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Picture of Empowered Femininity

Empowered Femininity

The Textual Construction of Femininity in Women’s Fitness Magazines

Author(s): Tracy Rundstrom Williams

Book Description

Women in the first decades of the 21st century encounter competing ideologies of femininity. This book traces the existence of two such ideologies – traditional femininity and resistant femininity – in language, in women’s magazines, and in relation to the body. The book then uses a Discourse Analysis of women’s fitness magazines to investigate how these ideologies, or discourses, are encoded and ultimately merged into a single discourse of femininity.

The extremely thin female body encodes traditional femininity in that it represents social values of beauty, smallness, and others-orientation, but it also encodes resistant femininity in that it represents determination, dedication, and strength. Similarly, fitness instructional texts from women’s fitness magazines demonstrate a hybrid discourse which integrates the language of traditional femininity and the language of resistant femininity. This hybrid discourse, which the author calls empowered femininity, appears as a seamless combination of the two “parent” discourses by placing itself in the middle of a continuum between traditional femininity and resistant femininity through two themes: limited achievement and celebrating objectification. The empowered femininity discourse also supports a sociological trend of many women wanting to balance competing demands of portraying highly valued but traditionally male traits while still being seen as traditionally feminine.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-4078-1
ISBN-10: 1-4438-4078-5
Date of Publication: 01/10/2012
Pages / Size: 105 / A5
Price: £39.99


Tracy Rundstrom Williams is the Associate Director of the Center for International Studies at Texas Christian University. Her publications include “Examine Your LENS: A Tool for Interpreting Cultural Differences,” “The Reflective Model of Intercultural Competency: A Multidimensional, Qualitative Approach to Study Abroad Assessment,” and “Linguistic Politeness in Expressing Condolences: A Case Study.”