The perception of our body and its satisfaction also passes through the comparison with what surrounds us. On social networks, in particular, we are constantly exposed to bodies that seem flawless. We watch them, we observe them and we think this show is free; and in economic terms it is, but as far as our psyche and mood are concerned, there can be significant consequences.
A recent study appeared in the scientific journal “Body Image”, which saw the collaboration of the University of Padua and Surrey, has tried to identify the consequences that exposure to sexualized, sensual images has on the perception that women have of their own body. The survey involved 247 Italians between the ages of 19 and 32 who were exposed to sexualized images of other women on Instagram.
The results: satisfaction and the desire to “correct” one’s body
One aspect first of all emerged from this investigation: women who look at sexualized images of other women develop greater dissatisfaction with your body. This does not happen, however, if the women observed on Instagram are so beautiful, but not in sensual or provocative poses; an element, this, which indicates that the sexualization of images is decisive in inducing dissatisfaction in women who use the social network. On the other hand, the comments accompanying the images do not seem to influence the way in which the women “spectators” of the images perceive their own bodies.
Another element that emerged is the correlation between a problematic, excessive use of Instagram and the increase in dissatisfaction with one’s body; a discontent that can also lead to the hypothesis of correction of one’s own body. “A compulsive and uncontrolled use of Instagram can accentuate negative feelings about the body, thus prompting our participants to think about undertaking cosmetic surgery. I think it is useful to open a discussion about possible specific laws that can favor a greater real beauty with a new one policy from body neutrality following in the footsteps of some countries, for example Norway and the United Kingdom »explains Natale Canale from the Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology of the University of Padua.
Agrees another author of the study, Francesca Guizzo of the University of Surrey, which also notes the need «for an active rather than passive use of the platform. In fact, raising awareness and educating women to question what they see on social media and how it makes them feel can help to buffer some negative effects ».
How to start doing this in practice? “For example, no longer following Instagram pages that encourage a comparison with unrealistic and sexualized beauty standards can help women take control of the effects social media has on their body image and well-being,” concludes Guizzo.
In gallery find a summary of how the study was conducted.