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Young Women Compare Themselves on Social Media

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.”


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Al Amin Azad

Cleaning service tips, fashion and beauty, Physical Exercise, Senior fitness, programming code related blogger. Blogging is my passion and profession. I make content for guest blog, site review etc. Cleaning service Tips Blog is my own blog.

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  1. Profile photo of Rebecca
    March 25, 2016

    I’m guilty of this. I always compare myself to the photos I see on social media. Even more if they’re my friend in real life. Being bombarded with beautiful women posing in luxurious places on Instragram really gets to you after a while. I find limiting the amount of time I spend on social media (mainly Instragram and Facebook) helps, but I still do compare myself when I do browse those sites.

  2. Profile photo of ioana
    March 25, 2016

    I think us women will never be 100% happy with our looks that is why we compare ourselves with friends, relatives or other acquaintances we see as good looking.
    I don’t think that posting less images is the answer because you will always find other sources for comparison.
    Facebook’s purpose is to help people connect and share images.

  3. Profile photo of Ruby
    March 18, 2016

    I agree with some of the comments here, we are more likely to compare ourselves to our peers, especially when we see their pictures everyday on social media. But advising users to post pictures less is also quite illogical. The root of the problem is lack of self confidence. Pictures of models with flawless skin in magazines tell young girls that they need to always look like that, even though most of it is due to make-up and photo manipulation. This ideal image of beauty will make themselves less confident and thus compare themselves to their friends that are closer to that ideal.

  4. Profile photo of Cynthia Zirkwitz
    March 14, 2016

    This is not a shocking revelation, given the way “selfies” and photoshopping have exploded into being more common than donuts. I am sad that young women are perpetuating all the most limiting insecurities that women have been fighting against since the early sixties. I am glad to see that there are a number of older women who are happy to be seen smiling and healthy, albeit slightly obese and wrinkly… I think maybe we got our priorities right somewhere along the way. I am also rather interested to see that older women(over 50, say) are very active on Facebook but quite often have a picture of a grandchild or a potted plant in their profile spot… or the ugly no-image symbol. I think that that suggests that a number of older women are also not thrilled about being compared on Facebook.

  5. Profile photo of Hannah
    December 30, 2015

    I think Facebook has the greatest impact because it’s pictures of people we know. Magazines and the internet are full of people who are far removed from our lives and so we think that to some extent this doesn’t actually exist in real life. But when you see your peers looking really good online it’s so easy to compare yourself to them because you know that this is reality and that in your opinion you can’t match up to it. Like the previous comment I agree that Facebook is only used largely now for photos and its not going to change, since to a degree I think we enjoy comparing ourselves to others. Looking at another person’s profile whose life appears to be more interesting than your own is addictive and you’re sucked into wishing you were them and feeling negatively towards yourself.

  6. Profile photo of Vet
    December 25, 2015

    The researchers’ recommendation for young women to post fewer images of themselves on Facebok and follow people on Facebook who post photos less frequently is absurd. FB’s ‘photos’ feature, I think, is what draw young people to FB. Thus, I don’t understand where the recommendation is coming from. Unless there’s a new hot social media site for young people to use, FB is here to stay. Thus, to me it’s not limiting photo uploads to FB as the solution to the problem of young women comparing themselves with others. Both recommendation I think are just band-aid solutions. What is must be done instead is to teach young women to be more accepting of who they are. That way, regardless of what they see posted on FB won’t affect how they seem themselves.

  7. Profile photo of Alex
    December 23, 2015

    Gosh, this is so true and I hate it! We have to stick together, ladies. I know I have been guilty myself of seeing another woman’s hot bod on Facebook and then looking sadly down at my own thighs… but this should not be! When we objectify ourselves, it only opens the door for “them” to do it. That’s from the magazine companies to the guys at your local frat party (not hating on all frats, just the stereotypical frat guy). I just want to see the women in my life, the ones who I know to suffer in particular from insecurity due to this problem, liberate themselves from that insecurity. True of myself as well… I don’t want to spend just want to live my life. Let’s all just stop comparing ourselves and just live! *Steps off soap box* Thank you!


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