Men’s performance and image-enhancing drug use as self-transformation: working out in makeover culture

J. R. Latham, Suzanne Fraser, Renae Fomiatti, David Moore, Kate Seear, Campbell Aitken

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This article investigates how men who inject performance and image-enhancing drugs (PIEDs) describe their experiences of embodiment and masculinity, locating that analysis in the context of contemporary ‘makeover culture’ and the imperatives of self-transformation. Drawing on qualitative data from interviews we conducted with 60 men who inject PIEDs in Australia, our analysis suggests there is a pragmatic logic associated with PIED use that challenges much research concerning this population, which tends to pathologise men who use PIEDs as disordered in their relationship to their bodies and cultural norms of masculinity. We unpack how the men interviewed describe everyday practices of doing gender in the context of illicit drug use, the implications in normative understandings of maleness and masculinity, and how PIED consumption practices encouraged particular attention to working on the self. Our findings suggest that drug injecting practices can be understood as forms of self-transformation in makeover culture that have the potential to make new, unexpected possibilities for being in the world, and can inform harm reduction measures, including the de-stigmatisation of drug use more broadly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-164
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Feminist Studies
Issue number100
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • care of the self
  • drugs
  • gender norms
  • makeover culture
  • masculinity
  • performance and image-enhancing drugs
  • Steroids

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