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Click here to return to the Medical News Today home page. Recently, the effects of social media use on our mental health and well-being have been the topic of much debate. According to the social displacement theory , for example, the more time we spend socializing online, the less time we're likely to spend socializing in the offline world. However, recent studies have dispelled this myth, with researchers arguing that social media is "not bad in the way people think it is.

Other studies have drawn links between social media use and loneliness, suggesting that going on a social media "detox" lowers feelings of depression and loneliness. Does social media have any effect on body confidence and how we perceive our own appearance, however?

Mills and Hogue published their findings in the journal Body Image. Mills and Hogue divided female undergraduate students aged 18—27 into two groups. Those in the first group logged into Facebook and Instagram for 5 minutes or more and were asked to find one peer of roughly the same age whom they "explicitly considered more attractive" than themselves.

What's the Connection?

Then, the researchers asked all of the participants to comment on the photos of their peers. In the control group, the women logged into Facebook or Instagram for at least 5 minutes and left a comment on a post of a family member whom they did not consider more attractive.

Before and after these tasks, the participants filled in a questionnaire that asked about how much dissatisfaction they felt with their appearance, using a scale ranging from "none" to "very much. The researchers scored the responses "to the nearest millimeter," which created a point scale. Their results revealed that after interacting with attractive peers, the women's perceptions of their own appearance changed, whereas interacting with family members did not have any bearing on their body image.

Mills comments on the findings, saying, "The results showed that these young adult women felt more dissatisfied with their bodies. Even if they felt bad about themselves before they came into the study, on average, they still felt worse after completing the task.

Men Today…The Real Issue

There are people who may be triggered by social media and who are especially vulnerable," concludes Mills. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional. Privacy Terms Ad policy Careers. Visit www.

Dealing with Body Image Issues + Self Esteem Tips

All rights reserved. This particular aspect of their body may be nonexistent, or only barely visible to others. People with BDD deal with symptoms that extend beyond unease when they look in a mirror; they have an ever-present obsession with their looks. BDD suffers have a persistent preoccupation with a certain part of the body common areas include hair, skin, nose, chest, or stomach.


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They can often dwell on a particular body part for hours or even days on end. Their believed defect may only be a slight imperfection, or completely invisible, and generally goes unnoticed by others. Sufferers experience social anxiety and tend to avoid social situations for fear that others may see their flaw and then ridicule and reject them. Sufferers perform compulsive or repetitive behaviors, such as excessive grooming, attempting to camouflage the flaw with cosmetics, and seeking surgery and other physical alterations. These behaviors provide only temporary relief at best.

Researchers have discovered that BDD sufferers have a number of visual processing difficulties. Notably, because they habitually focus on one specific aspect of their appearance, their attention and visual processing can become very fixed and narrow; they have difficulty seeing the whole image of themselves.

They also have difficulty recognizing their own emotions when they look in the mirror. Mirror exposure therapy involves asking patients to observe themselves repeatedly and for prolonged periods in a full-length mirror. Mirror exposure therapy has been used effectively to treat BDD in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy. Mirrors have also been used to treat the body image distortions of those suffering from eating disorders.

Even for those who without debilitating body image issues, looking in the mirror can create a twinge of discomfort or criticism. Research finds that exposure to a mirror can reduce even these common self-critical evaluations. Individuals with prior mirror exposure showed a greater balance between positive and negative self-statements and fewer self-critical statements than participants without previous mirror exposure. That is, as people gained more experience looking in the mirror, they developed a more balanced view of themselves.

So, although it may seem counterintuitive, research suggests that one of the best ways to deal with self-critical body image issues is to take a long look in the mirror. Beilharz, F. A Systematic review of visual processing and associated treatments in body dysmorphic disorder. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica , Mirror exposure for the treatment of body image disturbance. International Journal of Eating Disorders, — Hofmann, S. Dis-entangling self-description and self-evaluation under conditions of high self-focused attention: Effects of mirror exposure.

Personality and Individual Differences , Vinai, et al. What happens in the course of body exposure? Emotional, cognitive, and physiological reactions to mirror confrontation in eating disorders. Well, T. The Benefits of Mirror Meditation. I found this helpful.

I get a little frustrated with articles on body image that describe two polls, one being Body Dysmorphic Disorder and the other being that normal, occasional bad hair day sort of thing. My issues are more than that, but not BDD. At least I don't think they are.

What a new study reveals about selfies and teenage body image

I have a slight tendency to fixate on specifics; it was crow's feet for a few years, then my slackening chin, and then my neck now that I'm I think this is a fairly typical response to markers of aging. It's not debilitating. On the other hand, I've been critical of my appearance for as long as I can remember. This is typically an overall assessment, usually more focused on my face rather than body, although sometimes I pick at everything. With trepidation and high anxiety, I signed up to my local gym when I was On my first session, I looked around at brawny, tattooed Bristolians bicep curling my body weight.

No one warned me the bar was forged from Valyrian steel. Anyway, I persisted and eventually gained muscle. Ideally, social media should be the antithesis of the illusions portrayed in the mainstream. Just normal people uploading normal images of their normal lives. Well, not quite. Instagram is no different. Inevitably, I end up comparing myself to the women I see online, and I feel even worse. Though plenty use Instagram to challenge conventional standards, beauty standards have infiltrated social media.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian who has million followers regularly receive millions of likes, but they present heavily-doctored snippets of meticulously pruned unrealities.


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  • How does social media use affect our body image??

Sometimes, they get caught. These airbrushed images mix with photos of friends and family, with no distinction other than a blue tick. This camouflage erodes the boundaries between the glitz and glamour and us muggles. This desire to conform to beauty standards is tantalising and has a drip-down effect into everything we do. Uploading images to social media conforming with beauty standards is a form of self-objectification.

This occurs when objectification is internalised and the person views their body as an object to be evaluated.

This is far from a superficial issue, either. In men, it has been identified as a precursor to steroid use. Most of us will be guilty of doctoring our appearance on Instagram, whether in the form of filters, choosing an image from a selection of many, or using set angles and lighting that is flattering on the body. Additionally, each and every like becomes a signal of approval, and for some, Instagram becomes an avenue to temporarily boost feelings of negative body image. In presenting ourselves as objects, virtual feedback provides validation and a fragile sense of worth.

Fitspiration is a trend often falling into this category. Its aim is to provide motivation for exercise and encourage a healthy lifestyle, but most posts emphasise aesthetics over health. Eighteen percent of the same group were at risk of developing an eating disorder. On top of mainstream media, social media — in particular Instagram — leads to information overload and incessant streams of people with seemingly perfect bodies.

It creates a vicious cycle of comparison and negative self-perception.

Eating Disorders Statistics | Body Image Therapy Center in MD & DC

But such is the nature of comparison, no physical change will ever bring lasting contentment. We are flesh and bone, a constant flux of regenerating cells. We get pimples, shadows under our eyes, hair in random places. Beauty standards defy human nature because they are designed to be unattainable. Has Instagram influenced your body image? Let me know your experience in the comments section below. I'm devoted to understanding the human psyche and spiritual growth. Undergoing a life-long process of minding my ego.

I love reading about this topic, because i have fallen into this trap many times before.