The body images of female athletes
Murchington, Jemma Juliet
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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This study seeks to investigate the relationship between female body image and the type of sport participated in. The subjects range on a continuum of performers involved in predominantly masculine sports through to ultra feminine sports. The data was gathered using qualitative methods, specifically semi-structured interviews. The way women view their body and the associated issues regarding the socialisation process and femininity are of great interest to research, when these aspects are synthesized a greater understanding on the pressures female athletes are susceptible to is apparent. Within this research three combining factors were discussed in detail, how individuals in society are socialised into gender expectations, understanding and defining body image, and how it is used by the media, and finally how individual sports and their gender appropriateness are classified. The research looks into detail at how the participants feel they are viewed by those external to the sporting world and then discuss what affect this has on the way they view their personal body image. Included within this are discussions on discrimination received and why this varies dependant on sport type. The results suggest the particular sport participated in does have an effect on self confidence and body image, with subjects in predominantly male sports receiving derogatory implications concerning their sexuality. This in turn has impacted on their personal body image. Further analysis on the implications of such findings are also discussed
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