More than a pretty girl: resistance, community and group identity among female triathletes
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This study examines women's use of leisure as politics, especially as related to leisure as resistance, leisure and social worlds, and women's body image. Interviews were conducted with fifteen participants and coaches in two all-women's triathlon training groups in Austin, Texas. Both training groups prepared women for participation in the Austin Danskin Triathlon. Qualitative methods, grounded theory and constant comparison guided the interviewing and data analysis process. It was determined that Danskin trainees formed a social world which allowed them to redefine their bodies and redefine the tenets of organized sport. This finding centered around three major areas: initial involvement, community building and resistance. Most participants became involved initially for social reasons even though they often were out of shape or had not previously participated in athletics. Several participants experienced barriers to involvement commonly discussed in gender leisure studies including weight issues, "ethic of care" concerns and fear of not deserving leisure time. During participation in their training programs, the majority of trainees formed a community with their fellow participants which provided them with a safe place and a support structure. As a result, many Austin Danskin triathlon trainees were able to communally resist cultural and societal norms surrounding women's bodies and competitive athletics. As a group, trainees redefined the way women should look and placed function above form. Furthermore, they reclaimed sport from the male norm and instead demanded that it go beyond bigger, better, faster or stronger and instead focus on community, support and teamwork. The results of this study urge leisure providers to create programs that appeal to the whole person - not just the physical. As a result of the data, several hypotheses may be suggested for future study: Do women's only recreation programs provide a crucial link between social world formation and leisure as resistance? What other programs may produce similar results and why?
Cronan, Megan Kelly (2005). More than a pretty girl: resistance, community and group identity among female triathletes. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from