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Justine J. Reel and Emily Crouch

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Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel

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.

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Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel

The number of studies examining eating disorders and body image in sport has increased, although several major challenges associated with conducting this research must be addressed to continue growth. In this paper, we describe these challenges based on our professional experiences and the academic literature. Mistrust of researchers and the area of study, communication gaps, and factors that affect data quality are among the strong barriers discussed. However, we suggest that these challenges may be addressed by building stronger partnerships between researchers and practitioners and offer critical steps for developing meaningful professional relationships that will help move the field forward.

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Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel

The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to examine male competitive figure skaters’ experiences of weight pressure in sport. Specifically, male skaters’ perceptions of the ideal skating body, sources of weight pressure in elite figure skating, and the perceived role of their sport in shaping body image, athletic performance, eating, and exercise behaviors were explored. Through a social constructivist lens, an inductive thematic analysis was used to examine the contextual influences of the skating environment. Thirteen male figure skaters ages 16–24 (M = 18.53, SD = 3.33) with an average 10.38 years of skating experience (SD = 4.05) were interviewed. Skaters identified the parameters for the ideal body in skating along with specific weight pressures, body image concerns, and weight management strategies. Similar to female skaters, male skaters perceived that body image affected psychological factors that influence sport performance. Sport psychologists and consultants should be attentive to the skating environment and how specific performance and appearance demands may influence an athlete’s mindset.

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Justine J. Reel and Diane L. Gill

Seventy-three college female and 84 high school female cheerleaders participated in the current study on eating disorders and pressures within cheerleading. The participants completed the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), the Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS), and CHEER, a measure developed by the authors to identify pressures within cheerleading. A one-way MANOVA indicated significant differences between high school and college cheerleaders on CHEER and SPAS. Correlational analyses revealed a strong relation between SPAS, body dissatisfaction scores, and eating behavior, suggesting that body image is an important predictor for eating disorders in cheerleaders. Moreover, although high school cheerleaders reported fewer pressures than their college counterparts, they exhibited greater body dissatisfaction and disordered eating patterns.

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Dana K. Voelker and Justine J. Reel

Figure skaters experience pressure associated with their sport to change their body weight, shape, or size to meet appearance and performance expectations. Figure skaters may experience different body-related expectations based on gender despite performing in identical or similar training and competition environments. In a qualitative investigation that examined body pressure experiences of male skaters, participants discussed some of their struggles, but seemed compelled to discuss, unexpectedly, the plight of female skaters in facing the skating body ideal. The present findings represent an exploratory analysis of qualitative data elucidating the body pressure experiences of female skaters through the eyes of male skaters. Participants were 13 competitive male figure skaters ages 16–24 (M = 18.53). Analyzed using a social constructivist and critical perspective, the results demonstrated the salience of body pressures for female skaters and afforded insight into sociocultural and historical factors that influence how male and female skaters experience their bodies differently in a skating context. Male skaters reported they faced less extreme body pressures, had certain physical advantages, and tended to be more confident than female skaters, which underscored a gendered body pressure experience. This work explores the intersections of gender and power within figure skating and examines body image concerns and unhealthy eating and exercise behaviors as a larger social justice issue that serves to encourage similar investigations in other sports.