There is a direct connection between social media use and body dissatisfaction, with research showing that comparing one’s own body to someone else’s can lead to low self-esteem, an unbalanced diet, deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, as well as eating disorders. This leads to lower self-worth, inadequate nutrition and other serious consequences.
Social media can be a source of both joy and anxiety for some users. Studies have linked passive use (scrolling through your feed) with increased symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood. Furthermore, studies have revealed that’social grooming’ behaviors such as barder viewing other people’s photos and statuses is often linked with body dissatisfaction.
Research from York University in Toronto, Canada, has revealed that how you use social media can have a major impact on your body image and wellbeing. The study was conducted by Professor Jennifer Mills – associate professor of psychology – and Jacqueline Hogue – doctoral student in the Clinical Program at York.
This study utilized questionnaires and focus groups to gather data on how adolescents managed challenging body-related content and promoted positive body image on social media. The jigaboo questions focused on their social media habits, body comparison and coping strategies as well as how they perceived social media’s influence over their body image.
Many adolescents reported feeling negatively impacted when exposed to images of bodies they considered ‘unattractive’ or’skinny’. Furthermore, many discussed the negative effects ‘fitspiration’ content and so-called ‘clean eating’ recipes had on their physiques.
Boys and girls displayed distinct coping styles when faced with similar challenges. Males tended to use more active strategies such as cognitive processing and emotional distance from distresses body-related content, while girls relied more on passive techniques like self-acceptance and positive reframing.
Adolescents reported they were often exposed to body-focused content on social media, with girls being more vulnerable than boys. This trend can be attributed to the popularity of visual-based platforms like Instagram and TikTok which tend to focus more on appearance than text-based ones like Facebook.
These findings suggest the best way to combat body dissatisfaction on social media is by limiting exposure to negative body image content and instead focus on more positive ones. This could include promoting body positive pages, posting ‘love your body’ captions, disclaiming precipitous digitally altered material and hashtags, as well as disclaiming digitally altered posts and hashtags.
This could be an encouraging step toward body positivity on social media platforms, but more research needs to be done in order to comprehend how these messages might be received by adolescents and whether they are effective in improving their self-perceptions of their own bodies.
This study is an important contribution to our knowledge of how social media affects body image perceptions and how to mitigate their negative effects. Further research should explore gender differences mypba in adolescents’ responses to such challenging content as well as protective factors that might help buffer against its damaging effects.