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Managing the BodyBeauty, Health, and Fitness in Britain 1880-1939$
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Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280520

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280520.001.0001

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Reconstructing the Male Body

Reconstructing the Male Body

(p.193) 5 Reconstructing the Male Body
Managing the Body

Ina Zweiniger‐Bargielowska

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the reconstruction of the male body against the background of wartime casualties and revelations of extensive unfitness by the National Service Medical Boards. Men's military fitness was linked with their usefulness as workers and citizens and the healthy and beautiful A1 citizen was held up as an ideal. Apart from stunted unfit men, obese sedentary businessman represented an alternative countertype. They were urged to reduce to regain hegemonic masculinity. The iconic status of the fit male body became a powerful national symbol during the interwar years and the chapter discusses the relationship between fascism and the physical culture movement. There were competing conceptions of masculinity. Most physical culturalists eschewed the hyper‐masculine misogynist fascist man and they embraced greater companionship between the sexes. Men's dress reformers extolled the new female fashions as hygienic and attributed men's resistance to change their attire to vanity.

Keywords:   male body, masculinity, fitness, beauty, citizenship, physical culture, fascism, obesity, reducing, men's dress reform

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