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"They never do this to men": College women athletes' responses to sexualized images of professional female athletes
Unformatted Document Text:  perception by sports journalists that audiences do not care about women’s sports, perpetuates a cycle that trivializes female athletes. Images of beauty American mass media, including advertising, entertainment media, news and sports media, perpetuate idealized images of beauty. Beauty in American culture often is defined as light-skinned, blonde, thin and “feminine,” a phenomenon Jean Kilbourne has described as “cutting girls down to size” (Kilbourne, 2010). Kilbourne maintains that when girls reach adolescence, they are taught by culture and media that they should not be too large, or “not take up too much space.” They are not to outdo males or else they may be considered “masculine” or stereotyped as lesbian. They receive consistently contradictory messages: be demure but also be sexy. Work hard and achieve, but don’t become too masculine. Be competitive, but not too competitive. In American culture, girls and women are expected to conform to stereotypical gender roles and are valued primarily for their attractiveness. The same standards apply to female athletes, as Knight and Giuliano (2001) note: “Media tend to represent female athletes as women first (i.e., through focusing on their hair, nails, clothing and attractiveness) and as athletes second” (p. 219). Even when participating in activities society considers “masculine,” women are pressured to act “feminine.” A study of undergraduates at a small college in the Southwest found that when female athletes’ appearance was the main focus of a sports article, research subjects perceived these women as more physically attractive than women featured for their athleticism. “The same pattern was not found with male athletes” (Knight and Giuliano, 2001, p. 224). So female athletes find they are not only expected to perform well, but also to conform to attractiveness standards on and off the field.

Authors: Everbach, Tracy. and Mumah, Jenny.
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perception by sports journalists that audiences do not care about women’s sports, perpetuates a 
cycle that trivializes female athletes. 
Images of beauty
American mass media, including advertising, entertainment media, news and sports 
media, perpetuate idealized images of beauty. Beauty in American culture often is defined as 
light-skinned, blonde, thin and “feminine,” a phenomenon Jean Kilbourne has described as 
“cutting girls down to size” (Kilbourne, 2010). Kilbourne maintains that when girls reach 
adolescence, they are taught by culture and media that they should not be too large, or “not take 
up too much space.” They are not to outdo males or else they may be considered “masculine” or 
stereotyped as lesbian. They receive consistently contradictory messages: be demure but also be 
sexy. Work hard and achieve, but don’t become too masculine. Be competitive, but not too 
competitive. In American culture, girls and women are expected to conform to stereotypical 
gender roles and are valued primarily for their attractiveness. The same standards apply to female 
athletes, as Knight and Giuliano (2001) note: “Media tend to represent female athletes as women 
first (i.e., through focusing on their hair, nails, clothing and attractiveness) and as athletes 
second” (p. 219). Even when participating in activities society considers “masculine,” women 
are pressured to act “feminine.” A study of undergraduates at a small college in the Southwest 
found that when female athletes’ appearance was the main focus of a sports article, research 
subjects perceived these women as more physically attractive than women featured for their 
athleticism. “The same pattern was not found with male athletes” (Knight and Giuliano, 2001, p. 
224). So female athletes find they are not only expected to perform well, but also to conform to 
attractiveness standards on and off the field.

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