Body Image, Runner, Track and Field, Cross Country, Hegemonic Femininity


American Studies


In lieu of an abstract, below is the essay's first paragraph.

How would you describe the ideal runner’s body? Would you say it is tall or short? Skinny or fat? Muscular or lean? Is it the same as society’s ideal female’s body? A Division 2 collegiate female distance runner recently stated, “The ideal runner’s body is having a six pack and muscular quads and an overall skinny physique. The ideal female body, from what I gather from society, is having larger breasts and a butt, nice hair and a nice face. Runners do not always have the biggest extremities, so that makes me feel more self-conscious about my body because I definitely look and feel like a distance runner.” This runner’s response is just one of the many examples of how there is a conflict between what it means to want an ideal runner’s body, and the value of it for competing in the sport verses the reality of the American societal ideal.