In this study, we examined the relation of participation in an alternative sport (i.e., Roller Derby) in the U.S. to women’s body image, gender role and self-esteem. Roller Derby (n = 64) and non-Roller Derby (n = 129) women participated; the majority of the women (59.4 to 77.7 %) were from Texas though participants also were drawn from 14 other states across the U.S. All the women completed quantitative measures of body esteem, self-esteem, and gender characteristics; the athletes also provided qualitative responses to questions about their Roller Derby persona, self-esteem, dress, and motivation. In both groups, self-esteem was related to endorsing more instrumental characteristics as well as with greater satisfaction with sexual attractiveness, weight, and physical condition. The Roller Derby women’s endorsement of instrumental, as opposed to expressive, characteristics was related significantly to all three dimensions of body esteem. Roller Derby women endorsed more instrumental characteristics and were more satisfied with their weight and physical condition than the non-Roller Derby women; both groups reported generally high and similar levels of self-esteem and did not differ significantly on their satisfaction with their sexual attractiveness. Roller Derby challenges traditional hegemonic notions of masculinity/femininity and negates the idea of the female body as passive sex object. As a sport, Roller Derby may provide an alternate system of body evaluation based on functionality, rather than appearance. This alternative perspective may empower women who traditionally are seen as overweight and unfeminine in today’s society, thereby instilling a more positive body image and instrumental view of themselves as athletes.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: May 31, 2015
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