A comparison of body size ideals, body dissatisfaction, and media influence between female track athletes, martial artists, and non-athletes

Academic Article


  • Objectives: In assessments of body image among athletes, there remains an important discrepancy between studies reporting, on one hand, increased body dissatisfaction among athletes and, on the other, lower body image concerns. In order to help resolve this contradiction, the present study examined body size ideals, body dissatisfaction, and media influence among female recreational athletes and non-athletes. Method: Forty-one track athletes (a judged sport in which leanness is actively promoted), 47 women involved in Taek Won Do (a martial art with little or no emphasis on leanness), and 44 non-athletes completed self-report measures of ideal body size, body dissatisfaction, and media influence, and provided their demographic details. Results: Results showed that, after controlling for participants' body mass index (BMI), there were no significant between-group differences in ideal body size. By contrast, track athletes reported the highest body dissatisfaction scores and the highest internalisation of athletic media messages. Results of a regression analysis showed that, for the total sample, participants' BMI and internalisation of athletic media messages predicted body dissatisfaction over-and-above involvement in the different sports. Conclusion: These results support the suggestion that women participating in leanness-promoting sports experience greater body dissatisfaction than women in other sports or non-athletes. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Swami V; Steadman L; Tovée MJ
  • Start Page

  • 609
  • End Page

  • 614
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 6