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Body Dissatisfaction and Social Media

New research shows that it is not just comparing ourselves to curated, edited, unrealistic images of bodies on Instagram that make us feel inadequate - but also the way we engage with posts in general. Specifically, viewing posts with objectifying comments beneath them about how people’s bodies look (rather than where the people in the photo are or what they are doing) tend to make us feel more dissatisfied with our own bodies than posts where comments are not focused on appearance. So, even though comments such as “hot!” or “you look great!” may be well-intentioned, they may actually contribute to our culture’s over emphasis on weight and appearance, and general body dissatisfaction. These results suggest that we might want to move away from such an emphasis on how people look in photos. Comments about what people are doing, where they are, and well-wishes are more positive overall than comments on appearance or weight. This is not to say that there aren’t exceptions- of course it is totally appropriate to comment on how beautiful a bride looks on her wedding day, but if we all decreased the amount we commented on how people look, we might feel better about ourselves as a whole. If you want to comment about how someone looks, maybe opt for how happy or relaxed they look, rather than how their body looks. To learn more about these new research findings, check out this study published in the academic journal Body Image this month.

By Annie Garrett, PsyD

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