“Following the Straight and Narrow”: An Exploratory Study of Lesbophobia and Eating Disorder Symptomatology among Lesbian Athletes

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 California State University—Long Beach
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore internalized lesbophobia and eating disorder symptomatology among lesbian current and former athletes and the possible link between the two phenomena. In-depth interviews were conducted with 15 physically active adult lesbians who had at least 10 years of athletic experience. Lesbophobia was defined as the internalization of society’s negative attitudes and assumptions regarding lesbianism. Eating disorder symptomatology was defined as attitudes and behaviors associated with eating pathology (e.g., body dissatisfaction, weight preoccupation, fat phobia, frequent dieting, fasting, bingeing/purging, and other weight control measures). Findings suggested a connection between internalized lesbophobia and eating disorder symptomatology, that is, individuals who expressed greater negativity associated with being a lesbian, particularly concerns about being perceived as lesbian, reported more body dissatisfaction, weight preoccupation, fat phobia, and other eating disordered attitudes and behaviors. The social implications of these findings are discussed.

Sharon R. Guthrie California State University-Long Beach 6 Via Auta Raucho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 Email: casteln@aol.com Phone: (949) 459-5759 Fax: (562) 985-8067

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