Realistic Portrayals of Athletic Bodies

If you know the history of sport media coverage of athletes, you know that it is problematic and has limitations. I saw this tweet come through on Sociological Images (@SocImages) The Perfect Body, as Illustrated by Olympic Athletes and wanted to share it.

Serena Williams ESPN Magazine Oct 2009

I love this photography project by Howard Schartz and Beverly Ornstein, as it represents all types of athletic bodies not just the bodies that represent society norms of what it means to be attractive and athletic, different sports, men and women, and doesn’t sexualize or marginalize female athletes.I chose this picture of the eight photos in the project because it includes Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Haworth, whom you NEVER see in covered in the sport media.

While you could critique the photos for not being “in action, on the court, or in uniform” these pictures are a much different representation of athletic bodies than The Body Issue of ESPN The Magazine.

2 Replies to “Realistic Portrayals of Athletic Bodies”

  1. Great shoot, what a great idea. I only saw 2 pics – that other site has been asked to take them down by the photographers. Hopefully we’ll see them on show somewhere one day!


  2. I found it interesting that there was no critical analysis, application of the sociological imagination on the Sociological Images web site. .Instead the posting seemed to accept the images at face value i. e. challenging the narrative of the “perfect body” but all those bodies are of elite athletes and so I’m not sure how that intervenes in the narrative.  Is it because the images are of sport/ athletes and so there’s this uncritical celebration that even sociologists (who don’t study sport) buy into?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: