Increased time on Facebook could lead women to negative body images

April 10, 2014

The mediated version of what women should look like has always been under scrutiny, particularly looking at actresses and fashion models. But what about body image from social networks and friends? A recent study by researchers in the United Kingdom and United States, found that more time on Facebook could lead to more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends.

Petya Eckler, University of Strathclyde; Yusuf Kalyango Jr., Ohio University; and Ellen Paasch, University of Iowa will present their findings at the 64th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in Seattle, WA. The researchers surveyed 881 college women about their Facebook use, eating and exercise habits, and body image. They were able to predict how often women felt negatively about their own bodies after looking at someone else's photos or posts, and how often women compared their own bodies to those of their friends.

The findings also showed that more time spent on Facebook was associated with more and more comparisons to the bodies of friends. They also found that for women who want to lose weight, more time on Facebook led to more attention being paid to physical appearance. This included attention to one's body and clothing.

Previous studies have examined college or adolescent girls and the effect of Facebook on users' body image over non-users'. However, this is the first study to link time spent on Facebook to .

"Public health professionals who work in the area of eating disorders and their prevention now have clear evidence of how relates to college women's body image and eating disorders. While time spent on Facebook had no relation to eating disorders, it did predict worse body image among participants," said Eckler. "As experts in the field know, poor can gradually lead to developing an unhealthy relationship with food. The attention to physical attributes may be even more dangerous on social media than on because participants in social media are people we know. These comparisons are much more relevant and hit closer to home. Yet they may be just as unrealistic as the images we see on traditional media."

Explore further: Body image not always a drag on women's wellbeing

More information: "Facebook and College Women's Bodies: Social Media's Influence on Body Image and Disordered Eating," by Petya Eckler, Yusuf Kalyango Jr. and Ellen Paasch is to be presented at the 64th Annual International Communication Association Conference, Seattle, WA, 22-26 May 2014.

Related Stories

Peer pressure trumps 'thin' ideals in the media

January 30, 2013

Peers exert a greater influence on teenage girls' dissatisfaction with their bodies than do thin ideals in television or social media use, according to new research by Dr. Christopher J. Ferguson and colleagues from Texas ...

Does Facebook use affect body image in teen girls?

December 3, 2013

"Appearance exposure" on the Internet has been linked to body image disturbance among adolescent girls. A new study that links specific Facebook activities, but not overall Facebook use to body dissatisfaction and a drive ...

Is the "body positive" movement a consumerist revolution?

April 4, 2014

The body positive movement seeks to defy media projected bodily stereotypes, celebrate diversity and encourage bodily self-appreciation, warts and all! Does the body positive movement bring deliverance from uniformity or ...

Recommended for you

In analyzing a scene, we make the easiest judgments first

September 3, 2015

Psychology researchers who have hypothesized that we classify scenery by following some order of cognitive priorities may have been overlooking something simpler. New evidence suggests that the fastest categorizations our ...

Forensic examiners pass the face matching test

September 1, 2015

The first study to test the skills of FBI agents and other law enforcers who have been trained in facial recognition has provided a reassuring result - they perform better than the average person or even computers on this ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.