New research suggests young women commonly compare their appearance to images found in magazines and on Facebook.
Experts believe this is evidence that although the media is often vilified for objectifying women, women further diminish themselves by constantly comparing their bodies to others’.
The new Australian study finds that regardless of how much time young women devote to viewing television, music videos and using the Internet, they will compare their appearances more frequently to photos in magazines and on Facebook.
Findings have been published in a new paper found in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly.
“Our research shows that spending more time reading magazines and on Facebook is associated with greater self-objectification among young women and these relationships are influenced by women’s tendency to compare their appearance to others, particularly to peers on Facebook,” the researchers commented.
Surveying 150 female college students and staff ages 17-25, researcher and doctoral candidate Jasmine Fardouly of the University of New South Wales also found the following connections between type of media, comparing the way women look, and self-objectification:
- Magazines, though significantly related to self-objectification, are infrequently read by women;
- On average, the women spent about two hours a day on Facebook, accounting for 40 percent of daily internet use, and check the site every few hours;
- Facebook users compare their appearance most often to their own images, then to those of their peers, and rarely to images of family members and celebrities.
The behavior can be detrimental and is discouraged.
Experts explain the finding by surmising that unlike TV and music videos, on Facebook, users can compare pictures of themselves with their peers or past images of themselves.
The researchers also note that self-comparisons may lead to greater self-objectification for women as they look at themselves literally as an observer.
They wrote, “Furthermore, self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts, also contributing to self-objectification.”
To help young women stop comparing themselves and promote wellness, the researchers recommend that young women post fewer images of themselves on Facebook and follow people on Facebook who post photos less frequently.
The researchers continued, “This was one of the first studies which shows that appearance comparisons partially account for the relationship between media usage and self-objectification.
Young women report spending long periods of time on Facebook and this research highlights some of the potential negative influences that Facebook may have on how young women view their body.”
Source: Sage Publications/EurekAlert!