UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experiences and perceptions of the athletic and social body : an exploration of dual identities in collegiate female basketball players. Scarlett, Louisa J.


Female athletes who participate in sports that require body size, strength, and physicality may experience body dissatisfaction due to discrepancies between their bodies and idealized bodies of non-athlete women (Krane et al., 2004). The purpose of this study was to qualitatively examine the body-related experiences of collegiate female basketball players, as well as explore the extent to which their body perceptions were related to their student-athlete identities. Six participants from a women’s university basketball team were interviewed near the end of the 2013-2014 season. Data was analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results demonstrated the efficacy of studying female-athlete identity and body image together. Participants who had strong and exclusive athletic identities experienced more extensive body dissatisfaction than participants with more diverse identities. This may have been related to increased pressure for the body to serve as a physical representation of their athleticism. Findings also demonstrated the utility of the bicultural identity integration framework (Benet-Martínez & Haritatos, 2005; Benet-Martínez et al., 2002) for studying identity integration among female athletes. Some participants perceived their participation in basketball as contradictory to femininity and discussed their athletic and feminine identities as separate parts of their overall self. In contrast, other participants discussed their identification with an athletic femininity that was more compatible with their participation in sport. Differences in participants understanding of their athletic and feminine identities were reflected in their efforts to ‘do femininity’ (West & Zimmerman, 1987) in sport and non-sport settings. Regardless of the status of their athletic and feminine identities, participants demonstrated conformity to hegemonic notions of femininity; they expressed a certain amount of body satisfaction associated with the instrumental capabilities of their bodies, but for all participants that satisfaction was coupled with the desire for body change that would increase compliance with a lean and toned female body ideal. Findings contribute to existing research exploring female athlete identity and body image, and highlight the need for future research examining the effect of identity integration on the body-related experiences of female athletes.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada