Sex Roles

, Volume 50, Issue 5–6, pp 315–329 | Cite as

Living the Paradox: Female Athletes Negotiate Femininity and Muscularity

  • Vikki KraneEmail author
  • Precilla Y. L. Choi
  • Shannon M. Baird
  • Christine M. Aimar
  • Kerrie J. Kauer


Sportswomen live in 2 cultures: the sport culture that is inherently masculine and the larger social culture where femininity is celebrated for women. In this investigation, which was grounded in feminist cultural studies, we pursued the research question: how do female athletes negotiate and reconcile the social expectations surrounding femininity with athleticism? Twenty-one female college athletes participated in focus group interviews about body image and perceptions of muscularity and femininity. Data analysis resulted in 3 higher order themes: the influence of hegemonic femininity, athlete as other, and physicality. These athletes expressed that being feminine contrasted with being athletic. They further conveyed that as athletes, they were marginalized and perceived as different from “normal” women. Yet, they also were proud of their strong, developed bodies and expressed feelings of empowerment that generalized beyond the sport context.

body image muscularity femininity female athletes 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vikki Krane
    • 1
    Email author
  • Precilla Y. L. Choi
    • 2
  • Shannon M. Baird
    • 3
  • Christine M. Aimar
    • 1
  • Kerrie J. Kauer
    • 4
  1. 1.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling Green
  2. 2.Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.University of IowaIowa City
  4. 4.University of TennesseeKnoxville

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