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“Recent research suggests that social networking sites (SNSs: Facebook and Instagram) are increasingly used by college-aged females as the preferred social resource over conventional media forms, for example magazines and television . Moreover, a growing literature suggests that SNSs have addictive properties . Social comparison theory postulates that individuals are more likely to engage in comparisons with similar (peer groups) rather than dissimilar (others) personal attributes . Accordingly, the relationship between AC and BID should be enhanced in SNSs where portrayed females are perceived as real, age- and status-related, and thus more personally identified with in contrast to professional models in conventional media .
Studies of self-presentation within SNSs have consistently found that users strategically manipulate their profiles in accordance with societal ideals of attractiveness [23–25]. Women viewing images of professional models represented in conventional forms of media remain aware that these have been digitally enhanced  thereby reducing the likelihood of self- comparison and propensity for BID . In contrast, SNS images of ‘real’ women are assumed to be digitally unaltered and, hence accepted as more accurate and personally relevant .
Facebook is a popular SNS , with more than a billion active users . Fifty eight percent of users are women  with users spending around an average of 16 h accessing Facebook per month . In Australia there are currently 11,489,580 Facebook users, with the largest age group being 25–34 year-olds, followed by 18–24 year-olds .
Social media, unlike conventional media, also provides a virtual forum for fat talk, conversational threads about one’s own and other’s eating and exercise habits, weight concerns and ideal body shapes , thus serving to intensify the influence of AC on BID . Typical Facebook profiles contain strategically selected thin photos of peers coupled with complimentary comments on appearance; for example “you look so skinny and beautiful” . One study  found that 70.2 % of profiles of American undergraduate students referenced exercise and 12.3 %, eating habits with comments like “just did my morning work-out, feeling great!”. Of 600 Facebook users aged 16 to 40, 50 % reported that Facebook content made them more body-conscious; 31 % feeling “sad” as a result of comparing photos of themselves to those of Facebook friends, and 44 % reported desiring the same body or weight as Facebook friends .”
Article in the Journal of Eating Disorders analyzing the effect of social media, like Facebook and Instagram, have on body image satisfaction.
- Rachel Cohen and Alex Blaszczynski
- Comparative effects of Facebook and conventional media on body image dissatisfaction
- Journal of Eating Disorders
- July 2, 2015
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