Parks, M.S., Read, M.H. (1997). Adolescent male athletes: body image, diet, and exercise. Adolescence, 32, 593-602.
Today’s society is heavily focused on the physical aspect of our bodies. It seems that our body image is of a very important concern to many. According to previous research studies one’s self-esteem is closely related to the degree of satisfaction with one’s body image.
Most of the research before now on body image has been done in relation to the female population. The concerns of how one looks used to be thought of as a female preoccupation.
However, cultural and societal trends have come to suggest that body image concerns may also affect males. New research has shown that the adolescent male is vulnerable to the pressures of obtaining the “ideal” male body. The ideal includes the V-shape, muscularity, and tallness. This new desire has led many to participate in athletics.
Most of the data relevant to this subject has been done on college and adult aged people. This study is due to the limited information regarding younger male athletes. The study was done to investigate and compare body image concerns between two groups of adolescent male athletes. The two groups were composed of football players and cross-country runners. Diet and exercise often modify body image. So data was also collected on reasons for exercising and attitudes toward eating and weight control. I believe that the football players will be the ones who accept their body image more than the cross-country runners.
The data was collected through a questionnaire. Various coaches were called up and asked to administer the questionnaire to their players at a convenient time. The players were told to answer seriously and make sure their answers were clear. The questionnaire included: Body Esteem Scale, Body Size Drawings, Eating Attitudes Test, and Reasons for Exercise Inventory. The Body Esteem Scale includes physical attraction, upper body, and condition. Eating Attitudes Test involves dieting, bulimia and preoccupation with food, and oral control. The dimensions in Reasons for Exercise Inventory are weight control, fitness, mood, health, attractiveness, enjoyment, and tone. The questionnaire also included a personal information page that asked your current and desired weight and height. The questionnaire was confidential and took 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
Football players reported more body satisfaction and more positive attitudes and behaviors toward eating and weight control despite 83 percent of them wanting to gain weight. Through the various tests in the questionnaire it was found that football players, being an average of 37 pounds heavier, were perceived as the male ideal type. While the cross-country runners, who perceive themselves as thinner than average, are more likely to have a negative self view and lower self-esteem. Football players in this study expressed satisfaction with their upper body and are related to the sport they chose. Cross-country runners desired and increase in upper body size.
Recent evidence has indicated that runners may be prone towards eating disorders. The data collected confirms this with high scores on the bulimia and oral control portions or the EAT test. Now it appears that runners need to be educated to accept and value their body build and to avoid bad eating behaviors as a result of dissatisfaction for their bodies.
I felt this investigation was a very valid one with good ideas. This article was quite right when it stated that most of the research on body image concerns had to do with the female. Males too, are constantly under the microscope with their manly builds. I believe the need for a better body image will continue to grow for both males and females in the future.