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This study analyzed the reactions of college women athletes to mass media images of nude and scantily clad professional female athletes. The study focused on interviews of 18- to 22-year-old female athletes about the pressure on women to pose for sexualized photographs. Using a feminist framework, the study found that some of the college athletes rejected socially constructed concepts of femininity, others criticized the professional athletes for posing, and others accepted socially constructed standards of beauty. This research suggests that young women athletes are conflicted by the images of femininity presented by mass media and react in complex ways to them.
The authors are with the Mayborn School of Journalism, University of North Texas, Denton, TX.