Student Research Projects

Body Image, Eating Attitudes, and Pressure on Female College Students

Student Jenny Wilkins ‘16 (Comprehensive Liberal Studies and Psychology)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course Psychology 480: Original Research Project


Female college students are pressured by all types of media to meet the thin ideal, which can affect their body images and eating tendencies. The current study investigates how social pressures affect body image, body image avoidance, and disordered eating in athletes versus non-athletes. Participants were 88 undergraduate women at Virginia Wesleyan College who answered pencil-and-paper questionnaires. Analyses were conducted using independent sample t-tests of each subscale with further testing of correlations and Fisher z-testing across two participant groups: athletes and non-athletes. Results showed a trend that non-athletes were more concerned about their body image, body image avoidance, and eating concerns than athletes. Also, results revealed that athletes were more concerned about the internalization of their body image when compared to athlete idealization. These findings bring light to the culture of athletics with regards to body image and the societal pressure on female college students to look a certain way.


Presented at the Virginia Psychological Association Conference in Virginia Beach, VA, April 2015.

Presented at the Works in Progress Conference at Virginia Wesleyan College, March 2015.