"Does my bum look big in this?": The impact of the pressures to adhere to the unwritten rules of feminine beauty on female trampoline-gymnasts at UWIC Academy
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Speculation suggests gymnasts are required to meet specific aesthetic requirements and take part in dramatic behavioural and lifestyle changes to meet high standards of feminine beauty. The purpose of the investigation was to deduce what impacts elite female trampoline-gymnasts experience due to the pressures to adhere to unwritten rules of femininity. Using Foucault’s Panopticon metaphor (1975) and Bourdieu’s theory of Habitus (1990b), a feminist-cultural studies framework was employed to further the knowledge behind the relationships between female trampoline-gymnasts and body ideologies. Participants [n=4] engaged in in-depth interviews regarding their eating patterns, body image, feminine ideals and competition attire. Results revealed that universally the ideal figure desired was dangerous and unrealistic: skinny with no excess fat. Due to feelings of a Panopticon gaze and imprisonment, the impacts of the pressures to appear feminine proved to be mainly negative. Disordered eating, negative body image, low self-esteem and financial anxiety due to purchasing new clothing to feel accepted within training groups were impacts experienced. The research concluded that although the gymnastics world enhances the desires and pressures to be considered ‘feminine’, they may occur naturally within Western society. Future rule changes regarding attire may improve gymnasts’ experiences within their sport and help them to feel more accepted. For a greater reflection regarding impacts experienced by trampolinegymnasts, further research needs to be conducted using a comprehensive widespread participant sample.
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