Women athletes encounter many potentially stressful situations in competitive sport, such as body dissatisfaction, injury, bullying, eating disorders, coach conflicts, poor performance and performance plateau, self-criticism, and social comparisons, that are often accompanied by negative self
Amber D. Mosewich, Catherine M. Sabiston, Kent C. Kowalski, Patrick Gaudreau and Peter R.E. Crocker
Elaine M. Blinde and Susan L. Greendorfer
This paper is a synthesis of results from five separate studies examining how recent structural and philosophical changes in women’s intercollegiate sport programs may have altered the sport experience of female athletes. Based on both questionnaire and interview data, it was apparent that athletes participating in sport programs characterized by the greatest change (e.g., post-Title IX programs, programs of the 1980s, product-oriented sport models, and Division I programs of recent years) shared somewhat common experiences — with the presence of conflict being one of the most pervasive themes. Four types of conflict were identified: (a) value alienation, (b) role strain, (c) role conflict, and (d) exploitation. Each of these types of conflict is discussed and examples to substantiate the presence of each form of conflict are presented. Based upon the findings, it is suggested that the changing context and emphases of college sport may have exposed female athletes to different sets of circumstances, expectations, and experiences, thus altering the nature of the sport experience and bringing into question the educational legitimacy of college sport.
Elizabeth A. Daniels
Past research has shown that teen girls consume media that frequently contains objectified images of women. Little is known about whether these girls are also exposed to empowering images, such as women playing sports. The current study evaluated the prevalence of these images in five popular magazines aimed at teen girls. Of the 620 photographs examined, only 7% showed women engaged in physical activity or sport. The majority of these images showed women in fitness activities that emphasize shape and muscle tone, rather than in sport activities that emphasize instrumentality. Results demonstrate that women athletes are largely invisible in mainstream magazines for teen girls.
Amber D. Mosewich, Peter R.E. Crocker, Kent C. Kowalski and Anita DeLongis
This study investigated the effects of a self-compassion intervention on negative cognitive states and selfcompassion in varsity women athletes. Athletes who self-identified as being self-critical were randomly assigned to a self-compassion intervention (n = 29) or attention control group (n = 22). The self-compassion intervention consisted of a psychoeducation session and writing components completed over a 7-day period. Measures of self-compassion, state self-criticism, state rumination, and concern over mistakes were collected pretreatment, at 1 week posttreatment, and at a 4-week follow-up. A mixed factorial MANOVA with follow-up post hoc tests demonstrated moderate-to-strong effects for the intervention at posttest and follow-up (Wilks’s Λ = .566, F (8, 42) = 4.03, p < .01, η2 = .43). The findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the self-compassion intervention in managing self-criticism, rumination, and concern over mistakes. Fostering a self-compassionate frame of mind is a potential coping resource for women athletes dealing with negative events in sport.
Amber D. Mosewich, Kent C. Kowalski, Catherine M. Sabiston, Whitney A. Sedgwick and Jessica L. Tracy
Self-compassion has demonstrated many psychological benefits (Neff, 2009). In an effort to explore self-compassion as a potential resource for young women athletes, we explored relations among self-compassion, proneness to self-conscious emotions (i.e., shame, guilt-free shame, guilt, shame-free guilt, authentic pride, and hubristic pride), and potentially unhealthy self-evaluative thoughts and behaviors (i.e., social physique anxiety, obligatory exercise, objectified body consciousness, fear of failure, and fear of negative evaluation). Young women athletes (N = 151; M age = 15.1 years) participated in this study. Self-compassion was negatively related to shame proneness, guilt-free shame proneness, social physique anxiety, objectified body consciousness, fear of failure, and fear of negative evaluation. In support of theoretical propositions, self-compassion explained variance beyond self-esteem on shame proneness, guilt-free shame proneness, shame-free guilt proneness, objectified body consciousness, fear of failure, and fear of negative evaluation. Results suggest that, in addition to self-esteem promotion, self-compassion development may be beneficial in cultivating positive sport experiences for young women.
A.P. (Karin) de Bruin and Raôul R.D. Oudejans
transiency of body satisfaction ( Krane et al., 2001 ; Loland, 1999 ; Russell, 2004 ). Russell ( 2004 ) interviewed women athletes, such as female rugby players, who displayed positive interpretations of body size and shape in their games as a tool for successful performance, while their body satisfaction
Leah J. Ferguson, Kent C. Kowalski, Diane E. Mack and Catherine M. Sabiston
Using a mixed methods research design, we explored self-compassion and eudaimonic well-being in young women athletes. In a quantitative study (n = 83), we found that self-compassion and eudaimonic well-being were positively related (r = .76, p < .01). A model of multiple mediation was proposed, with self-compassion, passivity, responsibility, initiative, and self-determination accounting for 83% of the variance in eudaimonic well-being. In a qualitative study (n = 11), we explored when and how self-compassion might be useful in striving to reach one’s potential in sport. Self-compassion was described as advantageous in difficult sport-specific situations by increasing positivity, perseverance, and responsibility, as well as decreasing rumination. Apprehensions about fully embracing a self-compassionate mindset in sport warrant additional research to explore the seemingly paradoxical role of self-compassion in eudaimonic well-being.
From a theoretical perspective, I analyze the claim that women’s athletic performances are negatively affected by their menstrual cycles. To demonstrate the perpetuation of the belief that menstruation is a mythical debilitating bodily function for women and sport participation, an overview of Elizabeth Spelman, Simone De Beauvoir, and Iris Marion Young’s philosophical framing of somatophobia and menstruation is outlined. Analysis of specific examples of elite female athletes who have addressed menstruation in connection to their sporting performance are also discussed to emphasize how menstruation is linked to the frailty myth. I offer an analysis of the scientific literature on hormonal swings of the menstrual cycle and, the effects on sport performance to show that research is equivocal. Finally, a brief examination of feminine hygiene marking campaigns takes place to further emphasize the argument how the frailty myth is closely linked to women athletes and menstruation and how change can be created.
Tracy Everbach and Jenny Mumah
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.