Caela Fenton on media representations of women distance runners

Social Sport

October 18, 2021

Caela Fenton is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Oregon. Her research lies primarily in cultural studies of sport, utilizing feminist approaches to consider gender equity in sport industry, as well as digital iterations of physical culture. Her academic work has appeared in The International Journal of the History of Sport, Narrative, and Aethlon. Her journalistic work has appeared in Canadian Running Magazine, iRun, and The XC. Most recently, she served on the communications team at the US Olympic Track and Field Trials.

In this episode, we discuss social media as it relates to professional athletics, gendered expectations, and capitalism. We also discuss representations of women distance runners throughout time and in various forms of media. Caela blows Emma’s mind multiple times, and she will likely blow your mind, too!

Discussed in this episode:

Running, Identity, and Meaning by Neil Baxter

–Athlete identity crises

Perdita Felicien

Sarah Banet-Weiser and brand culture

–Women runners and self-representation over Instagram

–Fetishization of female runners’ bodies

Heather Caplan on Social Sport

Colleen Quigley’s Instagram post on pulling out of Olympic Trials

Allie Ostrander’s video on beginning eating disorder treatment


Once a Runner by John L. Parker

“Why I Loathe Once a Runner,” Caela’s article in Canadian Running

Late Air by Jaclyn Gilbert

–Inadequate representation of Black women runners

“Jogging Has Always Excluded Black People,” but Natalia Mehlman Petrzela for NYTimes

Risa Isard on Social Sport

“Hayward Magic in the Era of Globalized Sport Culture”

-Coach Tom Heinonen

The Passage series


“Okay, I’m a powerful athlete, but let me make sure I look good in all of these photos, while targeting a heterosexual audience…a lot of shirtless photos, a lot of having the time of my life, really upbeat, nothing is going wrong, injury isn’t posted about, bad workouts aren’t posted about—look at me I’m doing my thing, and I’m wearing Nike.” -Caela Fenton on social media expectations of professional women athletes

“In coaching positions I would like to see more women of color, LGBTQ and disabled folks. That doesn’t fix everything, but it is somewhere to start—having people that are making these spaces safer and more accessible.” -Caela Fenton

“We’ve celebrated and monetized sport to the nth degree now, so there’s a lot of clout behind it. There’s a lot of power behind these athletes, these platforms, and these organizations, so we need to hold them accountable and push them forward into more accountable and accessible spaces.” -Caela Fenton

Follow Caela: Twitter, Instagram

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