On versus off the pitch: The transiency of body satisfaction among female rugby players, cricketers, and netballers

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In this study I investigated the development of body satisfaction among women rugby players, cricketers, and netballers. I also sought to assess the impact of sport participation on both athletic and “feminine” identity. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 10 rugby players, 10 cricketers, and 10 netballers. The interviews focused on the experience of playing sport and the impact sport had made on respondents’ perceptions of their bodies. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore the interview data it was found that, although sport participation did lead to positive perceptions of their bodies, this effect was transient. Once placed in a social environment body satisfaction decreased, and women’s perceptions of their bodies changed because of a perceived demand to conform to socially accepted and expected norms of (heterosexual) physical attractiveness. Fear of being perceived as lesbian and the perceived naturalness of body concern were also identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-574
Number of pages14
JournalSex Roles
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004


  • femininity
  • body satisfaction
  • physical attractiveness
  • lesbian
  • female rugby players
  • cricketers
  • netballers

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