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Title: Changes in body image perceptions upon leaving elite sport: The retired female athlete paradox
Authors: Papathomas, Anthony
Petrie, Trent A.
Plateau, Carolyn R.
Keywords: Feminine ideal
Athletic ideal
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © American Psychological Association
Citation: PAPATHOMAS, A., PETRIE, T.A. and PLATEAU, C.R., 2017. Changes in body image perceptions upon leaving elite sport: The retired female athlete paradox. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology, 7 (1), pp.30-45.
Abstract: Little is known about the evolution of female athlete body image into retirement. In this study, 218 retired athletes from aesthetic sports answered a series of closed and open ended questions regarding bodily changes since retirement. Years since retirement was unrelated to current weight status (e.g., underweight, normal weight), what they were doing about current weight (e.g., lose weight), and satisfaction with current weight (all p’s > .69). Overall, 74.3% thought they were normal weight, yet 55% were dissatisfied with their weight and 59.6% were trying to lose weight. A rigorous thematic analysis of the qualitative data yielded 4 core themes that characterized participants’ experiences: 1) A move towards the feminine ideal; 2) Feeling fat, flabby and ashamed; 3) A continued commitment to a former self; and 4) Conflicting ideals: The retired female athlete paradox. Perceived muscle loss was considered indicative of either increased fat (dissatisfaction) or increased femininity (satisfaction). For some retired athletes, the satisfaction brought on by newfound femininity was complicated by a coinciding and conflicting commitment to a muscular athletic physique. Practical applications include strategies for sport psychologists to better support athletes in coping with the body changes that occur on retirement from elite sport.
Description: © American Psychological Association, 2017. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available, upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000111.
Sponsor: This study was supported by the National Collegiate Athletic Association Sport Science Institute.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1037/spy0000111
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/26454
Publisher Link: https://doi.org/10.1037/spy0000111
ISSN: 2157-3905
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences)

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