Female athletes, body image and media pressure
A lesser-known fact about female athletes is that many succumb to the pressure from the media to stay thin and end up developing an eating disorder.
Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was quoted in sky SPORTS as saying "Body image is still a massive issue for women in sport" in a recent interview.
She blames media reporters on their obsession with ideal body image and their comments on the way female athletes look instead of their actual sporting performance. This doesn't tend to happen for male athletes even when they have an ideal body image for advertisers.
The main reason, Baroness Grey-Thompson argues, is that sponsors are more likely to offer a deal to attractive sportswomen with an ideal body image to represent their brand therefore looks are more important than performance.
Many female athletes keep their eating disorders quiet but when their disorder starts taking over their lives and it negatively affects their sporting achievements, they know they need to seek help. What really helps athletes is maximising their focused mindset and make subtle changes from unhealthy habits to healthier ones contributing to an improved perception of their ideal body image.
Coaches have a huge responsibility when educating their pre-teen athletes on healthy eating, body image, keeping a healthy weight and body image. The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics demonstrated that the body image for athletes can vary and sportspeople can be of any size and that each sport has different challenges requiring different types of strengths.
We at Weightmatters specialise in the treatment of female body image distress.
Words by Paola Bassanese