Since 2009, one of the world’s largest and most circulated sports mediums, ESPN, has been publishing an annual nude magazine. Formerly known as ESPN’s Body Issue, this magazine seeks to highlight aesthetics of the athletic form, as well as the power of testimony told through the inhabited bodies of the magazine’s featured athletes. Over the years, the magazine has featured many identities, including the representation of varying races, genders, body types, physical abilities, and sports. This study particularly examines the representation of a Black woman athlete, Tori Bowie, as featured in the magazine’s tenth edition. Furthermore, this study focuses on the paradox that exists between the liberation of visibility and the restriction of mediated narratives. To do so, this research employs visual analysis in conjunction with autoethnography—incorporating myself, a Black woman athlete, as an additional artifact to be considered throughout this research. Through recognition of particular gazes, including the objectifying gaze and the “black female gaze,” this study dissects depictions of Tori Bowie, as well as my own surveillance of self, for larger hegemonic implications and social structures—including but not limited to whiteness, beauty standards, colorism, and misogyny.


Nikoi, Nii


Communication Studies


Communication | Critical and Cultural Studies | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Mass Communication | Public Relations and Advertising | Social Influence and Political Communication


race, gender, gaze, sport, liberation, mediated narratives, beauty, autoethnography

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis Exemplar



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