Body Image Theme Issue
Justine J. Reel and Sonya SooHoo
Exploring Body Image and Body Mass Index of Male and Female Special Olympics Athletes
Justine J. Reel, Robert A. Bucciere, and Sonya SooHoo
Individuals with intellectual disabilities are largely marginalized within society and are understudied as a group (Reel & Bucciere, 2011). Although there have been numerous body image studies with able-bodied athletes, this study represents the first attempt to explore body image of male and female Special Olympics athletes. Athletes (N = 103) were 18–61 years of age (M = 33.34; SD = 11.20) and represented mild to moderate severity for diagnosable intellectual disabilities. Height and weight were measured to determine body mass index (BMI). Body image was verbally assessed via individual interviews using the Figure Ratings Scale and open-ended items. Female athletes had a significantly higher BMI (M = 33.02, SD = 9.28) than male athletes (M = 28.24, SD = 7.38). The BMI means for the female and male athletes met the classifications for obese and overweight, respectively. There was also a negative relationship between body satisfaction and BMI in the overall sample (r = -.46), male athletes only (r = -.51), and female athletes only (r = -.38, indicating that higher BMI was associated with lower body satisfaction. Descriptive statistics revealed that 51% of female athletes and 37% of male athletes desired a thinner physique, whereas 20% of female athletes and 29.6% of male athletes wanted to be larger. There were no significant gender differences in levels of overall body dissatisfaction in this study.
The Female Athlete Triad: Is the Triad a Problem Among Division I Female Athletes?
Justine J. Reel, Sonya SooHoo, Holly Doetsch, Jennifer E. Carter, and Trent A. Petrie
The purpose of the study was to determine prevalence rates of the female athlete triad (Triad), differences by sport category (aesthetic, endurance, and team/anaerobic), and the relationship between each of the components of the Triad. Female athletes (N= 451) from three Division I universities with an average age of 20 years completed the Menstrual History Questionnaire, Injury Assessment Questionnaire, and the Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnoses (Q-EDD; Mintz, O’Halloran, Mulholland, & Schneider, 1997). Almost 7% of female athletes reported clinical eating disorders, and 19.2% reported subclinical disordered eating. Disordered eating was prevalent in all three sport categories with no significant differences between groups. Muscle injuries were more prevalent in team/anaerobic sports (77.4%) than the aesthetic (68.1%) and endurance groups (58.1%). Furthermore, those athletes with menstrual dysfunction more frequently reported clinical eating disorders (1.4%) and sustained more skeletal injuries (51%) during their athletic career than athletes with regular menstrual function. Clinical implications and further research directions are addressed.
Slimming Down for Sport: Developing a Weight Pressures in Sport Measure for Female Athletes
Justine J. Reel, Sonya SooHoo, Trent A. Petrie, Christy Greenleaf, and Jennifer E. Carter
Previous research with female athletes has yielded equivocal findings when comparing disordered eating rates to nonathlete populations, but the rates differ for athletes in leanness and nonleanness sports (Sherman & Thompson, 2009). The purpose of the current study was to develop a measure to assess sport-specific weight pressures for female athletes. Secondly, this study identified frequencies of weight, size, and appearance pressures across sports. Participants (N =204) were female Division I athletes from three universities who represented 17 sports. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a 4-factor solution for the 16-item Weight Pressures in Sport for Females (WPS-F) scale with strong internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha of 0.90). The most frequently reported pressures among female college athletes were teammates (36.8%), uniform (34.3%), and coach (33.8%). These findings are discussed in comparison with previous research along with clinical and research implications for using the WPS-F in sport psychology settings.
Femininity to the Extreme: Body Image Concerns among College Female Dancers
Justine J. Reel, Katherine M. Jamieson, Sonya SooHoo, and Diane L. Gill
Dancers, like other athletes and performers, are faced with the pressure to obtain a particular body shape and size that stems from varied etiological factors (e.g., personality characteristics, demands of the dance environment) (Robson, 2002). This study examined specific concerns for college dancers by utilizing quantitative and qualitative forms of inquiry. The purpose of the initial phase was to assess weight-related pressures, social physique anxiety, and disordered eating in college female modern dancers (N=107) using the Weight Pressure in Dance (Reel & Gill, 1996), Social Physique Anxiety Scale (Hart, Leary, & Rejeski, 1989), and The Eating Disorder Inventory (Garner, 1991). An overwhelming majority (76%) of the dancers reported pressures to lose weight with the most commonly cited stressor being the mirror followed by costumes, performance advantage, comparison to other dancers, and landing the best roles. The mean social physique anxiety score was moderate, but 35 dancers exhibited a high degree of social physique anxiety. In addition, the dancers had a lower tendency toward disordered eating compared to college females (Garner, 1991). The second phase of the study confirmed that modern dancers experience unique pressures. Through qualitative inquiry, the participants’ individualized experiences related to body image and the culture of modern dance could be shared.