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Freedom between the lines: clothing behavior and identity work among young female soccer players

Our research examines the relationship among identity, age, gender and athleticism through a study of the association between sports clothing and the identity work of pre-adolescent female soccer players. Based on participant-observation and interviews conducted at three co-ed youth soccer camps, we find that age is an important element of identity, particularly as it intersects with the girls’ evolving understanding of femininity and engagement in athletics. While age can be credited with providing freedom in which clothing is deployed as a device for identity construction, its intersection with gender and athleticism also constraints girls’ clothing behavior.