Cadernos de Saúde Pública
Print version ISSN 0102-311X
IRIART, Jorge Alberto Bernstein; CHAVES, José Carlos and ORLEANS, Roberto Ghignone de. Body cult and use of anabolic steroids by bodybuilders. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2009, vol.25, n.4, pp. 773-782. ISSN 0102-311X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2009000400008.
This study focused on the reasons for practicing bodybuilding and the use of anabolic steroids, as well as the social representations and uses of the body among bodybuilding steroid users. This ethnographic study involved participant observation in middle and lower-class bodybuilding gyms in Salvador, Bahia State, Brazil, and 43 in-depth interviews with steroid users. Aesthetic reasons are the main motivation for bodybuilding and steroid use in both middle and lower-class users. Dissatisfaction with one's real body as compared to the ideal standard flaunted by the mass media, fear of being devalued or shunned by one's peer groups, the symbolic capital associated with a "pumped-up" body, and the sense of immediacy in obtaining results all contributed to steroid use. Preventive campaigns are needed, targeting young people and combining a critical view and deconstruction of the values assigned to the body by consumer society, counteracted by high-quality information on the health risks associated with anabolic steroid use.
Keywords : Anabolic Agents; Exercise; Body Image.