Religio-cultural ideals of women’s body shapes: A review of black women’s engagement with bodybuilding
This article provides an overview of existing literature around the conceptions of women’s engagement in the sport of bodybuilding. It aims to explore specifically how religious and cultural conceptions of black women’s bodies influence their engagement in bodybuilding, with a particular focus on Zulu Christian women. The review foregrounds debates on how, although a previously male-dominated sport, women all around the world are becoming prevalent participators in the sport. It provides a general perspective of the conceptions of women’s engagement in bodybuilding from a western world-view and links it to how black women’s bodies are conceptualised from an African perspective. This review is part of a larger study in Gender, Religion and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights and the themes and concepts covered by the literature review, emanate from the intersections of the above three focus areas, respectively. Although most of the literature in the field of women’s engagement in bodybuilding pertains to white female bodybuilders, certain concepts can be generalised and related to the context of black female bodybuilders, Zulu, Christian female bodybuilders in particular.