Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Health Promotion and Fitness-BA


Health & Sport Sciences


Erica Van Dop

First Committee Member

Erica Van Dop

Second Committee Member

Dr. Kim Fischer

Third Committee Member

Dr. Karen Steigman


female athletes, muscularity, body image, female/athlete paradox

Subject Categories

Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Although muscularity is a trait that is traditionally associated with masculinity, women with muscular figures have been deemed more socially acceptable throughout the past decade (Indiana University Health, 2015). That said, societal standards still dictate a specific degree of muscularity that women should attain, creating a complicated paradox for female athletes (Steinfeldt, Carter, Benton, & Steinfeldt,2011). Various studies (Steinfeldt et al., 2011; Krane, Choi, Baird, Aimar, & Kauer, 2004) have established that female athletes exhibit a higher drive for muscularity when compared to their non-athletic counterparts, but most of the existing literature does not examine if and how a female athlete’s drive for muscularity changes over time. Therefore, McCreary and Sasse’s (2000) Drive for Muscularity Scale, as well as a series of short-answer questions adapted from Krane et al. (2004) and Mosewich et al. (2009), were utilized to examine the following: if and how female student-athletes’ drive for muscularity changes over a 10-week period, and female athletes’ experiences with the female/athlete paradox. It was hypothesized that athletes would exhibit a greater drive for muscularity at the end of the 10-week period. There was no significant change in athletes’ DMS scores between the pre- and post-test, and no significant difference between the DMS scores of athletes and the control group. Qualitative data revealed a presence of the female/athlete paradox among female student-athletes at Otterbein, suggesting that more action needs to be taken in order to address female athletes’ struggles in balancing femininity and muscularity.