Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Committee Chair

Jennifer Buckner


Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, female participation in athletics grows every year. Interestingly, media representations of professional female athletes have not always been indicative of this exciting and growing participation. This study explores the representations of professional female athletes and discusses implications and affordances of magazine and social media. In particular, the research analyzes five Sports Illustrated magazine covers and thirty Instagram posts to explore how female athletes have been presented on magazine covers and how they are representing themselves on social media. Using theories of gender, media, self-presentation, and visual rhetoric, this thesis analyzes how Sports Illustrated magazine covers are rooted in historical ideals of femininity and gender performances. The findings from the Instagram sample demonstrate that professional female athletes are presenting themselves in ways that reveal their passions, competition, and community to their fans and followers. In doing so, the female athletes from this research sample are reshaping how society understands and sees women in sports and female athleticism.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.