Abstract The objective of this study is to investigate the relationship between Instagram usage and body image satisfaction. Previous studies in this field have demonstrated that increased Instagram usage causes decreased body image satisfaction for women. This study examines both genders to find out whether there are differences regarding body image dissatisfaction that is caused by Instagram activity.
To test the hypothesis whether (1) increased Instagram activity leads to decreased body image satisfaction for both genders and that (2) body image dissatisfaction, caused by Instagram usage is higher among females than males, an online survey consisting of demographic questions as well as questions about Instagram usage and body satisfaction (Body Cathexis Scale (BCS) is given to male and female participants between the ages 18-30. Keywords: body image, body satisfaction, social media, Instagram, Introduction For along time traditional media channels have impacted people’s body image concernsin a negative way. With social media becoming more and more popular, sites likeFacebook and Instagram have become part of everyone’s daily lives and startedto influence people’s perception of themselves in their own way. A studyconducted in 2014 revealed that 74% of adults using Internet had some kind ofsocial media account (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016).
Hence currently Facebookis the most popular social media platform, it has been the primary focus ofresearch in this field (Fardouly & Vartanian, 2016). However, latelyInstagram has become more and more popular, especially among young people.Since its launch in 2010, Instagram, which was originally designed to share pictures,has become the 30th most popular site worldwide. In 2015, Instagramhad more than 300 million active users and more than 70 million pictures were uploadeddaily (Ridway & Clayton, 2016). Having such a broad scope, it seemsnecessary to investigate in which way Instagram influences people’s body imageconcerns.
Thisarticle aims to explore how the social media platform Instagram, influences bodyimage. Therefore, after main concepts such as body image are defined, previousliterature about the influence of social media in general will be reviewed.Afterwards research concentrating on Instagram will be examined. Lastly thedesign of the study will be explained briefly. How people perceive, feel and think about themselves orhow they think other people see them can be defined as body image (Collins,2013).
According to Collins (2013), a “positive body image means that a personsees himself or herself accurately, feels comfortable in his or her body, andfeels good about the way he or she looks” (p.285). People with a positive bodyimage are also capable of understanding that their self-worth is not defined bytheir appearance. On the other hand, people with a negative body imagegenerally feel awkward and ashamed of their body (Collins, 2013). This type ofmaladaptive thinking has several negative consequences.
For example, a studyrevealed that people with highly negative body images are more prone to developeating disorders (Furnham, Badmin & Sneade, 2002). Additionally these kindsof thoughts can be damaging to both physical and mental health causing anxiety,depression and low self-esteem. It isimportant to understand that body image is not determined by a person’s actualappearance, but rather by how the person feels about his or her own appearance(Collins, 2013). People’s thoughts andfeelings about their body image can vary depending on age and experience.Especially times of transformation, for example puberty or menopause/andropause, affect how people perceive their own appearance (Collins, 2013). Researchhas shown that particularly adolescent girls are highly dissatisfied with theirbody and tend to be more likely to develop eating disorders than their malecounterparts (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016). Approximately 50% of teenagegirls report that they are unhappy with their body.
This dissatisfaction canstart developing as early as the age of six (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016). Researchindicates that not just among adolescents but also in general, people areunhappier with their bodies than ever before. A study about bodydissatisfaction revealed that 56% of female participants were not satisfiedwith their overall look.
89% of those women believed that they needed to looseweight (Collins, 2013). In contrast to women, men want to gain weight andbecome more muscular. According to Collins (2013), this desire to become moremuscular is associated with the concept of masculinity and that men with moremuscles are perceived as more “manly”. Messages about how people are supposed to look areconstantly given through various media channels. Unrealistic beauty ideals arepromoted through the media by portraying glamorous, young, tall and extremelythin women.
An alarming study found out that female participants who were shownpictures of extremely thin models for only three minutes displayed higherlevels of guilt, shame, unhappiness, depression, stress and decreasedconfidence as well as increased body dissatisfaction (Stice & Heather,1994).Several theories have tried toexplain the effects of media on body image but two of them have become morepopular; the social comparison theory and the objectification theory (Holland& Tiggemann, 2016). The social comparison theory suggests that people havea natural drive to compare themselves to others in regard to attributes andabilities (Hendrickse et al., 2017). If individuals compare themselves toothers with superior abilities or attributes this is called upward socialcomparison. Downward social comparison in contrast happens when people comparetheir own attributes and abilities to more inferior others. If someone compareshim-/herself in regard of physical attractiveness this is calledappearance-related comparison.
When applied this means that the media imposesthin beauty ideals to women and encourages them to internalize and aspire theseideals. When women compare themselves to the thinner target a discrepancybetween their own body and the portrayed body becomes apparent. Thisdiscrepancy leads to negative self-evaluation and body dissatisfaction(Hendrickse et al,. 2017, Holland & Tiggemann, 2016).
The objectification theory on the other handassumes that in “Western societies, the female body is socially constructed asan object to be looked at and evaluated, primarily on the basis of appearance”(Holland & Tiggemann, 2016, p. 101). Because women and girls areextensively and repeatedly confronted with such sexual objectifications, theyare socialized to view their own bodies from an observer’s perspective. Thisway they perceive their own bodies as an object that is evaluated on the basisof appearance. This process is called “self-objectification” and causes womento constantly monitor their external appearance. Furthermore, this constantself-monitoring leads to increased body shame and anxiety as well as decreasedbody satisfaction (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016).
Incontrast to traditional media, such as television and magazines, social mediahas its unique features that may influence the effects on body image. Mostimportantly, in contrast to traditional media, which portrays models andcelebrities, social media allows individuals to feature themselves.Additionally individuals use social media to present and idealized version ofthemselves by only showing their prettiest pictures.
Lastly, the purpose ofsocial media is to interact with one’s peers and studies demonstrate thatcomparisons, especially regarding appearance may be considerably moreinfluential for body image (Fardouly & Vartanian, 2016). Research demonstrates that time spent onsocial media greatly influences body image. A study conducted among young girlsand adolescent women found out that spending more time on social media isassociated with more affirmation of the thin ideal, more surveillance of theown body as well as increased appearance comparisons and decreased weightsatisfaction (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016). An experimental study designed totest the impact of pre-selected pictures, in an artificial platform resemblingsocial media sites, on body image concerns was conducted among female and maleundergraduate students. The results showed that when participants were exposedto pictures of good-looking same-sex strangers they reported a more negativebody image a decreased mood compared to participants, which were shown picturesof not good-looking same-sex strangers.
Results were the same for male andfemale participants (Fardouly & Vartanian, 2016). Researchfocusing only on Facebook has found similar results. A study conducted among femalepsychology students in Australia revealed that the frequency of Facebook usagewas positively correlated to both body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness(Fardouly & Vartanian, 2015). The same study showed that appearancecomparison in general worked as a mediating variable between Facebook and bodyimage concerns. The authors propose that the reason why women who use Facebookmore often feel more dissatisfied with their body image is because they comparethemselves to others more often. Results showed that close friends andcelebrities were more often object of comparison in contrast to familymembers.
These findings are consistentwith previous literature, which suggests that people most frequently comparethemselves to peers or famous individuals (Fardouly & Vartanian, 2015).Even though experimental studies are relatively rare in this field, Fardouly etal. (2015) conducted one to measure the effects of Facebook on young women’sbody image and mood. Participants, who were randomly assigned into threegroups, were asked to spend 10 minutes browsing either their own Facebookaccount, a fashion magazine website or a control website which was appearance-neutral.All participants complete a body-dissatisfaction and mood questionnaire beforeand after the media exposure phase. Additionally a state questionnaireregarding appearance-discrepancy was conducted after the exposure. Lastly atrait questionnaire measuring appearance comparison tendency was given to theparticipants one week after the experiment.
As Table1 illustrates, resultsshowed that out of all three conditions, negative mood was highest amongparticipants who spent 10 minutes on Table 1 Mean (SD) ratings for post-exposure measures by condition. Facebook Magazine Control Negative Mood 31.24 (18.
57) 27.48 (14.37) 20.38 (12.28) Body Dissatisfaction 45.53 (16.93) 50.
05 (19.84) 45.04 (21.58) Weight and Shape Discrepancy 8.58 (7.53) 10.97 (11.78) 6.
16 (7.43) Facebook. Body dissatisfactionand weight and shape discrepancy were highest among participants who were askedto browse a fashion magazine website. Comparison tendency did not have aneffect.
The authors suggest that the reason why Facebook causes the highestdecrease in mood is because it provides a platform on which individuals cancompare themselves on multiple dimensions. Comparison is not only limited toappearance but also includes social status and life experiences. Women may beassuming that others are happier and living a better life, which would lead toa decrease in their mood (Fardouly et al.
, 2015). Whenlooking at research concentrating on Instagram and body image similar patternscan be seen. Hendrickse et al, (2017) found out that appearance-relatedcomparisons on Instagram are positively related to an increased drive towardsthinness and greater body dissatisfaction among women. Furthermore womenengaging in comparisons regarding appearance are also more likely to have bodyimage concerns (Hendrickse et al, 2017). They also revealed that therelationship status of the individual played a role in appearance-relatedcomparisons. Single women were more likely to engage in appearance-relatedcomparison than married women.
Hendrickse et al, (2017) also looked at ethnicdifferences and found out that African Americans reported lessappearance-related comparisons as well as less drive for thinness. According tothe authors this showed that greater appearance-related comparison is relatedto higher body dissatisfaction and a greater drive for thinness. Anotherstudy experimentally investigated the relationship between attractive celebrityand peer images on Instagram and women’s mood and body image (Brown &Tiggemann, 2016). 136 female undergraduate students were randomly assigned intothree conditions. In each of the conditions participants were shown 15pictures, either of attractive celebrities, attractive, unknown peers or traveldestinations. Afterwards participants were given a questionnaire consisting ofquestions about Instagram usage, negative mood and body dissatisfaction,state-appearance comparison and celebrity worship. The result showed thatnegative mood and body dissatisfaction was higher in participants who wereshown the celebrity pictures or the peer pictures compared to the traveldestination pictures (Table 2). Table 2 Means (SD) for negative mood, body dissatisfaction, and state appearance comparisons by image type.
Image type Celebrity Peer Travel Negative mood 28.11 (0.96) 29.18 (0.96) 24.80 (0.
96) Body dissatisfaction 45.76 (1.62) 45.94 (1.62) 41.04 (1.62) State appearance comparison 3.
88 (1.79) 4.09 (1.
72) 1.89 (1.84) No significant differencebetween celebrity and peer images was found in relation to body dissatisfactionand negative mood. Results also showed that participants who were shown imagesof celebrities or peers engaged more in appearance comparison than participantswho were shown travel destination images. State appearance comparison wassignificantly correlated to negative mood and body dissatisfaction. Additionally,celebrity worship served as a moderator between image and body dissatisfaction.As Figure 1 illustrates body dissatisfaction was especially high for thoseparticipants who were shown celebrity pictures and scored high on celebrityworship.
These resultsindicate that the exposure to attractive, thin celebrities does have animmediate negative effect on women’s body image and mood. The same negativeeffects can be seen when women are exposed to attractive and thin peers (Brown& Tiggemann, 2016).A different studyinvestigating the relationship between Instagram usage and body image selectedself-schema and self-discrepancy as mediating variables (Ahadzadeh, Sharif& Ong, 2017). In contrast to most ofthe other studies, this study was conducted among males and females, aged18-26. All participants filled out an online survey that included questionsabout Instagram usage, self-schema, self- discrepancy, body satisfaction andself-esteem.
Before introducing the methods used, the authors define the mainconcepts used in their study. A self-schema is a cognitive structure a personpossesses about him-/herself. Generalizations about the self are derived frompast experiences and used to organize and guide behavior. Self-schemas canoccur in multiple domains, including appearance. If there are differencesbetween actual self and the ideal self (e.g.
thin, attractive),self-discrepancy occurs. Self-esteemincludes the individual’s cognitions about their abilities and competences. Results of thestudy indicated that Instagram usage did have a negative effect on body imageand that self-schema and self-discrepancy mediated this negative effect. Furthermore,the results showed that self-esteem served as a moderator between Instagramusage and self-schema and Instagram usage and body satisfaction. Figure 2illustrates that as Instagram usage increased, so did body dissatisfaction forpeople with low self-esteem.
Participants who used Instagram more frequentlyand had low self-esteem showed the highest body dissatisfaction. People withhigh self-esteem on the other hand were also high in body satisfaction anddemonstrated relatively less changes as Instagram usage increased. So asself-esteem increased body image dissatisfaction related to Instagram usagedecreased. These results prove that self-esteem is a mediator between Instagramusage and body image satisfaction (Ahadzadeh, Sharif & Ong, 2017).
Eventhough this study was conducted among men and women, no analysis were made toportray differences between both genders in regard to Instagram related bodyimage satisfaction. Slater, Varsani andDiedrichs (2017) looked at the relationship between Instagram and body imagefrom a different perspective and revealed that self-compassion quotes posted onInstagram can lead to greater body satisfaction among young females. According to the authors there are 60,000images on Instagram that were posted with the hashtag #selfcompassion and over8 million with #selflove (June, 2017). These kinds of posts generally consistof a neutral background with no visible person and contain quotes such as “Cut yourself some slack. You’re doingbetter than you think” or “Be gentlewith yourself”. This experimental study randomly assigned young, femaleparticipants in four categories.
One group was shown Instagram posts consistingof self-compassion posts, another was shown fitspiration posts (posts thatencourage women to be fitter), a third group was shown posts that combinedself-compassion and fitspiration and lastly a neutral control group. Resultsportrayed that women who were exposed to the self-compassion posts only showedgreater body satisfaction, body appreciation, self-compassion and less negativemood. Women who were shown only fitspiration posts showed significantly lessself-compassion, body appreciation and elevated negative mood. When comparingthe participants who were shown only fitspiration post to the participants whowere shown both fitspiration and self-compassion, it came out thatself-compassion posts lessened the negative effects of fitspiration posts.Compared to the only fitspiration group, women exposed to both fitspiration andself-compassion showed higher body satisfaction, body appreciation,self-compassion and decreased negative mood. These results demonstrate thatself-compassion posts lead to higher body image dissatisfaction and can softenthe negative effects of fitspiration posts on body image and mood (Slater,Varsani and Diedrichs, 2017).
Reviewing the literature it can be said thatthere is a relationship between social media and body image satisfaction.Studies about both social media in general and Facebook have shown thatincreased activity on social media platform leads to lower body satisfaction. Research focusing on Instagram has found thatwhen people compare themselves to celebrities or peers on Instagram, bodysatisfaction decreases. Posts that don’t include people, but onlyself-compassion quotes on the other hand increase body image satisfaction.
However,there is an important gap in research regarding differences among male andfemale Instagram users. No study clearly analysis whether body imagedissatisfaction caused by Instagram usage is the same for male users. Therefore this study hypothesizes that (1)increased Instagram activity leads to decreased body image satisfaction forboth genders and that (2) body image dissatisfaction, caused by Instagram usageis higher among females than males. Method: Thisstudy will be questioning participants about their Instagram usage and bodyimage satisfaction in an online survey. For the aim of the study it isimportant that the sample does not only consist of females, but also maleparticipants.
Age of participants should be between 18 and 30, hence youngerpeople are more active on social media. Instagramusage will be measured by asking participants how much time (in minutes) perday they approximately spent on Instagram.BodyImage will be assessed by the Body Cathexis Scale (BCS) (Secord, Jourard,1953), which measures how participants feel about their bodies. The scaleconsists of 40 items, which can be answered on a scale from “I don’t like atall” to “I really like”.
Questionsregarding demographic information will be given at the end of thequestionnaire.