Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Negotiating an image: A textual analysis of female athlete photographic self-representations


Movement Science Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


In this session, members of a research group will discuss our exploration of female athletes self-designed visual representations. Popular press images of female athletes often highlight their femininity and beauty over their athleticism whereas college sport media often show the women in action. In this study, 18 US university athletes participated in photo shoots in which they decided how they would appear; they selected their attire, poses, and photo locations. Instructions simply stated the photos would become part of a photo essay titled This is a Female Athlete. Athletes then selected their favorite image and participated in an interview where they explained the process of representing themselves and identified their intended audience. Guided by feminist cultural studies, we conducted a textual analysis of the athletes favorite images. In our analysis, we examined athletes comportment, facial expressions, photo backgrounds, and other details of the images. Three primary themes emerged: action shots, multiple identities, and sport scenes. We also compare the researchers interpretation of the images with the athletes intended audiences. The images provide insight into how athletes negotiate their femininity, athleticism, and other social identities. Based on these findings, we will address practical implications for current marketing practices in college sport. (200 words)

Conference Name

The Image

Conference Location

Chicago, IL

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