Nov 16, 2015
Uniforms Fueling Female Body Image Struggles?

Body image issues are a struggle for many female athletes, with concerns ranging from height and weight to being muscular without being bulky. Along with these perceptions, many successful athletes have high self-expectations for perfection and self-control.

According to The UP (University of Portland) Beacon, many of these issues are exacerbated through unspoken team cultures, hyper-sexualization of the sport, and revealing uniforms. In a recent article, female student-athletes from a variety of sports discuss their struggles, ranging from disordered eating to feeling vulnerable in revealing uniforms.

Although spandex is not an NCAA requirement for uniforms, it has become the standard.

“It is weird if you think about it,” UP Volleyball Player Emily Liger told the UP Beacon. “Like, why do we need to wear that? My jersey is so tight… there is no extra room. Maybe more people would play the sport if we didn’t have to wear spandex.”

Along with team stresses, some female athletes struggle with body image issues outside their sport; this is especially pronounced for basketball players. Although height is an asset on the basketball court, many tall women feel stigmatized in other settings. UP Head Women’s Basketball Coach Cheryl Sorenson understands this and tries to proactively influence her players’ confidence on and off the court.

“What I try to do is instill confidence so that hopefully when they graduate here, they are still tall, beautiful, confident women that are taking things on in the workplace,” she told the UP Beacon.

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