Sporting bodies, societal norms in history Examining body image and identity

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Ferdinando Cereda


The historical exploration of the body in sports hinges upon the value attributed to the body throughout time and converges various social science approaches, encompassing philosophical, religious, educational perspectives, and intersecting histories that involve political, sociological, economic, and medical dimensions. Sports, as a multifaceted cultural phenomenon, hold profound sociocultural significance, reflecting prevailing attitudes towards the human body. The study of body image in sports history becomes a nexus where anthropology, sociology, psychology, and sports science converge, offering valuable insights into the evolution of body ideals and their implications on athlete identity. This examination delves deep into the annals of sports history, unearthing the evolving notions of body image and its impact on athlete identity, shedding light on the implications of historical body image ideals for contemporary sports culture and proposing recommendations for fostering a positive body image and identity in sports. The objectives of this narrative review include unearthing the historical evolution of body image ideals, examining the influence of societal norms on perceptions of athletic bodies throughout history, unravelling the role of media, technology, and popular culture in shaping body image ideals in sports, and identifying the intimate connection between body image and athlete identity, exploring its profound ramifications on athletic performance and overall well-being. By synthesizing findings from existing systematic reviews and scholarly works, this exploration aims to illuminate the intricate interplay between sporting bodies and societal norms throughout history and their enduring legacy on sports culture in the present day.

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How to Cite
Cereda, F. (2023). Sporting bodies, societal norms in history: Examining body image and identity. Scientific Journal of Sport and Performance, 2(4), 572–589.
Sport History
Author Biography

Ferdinando Cereda, Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Milan

Department of Education.


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