What is the first thing you do in the morning? Do you look at your phone? Do you open up Instagram? Have you ever thought about what it would be like if you didn’t? Would you look at yourself differently?
This is something that really intrigued us. We are a group of female second-year psychology students and can all relate to this. We felt like there could be a relationship between the types of pictures you see on Instagram, and the way you see your body when you look into the mirror.
In our research, we wanted to investigate the effect of being exposed to “thinspiration” pictures, meaning pictures of skinny people that do not put into focus how much they have worked for the body shape they achieved, versus seeing “fitspiration” pictures, meaning pictures of women who show that they work out for the body they have. In a previous study, it was shown that being exposed to thin-ideal images promotes higher comparison and a lower body image. But does that apply to everyone? Further research found that individual differences, such as BMI can account for the effect that Instagram has.
For our research, we wanted to take a look at what influences or mediates the effect of the pictures on your body dissatisfaction as well. First of all, it is a very common thing to compare yourself to celebrities on Instagram or other platforms. This so-called “social comparison tendency” might be one aspect that mediates the effect pictures have on your own body image. Furthermore, another important aspect is called “thin-ideal internalization”. It describes how much someone considers being skinny to be the ideal body shape.
Maybe future research will also consider addressing this topic further. There are many people out there doubting and comparing themselves, even though there’s no reason to be doing so.
Now that you have read our blog, maybe you’ll be inclined to unfollow some people. Do you really need to look at those skinny girls everyday? You are not alone in the way you feel. We all feel this way!
It’s your choice to make a difference for yourself.
FPN Research Group 16a