Eating disorders among female athletes: The role of feminist orientation and coaching messages

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Kent Burnett - Committee Chair


Eating disorders are a serious problem among women in Western culture. The overrepresentation of women suffering from these disorders suggests a socio-cultural component that places women at far greater risk for the development of an eating disorder. A particular sub-group of women who seem to be at risk for eating disorders are female athletes. Moreover, the role of the coach is not well understood in terms of a female athlete's risk for an eating disorder. Feminism emphasizes that a woman's physical beauty does not determine her worth, and attempts to combat the negative messages and discriminatory treatment toward women. Therefore, the endorsement of feminist attitudes and beliefs should help a woman ward off the effects of the culture of thinness and help her to feel more positively about her body. This dissertation examined the relationship between feminist and gender role orientation and eating disorder risk, and hypothesized that as feminist and egalitarian gender role orientation increased, eating disorder risk would decrease. Additionally, this study collected descriptive information about female athletes' perceptions of coaching messages about weight and weight loss. The results of the SEM analyses provide only modest support for the hypothesis that there is an inverse relationship between eating disorder risk and both feminist orientation and gender role orientation.


Women's Studies; Health Sciences, Recreation; Psychology, Clinical

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