Author Archives: Jamie Sherman

Jamie Sherman holds an M.A. in Gender, Performance, and Religion from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study (2003) and a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Princeton University (2011). Her most recent research is on emergent and shifting practices of body, self, and technology in contemporary US society. She should be working harder to complete her ethnography of play, pain and self-transformation at an “all natural” bodybuilding gym in Brooklyn, NY, but instead she is reading and commenting on blogs.

On Being a “Natural” Human

Bodybuilders, split between “all natural bodybuilders” and those who, in failing to specify, are marked out as “drug” bodybuilders, are explicit about both the health consequences of using growth hormones and steroids, and the fact that they are absolutely necessary to success. “All natural” I was told, “is dead.” “You can’t get anywhere without taking drugs.” Yet these same interlocutors also told me that “drug bodies are fake.” With drugs the muscles are not “you,” “it’s just this skinny little guy in a muscle suit.” Setting aside, for a moment, the fact that “you” is always a “guy,” though when this conversation took place we had actually been talking about women, I want to think/talk/write for a moment about the tension, the distance between fake and winning bodies. I come to this discussion out of the excellent recent post by Chris Furlow on competitive cycling. Chris suggests that discourse amongst (more...)