Fit and Frail: Mediation, Medicalization, and Moralization in the Social Construction of the Female Athlete Triad

Levene, Abigail [Browse]
Senior thesis
172 pages


Westoff, Charles [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Sociology [Browse]
Class year
Restrictions note
Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Summary note
This study examines how the female athlete triad became conceptualized by medical ‘experts’ and clinically coined as an ‘illness.’ It is grounded in social theories concerning individual and societal risk aversion and social incarceration, and puzzle-work and persuasion in science and biomedicine. Historical and contemporary content analysis of medical and mass media texts is employed to trace and analyze the genesis of this ‘condition.’ Unveiling the hegemonic, universal, and objective façade of medicine, I argue that the development of the Triad is socio-historically contingent, the product of predominant partial perspectives concerning health, women, and sport. Creating and maintaining the Triad reflects ‘normal’ scientific processes of social contestation and persuasion, reflecting and reifying patriarchal visions of women as the reproductive units of society. I conclude that as the product of a hegemonic yet only partial understanding of health, the Triad proves simultaneously beneficial and detrimental, liberating and incarcerating, inclusionary and exclusionary. These tensions suggest that a more comprehensive understanding of female sports medicine is needed.

Supplementary Information