Many people experience insecurity regarding their bodies: A survey conducted by REAL magazine found that, of the 5000 British women surveyed, only 3% reported total happiness with their body. The other 97% of women were dissatisfied with their bodies in some way, with six out of 10 reporting feelings of depression due to their body image.
Current widespread use of social media can often make it easier for people to compare themselves to others, which may increase vulnerability to body image issues. According to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the effects that Facebook can have on body image depend on how Facebook is used.
When Does Facebook Harm Body Image?
Researchers recruited 128 college-aged women to take an online survey about their body image, Facebook usage, and eating habits. Participants answered questions about whether they engaged in risky dieting habits, such as taking diet pills, and whether they were dissatisfied with their own bodies. Participants also provided information on how frequently they used Facebook.
Contrary to previous research, which found a connection between mere Facebook use and self-esteem issues, this study did not find a direct connection between social media use and body image concerns. In fact, women who used Facebook and did not compare themselves to other women did not experience a higher rate of body image issues.
This finding, the researchers suggest, sheds light on how Facebook and other social media sites may affect body image. People who post images and statuses to compete with or compare themselves to others may experience negative consequences, such as low self-esteem or body image concerns, as a result of their social media use. But this study suggests the risk of experiencing a higher rate of body image issues is minimal for those who simply use Facebook to connect and share with friends.
- Cruz, C. (2015, July 21). Facebook users don’t always have a poor body image or a risky diet. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/social-networking-facebook-users-dont-always-have-poor-body-image-or-risky-diet-344048
- Preidt, R. (2015, July 27). Does Facebook lead young women to dangerous diets? Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/07/27/does-facebook-lead-young-women-to-dangerous-diets
- Most women ‘unhappy with their bodies’ (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-146021/Most-women-unhappy-bodies.html
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