BACKGROUND: Self-objectification is the psychological process in which individuals view themselves as an object made up of parts for evaluation and is an important factor to consider in body image research. High values placed on physical appearance can adversely affect female body image and therefore negatively impact mental health. The sporting context provides a unique environment for female athletes to view their bodies. Despite competing in a domain that should celebrate the body's functionality, female athletes are subject to comparing themselves to society’s feminine, slender body ideal. Higher values placed on physical appearance are associated with negative mental health outcomes and lower quality of life.PURPOSE: To assess the importance collegiate female athletes place on appearance and functional based attributes. METHODS: Female college student athletes between the ages of 18-25 years were recruited to take an online survey. Data collected included demographics (e.g., age, race, sport) and body image, including the Self-Objectification Scale. The Self-Objectification Scale ranges from -36 to 36 with higher values demonstrating a greater emphasis on appearance and lower values representing a greater emphasis on competence. RESULTS: Participants (N=67; 20.6± 1.9 years, 82% White) represented nine different sports including track and field (23), softball (7), lacrosse (10), cross country (3), soccer (5), dance (11), volleyball (6), swimming and diving (1), and tennis (1). Scores from the Self- Objectification Scale showed that female athletes had a greater emphasis on appearance related attributes (5.37 ± 24; range -36-36). CONCLUSIONS: Female athletes appreciate appearance related factors of body image more than competence related factors despite participating within a sector that requires physical competencies unrelated to outward appearance. Due to the negative outcomes that result from self-objectification and the wide spread of the collected data, more research is warranted among the athletic population. Future research should explore how self-objectification differs between sport types to reveal which athletes are more at risk for objectifying themselves. Additionally, future interventions should look at ways to promote body functionality over appearance in athletic and physically active female populations.

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