Olivia D. Powell '15, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2015


Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


The general consensus regarding athletic participation is that it is beneficial to a person’s overall well being. The Women’s Sports Foundation states that girls and women who play sports have higher levels of confidence and self-esteem, lower levels of depression, a more positive body image, and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports. In fact, girls who play sports are more likely to get better grades in school, and are more likely to graduate than girls who do not play sports.1 These statements are circulated as being universal truths. Despite many studies corroborating these statements, the world of athletics also has many negative features that are rarely mentioned and discussed. The desire for this research project began due to my own feelings of self-consciousness and unhealthy focus on body image, weight and appearance due to my participation on the cross country team. I also overheard many women on the team express similar sentiments, which prompted me to explore these issues further and examine cross country more thoroughly. My underlying hope was to discover how cross country athletes felt about particular issues regarding the sport, and to see whether these responses differed by gender. [excerpt]


Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Senior Thesis