Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
The present study examined potentially positive and negative influences within the athletic environment on body image and weight management in female athletes. Nearly 300 female varsity athletes, recruited on-line from six Division III colleges and universities in Ohio, completed questionnaires assessing body image, weight management, dieting frequency, and sources of pressure and support from coaches, teammates, and the sport itself (e.g., sport-specific body ideals, uniforms). Findings indicated that potentially unhealthy messages about weight and shape are emanating from numerous sources, and that those athletes reporting cumulative, simultaneous pressures reported more body concern, a higher frequency of dieting, and all types of weight management behaviors, including healthy weight management. There was only limited evidence for the role of support from teammates and coaches in relation to body image and weight management behaviors. Multiple regression analyses indicated that the relationships between pressures within the sports environment and negative body concerns were partially mediated by increased adherence to, and social comparison with, sport-specific weight and shape ideals, as well as a decreased sense of body empowerment. However, trait self-objectification was not a mediator. These results are discussed in terms of implications for prevention and for improving theory and research on the impact of teammates, coaches, sport-specific body ideals, and form-fitting, revealing uniforms. There is also consideration of how weight and shape pressures from the athlete environment may be operating in ways that diverge from other societal influences on body image and weight management behaviors in the general population of young women.
Erickson, Nora, "Female athletes and the sport environment: positive and negative influences on body image and weight management" (2010). Honors Theses. 25.