The story about the impact of all those ‘pretty friends’ in social media on self-esteem offers one good explanation for self-presentation fatigue. Researchers in the UK, Iowa and Ohio used Facebook to look at the impact on body image of selfies in social media vs. photos of celebrities and other beautiful people in magazines. They found that comparing oneself to Facebook friends “can make a young woman feel worse about her own body than comparing herself to the most beautiful celebrities and models in fashion magazines,” the Today Show reported. In its coverage, the BBC reported that “the research, presented at a conference in Seattle, found no link with eating disorders. But it did find a link between time spent on social networks and negative comparisons about body image.” In an earlier (2013) study, researcher April Smith at Miami University of Ohio did find a link between “certain Facebook habits” and “symptoms of bulimia and over-eating,” according to Today.
When Today asked her why she thought friends’ photos had more impact than those of celebrities and models, Smith suggested, quite logically, that friends are more “real” to us than movie stars. They’re our peers, after all, right? So this must be an accurate representation of what they and their day-to-day lives look like, right? Nope. To put it in old-fashioned terms, people sometimes put their best foot forward in social media, posting their favorite and even using “photo-editing tools to shave off pounds or build cheekbones,” Today points out. Read more