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Media images depicting idealized female physiques have been shown to heighten body dissatisfaction and body objectification. A potentially buffering factor in media exposure are depictions of female athletes performing their sports, which are associated with reduced objectification. These findings have not been extended to social physique anxiety (SPA), a heightened concern that one’s body does not meet comparative standards of physicality and beauty. Sixty-nine college-aged women reported levels of SPA following exposure to images of the same female professional athletes performing their sport, or in a sexualized pose. Visual attention to body parts on the images was measured via an eye tracker to explore whether fixations corresponded with the experience of SPA. Performance images lowered feelings of SPA relative to sexual images, and induced a lesser percentage of time visually fixating on the head/face, and more time fixating on arms and legs, relative to sexual images of the athletes. No differences emerged for fixations on the torso across conditions. Exploratory mediation models were also conducted to explore the influence of visual attention on the relationship between image type and SPA. These findings are considered in light of the nature of objectifying images of women and the importance of promoting empowering images to audiences.