Girlie Girls Aren’t “Real” Athletes: A Critical Examination of Girls’ Experiences of Aesthetic Sports within a Post-Feminist Masquerade
The purpose of this feminist research was to understand the experiences of adolescent females currently participating in aesthetic sports. Specifically, I aimed to critically examine the ways in which the new feminine ideal and a post-feminist girl culture shape girls’ experiences. A social constructionist grounded theory approach was used and a purposive sample of eight girls, between the ages of 12-15, participated in this study. Three major themes that best reflect my interpretation of the experiences of the participants emerged: 1) Masculinities and revealing a higher social status in the school environment, 2) Framing success through gendered and neoliberal discourses, and 3) Constructing an ideal image. Moreover, the major themes resulted in the culmination of experiences leading to the core theme “Falling short of the neoliberal ideal.” The study highlights the need for educators and sport practitioners to advocate for a diversity of gender expression.