How Social Media Influences Body Image

How Social Media Influences Body Image


Research conducted the Psychological Society of Ireland has highlighted the impact of social media on body image. The study involved showing 211 women, aged 17 to 28, images and videos featuring young female social media influencers who embodied societal appearance ideals. The participants were then surveyed on various measures of body image, using comparison content without people for reference.

The findings revealed that even a short exposure to appearance-ideal content caused the women to compare themselves unfavorably, leading to negative emotions and increased body dissatisfaction. The total exposure time was only a minute and a half, indicating how quickly people absorb information from social media.

Dr Anne Kehoe, President of the Psychological Society of Ireland, explained that social media content often focuses on the beauty and physical appearance of individuals. The images and videos tend to emphasize specific elements such as the angle of the body or the quality of the skin, leaving little room for other aspects of a person’s identity.

Dr Kehoe highlighted that compared to other environments, social media presents a higher percentage of perfect-image bodies. Walking down the street, one is less likely to encounter as many idealized bodies as when scrolling through social media or glossy magazines. This constant exposure can lead individuals to believe that everyone looks like the images they see, leading to pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards.

Furthermore, Dr Kehoe noted that filters on social media platforms can exacerbate these feelings of inadequacy. Filters create an even more perfected version of already symmetrical bodies, giving individuals an unrealistic representation of beauty. Dr Kehoe emphasized the need to manage one’s exposure to such content and recognize the importance of other factors, like confidence and personality, in determining attractiveness.

Source: The Pat Kenny Show

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