Milk, Modernity, and Muscles: Raw Milk and Bodybuilding in 1960s America

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Abstract

In the mid-1960s, highly regarded bodybuilding coach named Vince Gironda, began promoting raw milk among his clients. Done alongside nutritional supplement entrepreneur Rheo H. Blair, the two men claimed that raw (meaning unpasteurised) milk was the most anabolic and ‘pure’ substance available to men seeking to build muscle and strength in equal measure. Accordingly, raw milk and cream were presented as just, if not more effective than the newly emergent anabolic steroids used by professional bodybuilders. In the past, studies of milk, and raw milk, have often focused on the manufacturing, trading, and politics involved in the production of these products. Few studies, however, have associated milk with masculinity in the same way that scholars have done for meat. Addressing this gap in the literature, this article examines Gironda and Blair’s nutritional plans with reference to issues of modernity and masculinity. Surveying training programs, magazine articles, personal correspondences and advertising materials, the article highlights the hyper-realized masculine bodies and personalities linked to the consumption of raw milk. The interactions between food, gender, modernity and public health are thus explored through the prism of bodybuilding diets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGender & History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Jul 2022

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