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When Eugen Sandow, the father of modern bodybuilding, toured New Zealand in the summer of 1902-03, his aim was to reshape the nation. Long before the likes of Charles Atlas peddled mail order muscle programmes, the Sandow System was embraced by men throughout New Zealand. Eager to flex and pose and dream of a new male order, these men joined local gyms, entered bodybuilding contests, and even strutted their stuff in local beauty competitions. In this lecture, Dr Caroline Daley reveals the bodies of early twentieth century men and questions whether our fixation with rugby players, farmers and soldiers means we’re missing the pleasure that comes from gazing upon the world’s most perfectly developed man and his local acolytes.
This lecture is the third in a four-part series, Manpower Lectures: Antiquity, aesthetes and athleticism.