An imperceptible difference: visual and textual constructions of femininity in Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated for Women
The success of female athletes in the 1996 Olympics brought with it a great deal of optimism that women in sport would finally receive acceptance for their athletic talents. This optimism was concomitantly fueled by the rise of women’s sport magazines. This study was designed with two purposes. First, through an analysis of both visual and literal texts, we sought to replicate previous research in determining whether there had been any changes in the coverage of female sport and athletes in Sports Illustrated’s historically male-centered magazine. Second, the same standards of review were applied to Sports Illustrated for Women to discover if the mandates for marketing femininity are so strong that they have crossed over to this female-specific sport magazine as well. An analysis of content (1,105 articles and 1,745 photographs) within Sports Illustrated and Sports Illustrated for Women from 1997-1999 found that women continue to be underrepresented, portrayed in ‘traditionally-feminine sports’, or shown in non-sport related scenery in both media outlets. Within the pages of media explicitly focused on women’s issues within sport, successful female athletes continue to be constructed in stereotypical and traditional conceptions of femininity that supercede their athletic ability. It is suggested that this generally unoffensive, status-quo approach has been continued in order to maintain marketability to advertisers and to general sports readers.
SubjectsMedia representation of marginal groups
- Arts: Journal Articles