Female athletes battle body image portrayals in media

Michigan State University track and field athlete Denise Spann focuses a lot of time and energy on her body. That’s because she’s focused on trying to perform her best on the track, said Spann, a junior from Coconut Creek, Florida. Muscle structure and body weight can play a significant role in how an athlete performs.

But, Spann said, media portrayals of female athletes seem too focused almost entirely on how women look and not on how athletic they are. “Most of the time they just want to see a beautiful girl play a sport, because there’s a stigma in certain sports that you can’t be beautiful and be one of the best,” Spann said. “I think that the focus should be on the skill, because female athletes do work so hard to be good at their craft, only for it be overshadowed by the way they look, or how their body looks.”

Increased anxiety

Michigan State kinesiology professor Dan Gould studies sports psychology for all age levels of athletes and said having insecurities about your body can lead to increased anxiety and worry.