It’s all about the six-pack: Boys’ bodies in contemporary Western culture

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    11 Citations (Scopus)


    This is an article about boys and their construction of masculinities. It draws on 5 years of qualitative research data from the same group of boys from early childhood through to 10 years of age in an attempt to articulate the way in which boys come to view their bodies, and other male bodies, in contemporary Western culture. The research is based on focus groups and is a part of a longitudinal study with the same cohort of boys, at a school in Adelaide, Australia. The data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis to identify key emergent themes. The results indicate that there is an emerging trend among boys from early childhood through to middle primary school surrounding the acknowledgement of male body aesthetics as a signifier of being male. The use of terminology such as ‘six-pack’ is now commonplace among all of the groups. The consistency around muscularity as a signifier of being a man was very high among the boys of all ages. It is clear that greater emphasis needs to be placed on younger males’ and boys’ awareness of the meaning of the male body in contemporary Western society.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)423-431
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Child Health Care
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • Focus groups
    • health promotion
    • qualitative approaches


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