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Body Projects: Making, Remaking, and Inhabiting the Woman’s Futebol Body in Brazil

Drawing on data from an experiential ethnographic project undertaken in Brazil, this paper explores how gender is being experienced and negotiated by women football players within the context of the game’s incorporation into Western capitalism. Acceptance of women into this historically male sport is growing and opportunities are increasing, but access is heavily contingent on compliance with a new ‘hyper-feminized’ ideal of Western athletic femininity. Through empirical data, we look at the embodied experiences of a small cohort of professional women football players as they navigate this shifting terrain in Brazil. This paper explores the discrepancies between representation and lived experience and the implications for agency, empowerment, and self-expression among players as they confront new forms of constraint being imposed on their bodies. Through this microcosm of women’s football, we get a glimpse at how global restructuring along the lines of Western capitalist development is affecting bodies and minds.