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Sabrina Philipp (Psychologist)
According to a recent study, following people on social media who promote body positivity and diversity outside of conventional beauty standards can actually help boost your self-image. How to choose influencers more carefully…
If you’re one of those body positivity skeptics, know that these images, which show different and realistic bodies (bigger, smaller, taller…) but happy, have more than a simple marketing effort, but genuine interest. Anyway, that’s the conclusion of an Australian university that studies the effects of body positivity on young women on a daily basis.
Seeing more diversity plays a role in self-acceptance
Researchers from the New South Wales School of Psychology had 159 young women aged 18 to 25 view social media pages that featured different sizes, shapes, colors and body abilities every day for 14 days. Their goal was to see if examining several body-positive social media posts could have a positive effect on body satisfaction and body esteem. According to their observations, at the end of the 2-week experiments, the young female participants actually showed a decrease in body dissatisfaction and reduced their tendency to compare their appearance with that of others. Improvement in self-image lasting up to four weeks after viewing the content.
An important reality in the age of social networks
The lead author of the study, Dr. For Jasmine Fardoul, the topic is relatively important at a time when we are full of so-called perfect models on social networks.
“Body image is a huge problem globally. So we should try to improve people’s body image, especially through social media where many people spend their time and are inundated with societal beauty laws from an early age.“.
The messages they can see on social networks also harm their mental health. “Being unhappy with your body is a risk factor for many mental health disorders.” Dr Jasmine Fardouly continues, specifically targeting anxiety disorders, eating disorders and even depression. “It puts a lot of pressure on young girls“.
Interestingly, another group of study participants who viewed neutral publications also reported improved body image. Thus, the researchers believe that the problem stems from the images of canons of beauty, because their simple removal has a positive effect. “Even viewing seemingly neutral content on social media appears to be beneficial for body image.“, says Dr. Jasmine Fardouly, who asked for action by social networks: “Platforms can incorporate more diversity into their algorithms.” he concludes.
Good for your body, good for your head!
“The main thing is to show our humanity”
Sabrina Philippe, a psychologist and member of our Doctissimo expert committee, has already exposed in her book. All Fake Me! This virtual world that fakes us (2022)
“Obviously, networks have an effect on self-esteem. We only see people who are prettier, happier than us, in all areas that always refer us to what we are not and remind us that we are never ‘enough’.” analyzes.
However, the psychologist doesn’t entirely agree that showing more diversity online will solve the self-image problem once and for all.
“Representation is not only physical. An overweight woman can be just as guilty if she demonstrates success in everything she does. It is the message rather than the physical representation that needs to evolve. The problem is that this message is bound to convey something positive on networks, while in real life it is impossible. First of all, it is necessary to show our humanity, our flaws” makes a diagnosis.