Aside from the media that glorifies "thinness"; and places such a high value on having the perfect body, female athletes face compounded pressures to be thin from their coaches, parents, peers and judges.
Coaches place extreme pressure on their female athletes. According to Smith (1996), female competitors are expected be assertive and even aggressive, yet have the appearance of sweet little girls. They are expected to be tough competitors&, soft-spoken, and elegant ladies.
It is difficult for adolescent girls, when already going through such a vulnerable time in their life, to resolve these mixed messages that they are receiving, and consequently many female athlete develop disordered eating behaviors.
Coaches advise their female athletes to maintain a low percent body to both enhance performance and appearance. Ross and Gall (1996), state that females in sport mistakenly think that having a very slender body means they are fit and healthy, but obtaining this thin, slender body becomes an obsession that eventually leads to full-fledged eating disorders.
Smith (1996), stated eating disorders are most commonly seen among those competing in appearance sports such as gymnastics, ballet, figure skating, equestrian sports and diving. In these types of sports where athletes are being judged on technical and artistic merit, they are under enormous pressure to be thin, because many judges consider thinness to be an important factor when deciding the artistic score. 62% of females in sports like gymnastics and figure skating develop eating disorders.
Over the past few decades we can see a huge drop in the average weight of female athletes. In 1976 the average gymnast was 5'3; weighing 105lbs and in 1992 the average gymnast was 4'9; weighing 88lbs
Clinical Trials in Sports Medicine states that due to the personal attributes that make up an athlete also make...