There is a growing body of evidence investigating the impact of social media on our mental health. As Dietitians, we need to be aware of this research and how it might be affecting our patients and clients’ health. A recent interesting study on selfies is a great place to start if you’re new to this knowledge area.
In a study from Aussie researchers published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders in 2017, a correlation between editing photos/concern about selfies with body dissatisfaction was found. This was noted to be the case for both males and females.
No surprises there. Whether it is posting selfies, editing photos or responding to others’ comments on our selfies, all seem related to increased body dissatisfaction.
Self-compassion and body dissatisfaction
However, the study was also keen to investigate if self-compassion helped combat body dissatisfaction. (If you’re new to self-compassion I would highly recommend checking out Dr Kristin Neff’s website here).
In this particular study, researchers found self-compassion didn’t provide a protective effect against body dissatisfaction when posting and manipulating selfies. This may be related to the study design but another hypothesis might be it’s just “too big of a job for self-compassion to pull off”. Perhaps those community members who are able to develop a self-compassionate relationship with themselves will limit posting selfies for validation to start with. Once they do post a selfie, they might then be more likely to feel body dissatisfaction.
As they say, more research is required but this study is an easy read and a great place to start if you’re interested in this topic.
Read the journal article here:
Lonergan, A. R., Bussey, K., Mond, J., Brown, O., Giffiths, S., Muray, S. B., & Mitchison, D. (2019). Me, my selfie, and I: the relationship between editing and posting selfies and body dissatisfaction in men and women. Body Image, 28, 39-43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.12.00