BEYOND THE GAME
Sports have long been a microcosm for issues of inequality that permeate through society. With increased access to instant information, the contemporary role of sport in society is as a platform to address everything from pay inequity to the disparate treatment of minorities. Unfortunately, up until very recently, female athletes have been left out of discussions
concerning the pervasive societal pressures to sacrifice athletic achievement for feminine beauty.
Young girls are encouraged to play sports and parents are comforted by the stats: girls who play sports have a reduced risk of substance abuse, healthier sexual behaviors, improved academic performance, and improved mental health. However, examinations into the ways in which sport complicates a female athlete’s conception of self and gender identity are rare.
As a former professional athlete, I wanted to give female athletes an opportunity to explore the impact sport has had on their self-esteem, identity, and understanding of femininity. What I found was that no matter the sport, many of the athletes shared experiences of mental and physical abuse at the hands of coaches and teammates. They suffered from low self-esteem, depression, and low self-esteem.
In this ongoing portrait project, I hope to lend a voice to my fellow female athletes and enable them to tell their own stories. It is my belief that only when the need to prove that women’s athletics can fit into a predetermined societal construct is dismantled, can the female athlete freely compete and achieve equality with her male counterpart.