Socially constructing the female athlete: A monolithic media representation of active women




Schell, Lea Ann "Beez"

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The purpose of this study was to conduct a content analysis of 13 issues of the Conde Nast Sports for Women, currently titled Women's Sports & Fitness (CN/WS&F ) magazine published between October 1997 and January/February 1999. Written and visual texts were analyzed to determine how women's sports and fitness, and women athletes are represented in the first 13 issues. All covers, sport and fitness feature articles, photographs, and the editor's letters were critically examined using standardized worksheets and the hermeneutic method of textual interpretation. Results indicated that the magazine presents an homogenized image of active women that accentuates gender differences while creating a hierarchy between women based on race, dis/ability, age, body type, and sexual identity. With regard to women's sports, the magazine focused on the women athletes as character portraits rather than as competitive athletes. The implications of these findings may involve the further trivialization of women's sports and women athletes and the silencing of minority women's experiences with sport and fitness.



Communication and the arts, Social sciences, Athlete, Media, Women athletes