The Consequences of Athletes in Bikinis

(Photo: Finizio)

What do girls think when they see their favorite soccer start posing in Sports Illustrated in a bikini instead of a soccer jersey?  A new study, summarized by the BPS Research Digest, surveyed girls after they viewed five images of either “female athletes in a sporting context in their full sporting attire,” “female athletes in a sexualized context,” or “bikini-clad magazine models given random names.” Here’s the BPS Digest:

The key finding is that the girls and undergrads who viewed the sexualized athlete images tended to say they admired or were jealous of the athletes’ bodies, they commented on the athletes’ sexiness, and they evaluated their own bodies negatively. Some also said they found the images inappropriate. The participants who viewed the bikini-clad glamour models responded similarly, except they rarely commented on the inappropriateness of the images, as if they’d come to accept the portrayal of women in that way…

By contrast, participants who viewed the female athletes in a sporting context tended to comment on the athletes’ determination, passion and commitment; they wrote about feeling motivated to perform sport; and they reflected on their own sporting participation or sports they followed.

Elizabeth Daniels, the study’s author, points to the need for more performance images in the mainstream media. “Infusing more performance images of female athletes into the media may be helpful in promoting physical activity among girls and young women,” Daniels said. “Currently, female athletes are largely absent from magazines targeted at teen girls.”

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  1. Atilla Garay says:

    Our dress has always been to a degree been used to define in some way who we are and think will always be the case no matter who we are. Our success or failure of what we wish to portray of course depends on the experience and point of view of our audience and of course our costume and performance. That success then depends on not only the psychological make up of the audience but also of we the performers. Our best performance then can be expected when our costumes are not negatively affecting what it is we are trying to portray to our audience is portraying the audience we wish to entertain. To dress for success we need to know our audience.

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  2. Impossibly Stupid says:

    A better conclusion that a researcher might come to is that more women should make the bikini their regular attire if they don’t want to be judged by what they wear.

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  3. Philippe Gradidge says:

    “Price: US $ 35.95 ” to view the full article…
    What I did see of the article seemed interesting. Only thing the author may have forgotten to take into account was the impact of such advertising or images on eating disorders, such as annorexia nervosa and/or bulemia.

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  4. Ehud Dooley says:

    My main question is, does it matter? Really, does it matter that women see their attractiveness at first sight. Does that remove anything from these athletes?

    Does that really diminish women when they look great physically, have a great body in their sexuality. We are sexual mammals at the end of the day. We cannot run away from our biological makeup.

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