The super competitive attitude that fuels elite athletes can manifest itself in unhealthy ways, particularly when muscular body types aren't readily accepted or celebrated
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25% of female collegiate athletes struggle
A recent Yale co-authored study found that disordered eating habits are seen in 25 percent of female collegiate athletes. These habits, which include inadequate calorie intake and purging behavior, such as induced vomiting, can lead to electrolyte imbalances, malnutrition syndromes and bone loss, according to the study.
At Yale, in most cases female student-athletes struggle particularly with the contrast between a body that performs well in sports and one that looks feminine.
1 in 5 fat shamed by a coach
ESPN surveyed 201 female Division I student-athletes about their body image. They found that 68 percent felt "pressure to be pretty"; 14 percent (including 32 percent of rowers) had suffered from an eating disorder; 30 percent were afraid of becoming too muscular; 31 percent lied about their weight; 37 percent wished their breasts were a different size; and 48 percent wore makeup to competitions. But these insecurities weren't just coming from the women themselves: 20 percent had been called "fat' by a a coach.
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Skinny is 3.5x as popular as athletic
Google web search trends below indicate a decrease over the past five years of searching for "skinny women" but that topic averages 3.5x as popular as "athletic women" worldwide. Try various combinations and the trends are similar.
Male athletes are praised for their strength, muscle and athleticism while many female athletes are shamed for it.