Body image is something that is imbedded in every female’s head since
the moment they are able to understand it, women are always looking in the
mirror comparing their bodies to the bodies of others seen all around the
internet, television, magazines, and even in real life. Women are always
questioning whether their bodies are too big, too small, too short and too
tall, and it has reached a point in society where it has become very dangerous
to be having this constant comparison to other females because it is creating a
platform for depression, eating disorders and more to be present in our
everyday lives. Ultimately, during this study, using other articles, studies
and pre -determining survey results, we will be trying to determine whether
social media has an impact on the body image of females, and digging deep into
the roots and causes of why and how this is.
During the research of the connection between social media and body
image, the first article that was analyzed was written by Nancy Clark, and is
called “Social Media and Body Image:
Fitspiration as Its Worst” and focusses on the role of social media on the
body image of women. The article focuses on the mental health of women and how
they are personally affected when exposed to picture perfect women such as
celebrities. The article discusses how women are exposed, and then quickly turn
to things such as diets, pills, and “magic cleanses” that are supposed to turn
them into the picture perfect women they see on screen. (Clark, Nancy 2017) Although
it has been known over the years that many of these methods are extremely
unsuccessful, what a lot of women tend to forget is the risk that these options
have on their mental and physical health. “Unfortunately, the thinness
in social media posts is thinner than the
women we see in real life. A survey
of 600 Instagram images indicates the vast majority of pictures showed only one
body type: thin and toned (Tiggemann & Zaccardo 2016). Repeated exposure to
these idolized physiques leads us to believe that lean, toned bodies are
normal, attainable, expected and central to attractiveness. e end result:
overwhelming dissatisfaction with one’s own body (Grabe et al. 2016). And we
all know what that leads to: dieting that can be more harmful than helpful (Clark,
Nancy 2017)”. This proves that the vast majority of posts people see on
Instagram are of the picture perfect, slim, lean, tan, fit body type. This
leads people, specifically women in this case to idolize the people that they
see, and want to be just like them; this is when it starts to become dangerous.
Continuing on the research
regarding social media and body image, another article that exists with
information regarding the topic is written by Blair Burnette, Melissa Kwitiwoski,
and Suzanne Mazzeo, called “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.” This article focuses on
younger girls, specifically females in the 7-8th grade, and the
results of their focus group. The girls were interviewed and spoke about social
platform such as Snapchat and Instagram and the effect that those platforms had
on them in relation to body image. In the focus group from this research, 35/36
girls reportedly had access to social media at home (Burnette, C. B.,
Kwitowski, M. A., & Mazzeo, S. E, 2017), so already it has been identified
that almost all of the girls can access and have exposure to these body types. “Facilitators
asked participants if they believed social media influenced their tendency to
compare themselves to others. Further questions probed whether participants
made comparisons to peers or celebrities, or on other media types (e.g., TV or
magazines). In all groups, participants endorsed some degree of social
or appearance concern. However, in
most groups, participants displayed awareness of the consequences of social
comparisons and demonstrated various strategies they use to buffer the effects.
In addition, data triangulation from transcribers and note-takers indicate
questions probing comparisons were often met with quiet or hesitation to
share.” (Burnette, C. B., Kwitowski, M. A., & Mazzeo, S. E, 2017) The girls
admit that social media did influence them to compare themselves to others such
as celebrities and peers, they did also admit that they had awareness of the
consequences of these comparisons.
The next article that was analyzed was written by Sian
McLean, Eleanor H, Jennifer Paxton and Susan J.
and is called “A pilot of
evaluation of a social media intervention to reduce risk factors for eating
disorders”. This article focuses on the research of eating disorders that
develop in young adolescent girls based off of social media exposure. During
this research, they experimented with 101 adolescent girls who received 3
intervention lessons regarding social media, body image and the risk for eating
disorders. “Measures of correlates of body image
were internalisation of the thin-ideal (Schaefer et al., 2015), upward
appearance comparison (O’Brien et al., 2009), appear- ance conversations
(Jones, Vigfusdottir, & Lee, 2004), fear of fat (Gold- farb, Dykens, &
Gerrard, 1985), and fear of negative appearance evaluation (Lundgren, Anderson,
& Thompson, 2004). Media literacy variables were realism skepticism and
critical thinking about appear- ance focused media (McLean, Paxton, &
Wertheim, 2016a),( McLean, S. A., Wertheim, E. H., Masters, J., &
Paxton, S. J, 2017) Their data revealed that having weekly interventions can
have small to medium effects of how young girls view their body and compare
themselves to what they see they on the media. The article speaks about how the
study was conducted in order to understand the negative effects of engaging in
social media. (McLean, S.
A., Wertheim, E. H., Masters, J., & Paxton, S.
J, 2017) Overall, this study shows the effects in an intervention amongst
The last article analyzed during this study was
written by Richard Perloff, and is called “Social
Meida Effects on Young Women’s Body Image Concerns”. The article is about
the influence that social media has on young teenager’s body image. This
article also incorporates eating disorders, and different ways that children
can receive help in order to counter the messages that the media is sending out
regarding body image. This article relates most with the research question:
Does social media have an impact on female’s body image. “These differences between conventional and social media
have important implications for social media effects on body image concerns.
Social media are filled with pictures of an individual, her online friends, and
multitudes of thin-idealized images that an adolescent girl or young woman may
have located and pinned to a page. Social networking sites are available for
viewing, content-creating, and editing 24/7, on mobile devices, anywhere,
anytime, allowing for exponential- ly more opportunities for social comparison
and dysfunctional surveillance of pictures of disliked body parts than were
ever available with the conventional mass media” (Perloff, Richard, 2017). This
study compares the difference between “social media” and “social networking”
and how they differ based off of the different uses that exist within both,
Perloff is gearing towards that social media is more of an outlet for the
creative of negative body image rather than social networking.
If research were to be conducted during this analysis,
the method that would be used to conduct it would be the survey method. The
survey method would be the best option for this specific question because it
will determine answers straight forward, fast, and help obtain information
quickly within the large member of participants that exist within this study.
and help dig deeper into the underlying question: Does Social Media Have an
Impact on Female Body Image? If the survey would to be conducted in real life,
it would take place in Canada at a high school, involving girls from grades
9-12, ages 14-18. This age group would be the most successful when it comes to
results based off of social media usage. The girls would be selected at random,
no names would be disclosed and if at any time the girls felt uncomfortable
they were able to opt out of completing the survey. For other confidentiality
reasons, the name of the high school would not be disclosed either. In total,
200 girls would be survived, this number would give enough data to determine a
conclusion. The girls would be asked a series of 5 survey questions, and they
would be given 15 minutes to complete. The survey would be conducted in a
classroom setting, and there would be approx. 30 girls in a room at a time.
Based off of the number of participants and the research question, the survey
method would be the most comprehensible and beneficial if the data were to
actually be collected.
If survey were to be conducted,
these would be the results. No real collection of data was used in this
Survey can be found in Appendix A.
The questions that would have been
asked in this survey are:
How often are you exposed to social media?
How old are you?
Are you overall happy with the way you look?
Do celebrities on social media have an influence
on the way you want to look?
Have you ever tried to change the way you look
because of someone you saw on social media?
Question #1 that was asked had the
results of 180 girls selecting A) everyday. The other 20 selecting B) every few
days, and none answering C) once a week, or D) never. Just from question #1 it
is indicated that 90% of girls are exposed to social media every day.
Question #2 would have had the
results expected, 40 girls were 14, 40 girls were 15, 40 girls were 16, 40
girls were 17, and the last 40 were 18. If the survey was done we would want
there to be an equal number of girls=ages so that the best data can be
Question #3, 20 girls answered that
they are overall happy with the way they look, 145 girls answered no, and the
remanding 35 girls would prefer not to say. 72.5% of girls surveyed that were
unhappy with the way they look, 70% of them were ages 17 and 18. This indicates
that social media has more of a negative influence on girls over the age of 16.
Question #4, 115 girls answered
that celebrities on social media have an influence on the way they want to
look. 65 girls answered that no, they do not. The other 20 participants would
prefer not to say.
Question #5, 111 girls answered
that they have tried to change they way they look because of someone they saw
on the internet. 65 girls answered “No”, and the other 24 would prefer not to
say. 55% of girls surveyed have tried to change the way they looked based off
of someone they saw on the internet.
The survey results that would have happened if the
survey was actually conducted, there is a few conclusions that can be made. It
can be concluded that the older girls in the survey (17 and 18) had more
exposure to social media than the younger girls, (14, 15, 16) which determines
that social media has more of a negative effect regarding body image on girls
that are over the age of 16. It can also be determined that the “prefer not to
say” category was more voted by girls who were 14, so this can mean that they
did not feel comfortable answering based off a young age, or maybe they did not
comprehend the question well enough to give an answer based off of their age.
Only 20 girls were overall happy with the way they looked, 60% of these girls
being 16 years old, 16 is the medium age of this survey group so it is possible
that being 16 they are less occupied by social media, and happier with the way
they look. 100% of the girls so were exposed to social media daily also
answered that they were NOT happy with the way the look, 60% of those girls
answered that they have tried to change the way they looked based off
someone they saw on the internet. Overall it can be determined that social media
has an effect on female’s body image.
Based on the information, it can be concluded that
yes, social media does impact female’s body image. Based off of the articles
researched, it can also be concluded that not only does social media impact
body image, but it also influences eating disorders in young girls. When women
are exposed to unrealistic images of celebrities and photo shopped females, it
creates an idea in their head of achieving that body type, people go through
dieting options, magic pills and more to achieve the picture- perfect look,
that is ultimately unattainable. Social media can be dangerous for vulnerable
females, wanting to achieve thin, perfect body types can also lead girls into a
depressive state, all which negatively impact the human body and mind.
Ultimately, social media has a large impact on the female body image.
Works Cited List
Burnette, C. B., Kwitowski, M. A., & Mazzeo, S. E.
(2017). “I don’t need people to tell me I’m
social media:” A qualitative study of social media and body image in early
adolescent girls. Body Image, 23114-125.
CLARK, N. (2017). Social Media and Body Image: #Fitspiration
at Its Worst. American
Fitness, 35(2), 66-68.
G Merrigan, Carole L, Johnston R. (2017) Communication
Research Methods. Canadian Edition.
McLean, S. A., Wertheim, E. H., Masters, J., & Paxton,
S. J. (2017). A pilot evaluation of a
social media literacy
intervention to reduce risk factors for eating disorders. International
Journal Of Eating Disorders, 50(7), 847-851. doi:10.1002/eat.22708
Perloff, R. r. (2014). Social Media Effects on Young Women’s
Body Image Concerns:
Theoretical Perspectives and an
Agenda for Research. Sex Roles, 71(11-12), 363-377.