie racks. [Read more…]

The Bodybuilding Grotesque: The Female Bodybuilder, Gender Transgression, and Designations of Deviance

The other day I received some email from a man who had visited my women’s weightlifting website. He was so emphatic in his pronouncement that he felt he had to send the message twice, once with the content in the subject line just in case I missed it the first time. His important missive, in entirety: “Muscular women look gross.” After some digestion of these four words, I realized that in an idiot-savant sort of way, this individual had summed up a great deal of material about gender construction, the categorization of deviance, and the role of the grotesque in the gender presentation of female bodybuilders. [Read more…]