Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Kinesiology and Health Promotion

First Advisor

Dr. Marc Cormier


Research consistently supports associations between body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating pathologies in collegiate athletes (e.g., Reel & Voelker, 2012; Sundgot-Borgen, 1994). More specifically, female NCAA athletes report feeling torn between peak performance body composition and body fat levels fitting ideal feminine standards (Beckner & Record, 2016; Carson et al., 2020). Examining track and field, most event groups hold a lean-promoting perspective. However, heptathletes warrant further investigation due to the multifaceted and contradictory nature of events. Specifically, heptathletes encounter complex pressures training for a wide range of physical demands, which can create confusion in expected body types (Heazlewood et al., 2014). Therefore, the current study’s purpose was to explore body image and eating behaviors of former NCAA heptathletes. Interview questions followed the sociocultural model of disordered eating (Fitzsimmons-Craft et al., 2014) and were grounded in past research studies (Carson et al., 2020; Greenleaf, 2020; Lichtenstein et al., 2022). A thematic analysis of interview responses revealed categories of sport specific pressures, general and social pressures, individual pathologies, and support systems. Within these categories, themes and subthemes were discussed. Findings contribute to growing knowledge of athletes’ body image, eating behaviors, and existing pressures, while subsequently creating a foundation for future initiatives.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)