The Female Athlete’s Body Image

Research indicates that participation in sports can be beneficial for female adolescents, with physical benefits, positive effects on educational achievement and mental health, and reduction in risky behaviors. The relationship between athletics, body image and methods of weight control (including pathogenic techniques such as diet aids, laxatives, vomiting and fasting) is less consistently positive. This paper examines the effects of sports participation on perceptions of body size and weight loss strategies among adolescent females.

This paper will suggest that sports continue to be a gendered arena and that girls’ involvement in feminine sports may exacerbate body image and dieting problems associated with stereotypically feminine gender roles, while involvement in sports that are less likely to reinforce these roles may have positive effects. This paper will reiterate the need for our culture to challenge and expand traditional gender roles, and raise important issues for educational institutions, athletic organizations, coaches and parents in addressing the challenges facing teenage girls in their attempts to develop good physical and mental health.

The research in this paper will examine studies showing how strongly social expectations and socially determined sex roles limit participation of adolescent and adult females in physical activity. The paper will discuss ways in which cultural pressures are reflected in female behavior in starting in elementary school physical-education classes and then potential body image issues. Based on research and on observations of behavior at an elementary school, this paper will suggest possible changes in the physical education curriculum that can encourage activity for girls and help them connect it to positive social experience.

This could decrease the risk of adult obesity, physical illnesses and other issues related to body image. Sports statistics show that many that females’ drop out of healthy exercise once they have left the educational setting (Harper, 2008). Many girls and young women have taken on unhealthy nutritional habits such as calorie restriction, bingeing and purging maintaining an ideal thin shape as identified by images found in society today.

The role that society plays in shaping these images, show that thinness is considered essential to beauty especially for health in general. Morality for girls and young women were also equated particularly with strict ideas on how to be a lady as viewed in mass media. These phenomenons have lead to the traditional ideas about femininity and negative attitudes, regarding girls not to participate in physical activities in front of crowd.

The social value connected with not having social approval has caused difficulty with girls realizing that it society has the issue and not them. This was different from men who were encouraged to be interested in activity and then to confidence. The discover that stereotypic femininity requires delicate restrained movements may engage in activities coded for girls who choose sports that appear less masculine would receive encouragement to participate in them instead.

Robinson believes that this is an important part of the larger competitive value placed on participation as competition is something boys only do. Girls who receive encouragement and adult females to role model themselves and receive different attitudes on how they present themselves. Robinson describes women’s eating disorders where they are concerned about their physical appearance in unrealistic manner or judging themselves.

It seems decision that the cause of anorexic or bulimic can have a negative impact on one’s self-realization. Insecurity about a social and developmental in exercise classes on weight stronger among racial minorities. Researchers who have looked exclusively at women athletes have tended to study more traditional female sports such as figure skating, dance, and gymnastics. (Robinson, 2004) Unfortunately, the studies of all females’ athletes are not totally accurate as not all sports have been included in the studies.

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