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In this study, the authors examined female competitive figure skaters’ experiences of weight pressure in sport. Perceptions of the ideal skating body; sources of weight pressure; ways that body image, weight-management behaviors, and athletic performance have been affected; and recommendations for improving body image were explored. Aligning with a social constructivist view (Creswell, 2014), data were analyzed using an inductive thematic approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Skaters described the ideal skating body in an inflexible fashion with little room for deviation and acceptance of body diversity. Skaters cited their first weightpressure experience between 7 and 14 years of age, which most notably involved coaches, parents, skating partners, and other aspects of the skating culture. These experiences were characterized as promoting body-image concerns, unhealthy weight-management strategies, and interference with the psychological aspects of on-ice performance. Results from this study demonstrate the need to construct and maintain body-positive skating environments.
Voelker is with the Dept. of Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV. Reel is with the College of Health and Human Services, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.