Body Image and Social Media

Overview

Social media platforms continue to grow in popularity, and adolescents in particular create and consume a large amount of content. Many of these services encourage users to share photos and videos of themselves, and adolescents can be the target of bullying and criticism over their appearance. In addition to this external influence on body image, teens can experience self-esteem and body image issues as a result of comparing themselves to others they see on social media–especially if the images they see have been heavily edited. This guide provides research related to the effects of social media images on appearance-related concerns.


Books & Chapters

Body image: Understanding Body Dissatisfaction in Men, Women and Children (2017)
This book provides a summary of interdisciplinary research on body image in men, women, and children. Data are also included from interviews and focus groups. Information specifically related to media can be found in the “Media Effects” chapter.

Technology and Adolescent Mental Health (2018)
Information for healthcare providers about the most recent approaches for clinical practice surrounding adolescents and technology use.

Journals

Body Image
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
International Journal of Eating Disorders

Articles

Baker N, Ferszt G, Breines JG. A qualitative study exploring female college students’ Instagram use and body image. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2019;22(4):277-282. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2018.0420.

Burnette CB, Kwitowski MA, Mazzeo SE. “I don’t need people to tell me I’m pretty on social media:” A qualitative study of social media and body image in early adolescent girls. Body Image. 2017;23:114-125. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.09.001.

Dumas AA, Desroches S. Women’s use of social media: What is the evidence about their impact on weight management and body image? Current Obes Rep. 2019;8(1):18-32. doi: 10.1007/s13679-019-0324-4.

Eckler P, Kalyango Y, Paasch E. Facebook use and negative body image among U.S. college women. Women Health. 2017;57(2):249-267. doi: 10.1080/03630242.

Fardouly J, Diedrichs PC, Vartarian LR, Halliwell E. Social comparisons on social media: the impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood. Body Image. 2015;13:38-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.12.002.

Fardouly J, Willburger BK, Vartanian LR. Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways. New Media Soc. 2018;20(4):1380-1395. doi.org/10.1177/1461444817694499.

Fardouly J, Diedrichs PC, Vartanian LR, Halliwell E. The mediating role of appearance comparisons in the relationship between media usage and self-objectification in young women. Psychol Women Q. 2015;39(4):447-457. doi.org/10.1177/0361684315581841.

Mclean SA, Wertheim EH, Masters J, Paxton SJ. A pilot evaluation of a social media literacy intervention to reduce risk factors for eating disorders. Int J Eat Disorder. 2017;50(7):847-851. doi: 10.1002/eat.22708.

Oksanen A, Garcia D, Rasanen P. Proanorexia communities on social media. Pediatrics. 2016;137(1). doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3372.

Rogers RF, Mclean SA, Paxton SJ. Longitudinal relationships among internalization of the media ideal, peer social comparison, and body dissatisfaction: implications for the tripartite influence model. Dev Psychol. 2015;51(5):706-13. doi: 10.1037/dev0000013.

Rousseau A, Eggermont S. Media ideals and early adolescents’ body image: Selective avoidance or selective exposure? Body Image. 2018;26:50-59. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.06.001.

Shah J, Das P, Muthiah N, Milanaik R. New age technology and social media: adolescent psychosocial implications and the need for protective measures. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2019;31(1):148-156. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000714.

Tamplin NC, McLean SA, Paxton SJ. Social media literacy protects against the negative impact of exposure to appearance ideal social media images in young adult women but not men. Body Image. 2018;26:29-37. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.05.003.

Tiggemann M, Slater A. Facebook and body image concern in adolescent girls: A prospective study. Int J Eat Disord. 2017;50(1):80-83. doi: 10.1002/eat.22640.

Tiggeman M, Slater A. NetGirls: the internet, Facebook, and body image concern in adolescent girls. Int J Eat Disord. 2013;46(6):630-3. doi: 10.1002/eat.22141

Vries D, Vossen H, van der Kolk – van der Boom P. Social media and body dissatisfaction: Investigating the attenuating role of positive parent–adolescent relationships. J Youth Adolesc. 2019;48(3):527-536. doi: 10.1007/s10964-018-0956-9.

Websites

Center for Young Women’s Health & Center for Young Men’s Health
Descriptive information as well as tips and tools for young women and men to develop a positive body image and good self-esteem.

Media Smarts: Talking to Kids about Media and Body Image
A tip sheet for talking about media and body image with young children, tweens, and teens.

Researchers of Note

Amy Slater
Jasmine Fardouly
Marika Tiggemann

Policies & Guidelines

National Eating Disorders Collaboration: Social Media and Body Image
A list of resources on body image and social media along with guidelines for prevention and intervention regarding the negative effects of social media use.

Reports

The Complicated Truth about Social Media and Body Image
BBC News