Study Explores Facebook’s Effects on Body Image

Young Woman Using Mobile Phone On Sofa At HomeMany 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.

Women who spent more time on Facebook and who had a large Facebook social network were deemed more emotionally connected to Facebook. The study found that women who were highly connected to Facebook were more likely to compare their bodies to those of other Facebook users, which increased a woman’s likelihood of experiencing poor body image and engaging in risky dieting practices.

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.

References:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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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  • Becki

    Becki

    July 28th, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    It does a number on my self esteem that’s for sure when I see everyone having a great time at the ebach in swimsuits and all and all I can think about is where is my cover up or towel

  • Maura

    Maura

    July 28th, 2015 at 3:05 PM

    Ok so I thought that FB should be about having fun online, reconnecting with friends both old and new, and should not be about feeling even worse about ourselves than many of us already do! Come on people, this is supposed to be a fun little pastime, not just one more thing to add to our list of things that make us miserable. My advice is that if you are using this to constantly measure yourself against other people or try to prove something to others, then it might be time for you to get off the grid for a little while.

  • Laken

    Laken

    July 28th, 2015 at 5:31 PM

    But the people exhibiting this low self esteem are going to have this regardless of whether there was ever something called Facebook or not!
    Social media is not the only enemy out there-
    a lot of this is brought on by what we have created ourselves.

  • trent

    trent

    July 29th, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Use it how it was meant to be used and you are good to go

  • Marina

    Marina

    July 30th, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    I have to agree with Trent.
    Basically if I let everything that I saw online determine how I felt about myself then I honestly may never leave the house.

  • Mikayla

    Mikayla

    December 15th, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    It doesn’t matter if you are using facebook or not, or if you are using any social media website at all. Low self esteem is an internal conflict. Simply going off the grid or using facebook like it is meant to be used doesn’t really help. You can not just simply forget about it or not compare yourself. It doesn’t work that way.

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