“It's a reflection of how I feel inside… of how I'm looking outside”: Racialized Young Women Athletes’ Descriptions of Body Self-Compassion


Body self-compassion, which is a kind, non-judgmental approach to the body, may be beneficial for racialized women athletes. Racialized young women athletes may struggle with their bodies due to requirements in their sport and demands placed on the body. Researchers have found that women athletes may experience body image pressures that may lead to being preoccupied with their bodies' form and function. This could be heightened for racialized young women because of their unique bodies and the pressures to fit a majority non-racialized body ideal. Thus, a compassionate approach to the body may be particularly important to cultivating positive sport experiences for racialized young women athletes. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore how racialized young women athletes in Canada describe their experiences of body self-compassion. Eight racialized young women athletes (Mage = 16.63 years, SD = 1.19) engaged in two semi-structured one-on-one interviews and photo reflection. A reflexive thematic analysis was conducted, and four themes were generated: (a) Representation, diversity, and compassion; (b) Accepting my body for performance; (c) Emotions about my body and (d) Attitudes about my body. The athletes described what compassion towards the body means to them and shared their experiences of extending compassion to their bodies in sport. Despite the challenges related to having unique bodies in sport, body self-compassion could enhance resilience and foster body appreciation through developing a more adaptive and compassionate relationship with the body.