Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)

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Representations of Female Athletes in Sports Nutrition Advertising
It is a small rural community of about 6, people. No universal consensus exists on the optimal vitamin D intake or the optimal plasma concentrations of hydroxyvitamin D. Arch Gen Psychiatry ; Effects of vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure. This Division advances health and equity through population chronic disease prevention strategies, improving clinical care quality and access, and advancing the use of information technology. Conclusions, unanswered questions, and future research In conclusion, although vitamin D has been extensively studied in relation to a range of outcomes and some indications exist that low plasma vitamin D concentrations might be linked to several diseases, firm universal conclusions about its benefits cannot be drawn. Upon graduation, Andrea began practice as a paralegal where she has spent over twenty years of dedicated service towards resolving domestic affairs, mentoring interns, and maintaining an accommodating environment for clientele.


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Both samples of commercials were dominated by Gatorade and Powerade, which, in the sample, tended to feature male athletes from professional and collegiate basketball 24 of 37 male athletes , as well as pro and college football. There were, however, two Powerade spots created for the London Summer Olympics that included female track athletes. Again, women were underrepresented, this time at a ratio of nearly nine to one. They did, however, appear in some of the most widely televised and shared ads, so their impact was likely more than their numbers suggest, something discussed in more detail below.

Commercials in the sample included female athletes in tennis, soccer, beach volleyball, and boxing, while males were represented by football, basketball, track, boxing, weight training, and calisthenics. The ways in which female athletes were portrayed was also quite different from what is the case in televised sports coverage. Representation Bruce 14 revisits several techniques that continue to be employed in televised sports media with regard to its representation of female athletes.

For the most part, these devices were not a part of sports nutrition advertising. Compulsive heterosexuality was also absent, as female athletes were pictured alone, in competition or training, wearing sport appropriate clothing that was functional, rather than sexy, leaving their sexuality and relationships off screen.

Being pretty does not sell sports nutrition. Hence, Serena Williams, not Anna Kournikova, was featured more than any other female athlete in the sample, and other highly successful athletes, including Sharapova, Jessica Ennis and Hope Solo appeared in the earlier sample. In other ways, it was similar, if more subtle. Marginalization, segregation, and other semiotic devices Many commercials featuring women marginalized them in terms of male to female athlete ratio and screen time.

Representation in the virtual world signifies social existence, while the absence of representation for women encourages audiences to form a view of sport where women are symbolically absent, even though they are present in large numbers 29, The female athlete, however, only makes it onscreen for 4. Women and men are shown in equal numbers four each , with female athletes represented by a runner, a tennis player, and two soccer players.

Athletes appear onscreen for 59 seconds of the second ad. However, women were at times portrayed in ways that reinforced male dominance in sport, as when two runners, a black female and a white male, are shown running together in the PowerBar ad, the only instance of women and men training together in either sample.

The female athlete, however, is shown running behind the male for The split second in which she is shown leading him is so brief both coders missed it in real time, only discovering it in later frame-by-frame analysis. Leaving aside the intersectionality 23 of race and gender, her being behind him nearly the entire time normalizes the idea that men are naturally faster than women. None of the women of sports nutrition were shown in passive poses, as fashion models might be 36, Instead, they were actively training, competing, and sweating like the men who appeared in the same commercials, presenting a view of relative gender equality.

The two genders, however, rarely inhabited the screen at the same time, reflecting gender segregation in the non-virtual world in which men and women are often spatially separated when they perform the same tasks The other 29 athletes are shown engaged in competition, wearing uniforms and playing in front of enthusiastic crowds.

In contrast, Williams is depicted practicing her serve, alone, in an empty stadium wearing leggings and a tank top. Cutting between the two presents a stark contrast between someone practicing at being an athlete and those who have already made the cut. Three other aspects of visual grammar are germane to this discussion. Sports nutrition advertising very much offers up images of athletes for us to gaze upon. The athletes do not look directly at us, but are most often competing or training, their gazes directed at the action on the field or offscreen, while we watch them play.

A second relevant aspect of visual grammar is the relationship between power and the visual angle. If the view is from a high angle, meaning we are gazing down on the action, then we, the viewer, are in a position of power relative to the represented In nearly all of the commercials in the sample, the reverse was true.

A third grammatical device employed here was the absence of voice for athletes, replaced by the off-screen voiceover of an anonymous, older, white male. This device was observed on websites in the use of a disembodied voice of science providing product information with no identifiable author or source The anonymous nature of the voiceovers only adds to their symbolic position of power over both the athlete and the viewer.

Seventeen of the 20 commercials in the sample featured white, male voiceovers, while none of the Gatorade spots and only three of the Powerade commercials used the device in the sample, suggesting it was no longer successful. Soundtracks employing popular music were most often the choice instead.

The bars came in bright yellow wrappers with a hot pink logo that simultaneously suggested a woman and a butterfly. The events awarded finishers medals in the shape of the logo bedazzled in magenta glitter, and the bibs runners wore were similarly festooned with pink flowery swirls. For comparison, the product marketed to men produced by the same company, PowerBar, featured a male runner sprinting across a mountain ridge, sweating, shirt and hair whipping in the wind.

The language used to describe LUNA bars was also unusual in that there were virtually no references to improved athletic performance. Instead, the label read:. Food feeds our souls, lifts our spirits, nourishes and sustains us. So, why does finding the right thing to eat sometimes seem so complicated?

Contrast this with verbiage for PowerBar Energy Gels, a product targeted at competitive endurance athletes, including cyclists like those pictured on the LUNA site:. Sodium is the key electrolyte lost in sweat and is the only electrolyte recommended to be replaced during endurance exercise.

PowerBar Energy gels contain mg sodium — a key electrolyte lost in sweat that is associated with muscle cramping in some athletes. There is little overlap between them.

The first maps onto research showing women not only buy products based on use-related aspects, but because they symbolize emotional attachment and interpersonal relations 26, Reflecting evidence that traditional femininity is no longer popular in modern western cultures 35 , product marketing in the sample moved towards androgynous, and at times masculine, representations of female athletes.

Androgyny It was pointed out over two decades ago 50 that in order for women to become involved in a wider variety of athletic activities, sport needed to be coded as neither male, nor female, meaning its behavior and artifacts must be largely gender neutral. This is occurring to a greater degree in sports nutrition marketing for products aimed at endurance athletes.

These brands lack the television advertising budgets of Gatorade and Powerade, meaning this quiet revolution is taking place largely online. In the case of the track cyclists on the Bonk Breaker site, both genders although never shown cycling together are wearing sunglasses and aerodynamic helmets that obscure facial features and hairstyles. They also wear nearly identical tight fitting cycling apparel in similar colors and are engaged in cycling competition. Part of what allows for such gender-neutral representations is arguably the sports themselves, as well as the context in which the athletes are portrayed.

Competitive cycling requires equipment and clothing that does not vary much between genders, as is the case with triathlon and running. Contrast this with figure skating, where costumes are highly stylized and gender specific, or beach volleyball, where female Olympians wear bikinis. Level of competition may also neutralize gender associations for these sports, especially with regard to clothing.

Competitors at the elite level in cycling wear either the colors of their team sponsor s or of their country, depending on the event, overriding gender associations with any particular color.

Thus, Hammer, Bausch, and Reed are dressed in red, white, and blue, the colors of the U. Olympic team, rather than the pink or blue associated with gender differentiation in contemporary American culture One of the Boys?

Given that soccer is more often associated with women in the U. Only female athletes are shown, an anomaly in the sample. She was also allowed to speak for herself throughout the commercial, also highly unusual in the sample.

The commercial stands out in terms of representation in that it provided viewers an image of a successful female athlete competing aggressively, not sexualized, not being outnumbered by male athletes, or given less time onscreen. The second commercial begins with an actress portraying Shields as a little girl sitting on a porch punching birthday balloons.

It then cuts to the adult Shields training alone with a speed bag in a boxing gym. She is only on view from the waist up, heavily muscled, punching the bag, sweating, wearing a tank top and no make up, with her hair pulled back, all signaling that she is to be taken seriously as an athlete.

Shields appears onscreen for eight seconds, during which an older, white, male voice asks us,. It does so, however, using a white, male voice of authority, rather than allowing Shields to speak for herself. It also refers to Shields, the only boxer in U.

Shields was the most competitively successful of the three athletes chosen for this series, and she was competing in a gender atypical sport 8 , providing Powerade the opportunity to break new ground, which it did to a degree with the explicitly feminist content of its voiceover.

The dunk was also easily recognizable and reproducible in the small sizes necessary for use on mobile phones. Interestingly, Williams was not photographed in tennis clothing, but with her hair pinned up, wearing a baggy flannel shirt, suggesting her fame was sufficient to identify her as an athlete.

Her filter, however, was confined to the small screens of mobile phones, rather than the television screens of most Super Bowl advertising, meaning its largest impact was likely exposure to Generation Y, along with its re presentations from user to user, with millions of women and girls creating and sharing photos of themselves as NFL players being dunked, just like Williams. Repetition and Impact Commercials stand to have a major impact in terms of increasing the visibility of female athletes simply due to their sheer repetition.

Released in December , this commercial aired nationally 7, times as of June , and had been viewed over 9. The latter were two of the most watched sporting events of the year, with 26 million 75 and 9. The commercial features athletes in every frame except for 1. Sixty-eight athletes are pictured in total, 62 males in four sports: The remaining six are female, Serena Williams and five girls portraying a high school soccer team.

The anonymous members of the marching band get nearly as much screen time as Williams. Hence, there is female representation in the most widely viewed sports nutrition advertisement of , but women are still quite marginalized in terms of numbers of athletes and screen time.

In fact, four seconds of screen time shown 7, times adds up to nearly hours of exposure for female athletes they would not have had otherwise, in the very context of male dominated sporting events from which they are typically absent.

The female athletes of sports nutrition are not only visible, but are presented in ways that highlight their athletic ability over their sexuality, increasing their appeal as sporting role models for girls Although the effects of media representation on viewers is the subject of ongoing debate 35,,47 , the high degree of repetitive exposure that female athletes receive in sports nutrition marketing has the potential to further normalize female participation in sport for mass sports audiences.

Although sports fans and athletes are the primary targets of sports nutrition marketing, it would behoove scholars of sports media, especially those advocating for a greater degree and variety of representation for women ,14,18,21,24,, , to take note of the more positive portrayals of female athletes in sports nutrition advertising.

Further, this message is literally repeated thousands of times during televised sports coverage. Millions more viewers are going online to watch these commercials on purpose, simultaneously receiving the message that women and girls belong on the screen and in the game.

In some small way, this increased exposure may lead to greater acceptance of women and girls as athletes on and off the field of play. The media image of the female athlete [Documentary film]. At Super Bowl, the Gatorade bath is marketing gold.

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