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      Social media is not real: The effect of ‘Instagram vs reality’ images on women’s social comparison and body image

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      New Media & Society
      SAGE Publications

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          Abstract

          One recent trend on Instagram consists of posting ‘Instagram vs reality’ images containing side-by-side photographs of the same woman, one an idealized depiction and the other a more natural depiction. This study aimed to experimentally investigate the effect of such images on body image. Participants were 305 women aged 18–30 years who were randomly assigned to view one of three sets of Instagram images: ‘Instagram vs reality’ images, the ‘ideal’ side alone or the ‘real’ side alone. As predicted, viewing the ‘Instagram vs reality’ and real images resulted in decreased body dissatisfaction relative to the ideal images. Furthermore, the detrimental effects of appearance comparison were much less marked for the ‘Instagram vs reality’ and real images than for the ideal images. It was concluded that ‘Instagram vs reality’ and real posts have the potential to bolster women’s body satisfaction, but more research is needed to assess their longer-term impact.

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          Most cited references31

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          The effect of experimental presentation of thin media images on body satisfaction: A meta-analytic review

          The effect of experimental manipulations of the thin beauty ideal, as portrayed in the mass media, on female body image was evaluated using meta-analysis.
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            "Exercise to be fit, not skinny": The effect of fitspiration imagery on women's body image.

            Fitspiration is an online trend designed to inspire viewers towards a healthier lifestyle by promoting exercise and healthy food. The present study aimed to experimentally investigate the impact of fitspiration images on women's body image. Participants were 130 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to view either a set of Instagram fitspiration images or a control set of travel images presented on an iPad. Results showed that acute exposure to fitspiration images led to increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction and decreased state appearance self-esteem relative to travel images. Importantly, regression analyses showed that the effects of image type were mediated by state appearance comparison. Thus it was concluded that fitspiration can have negative unintended consequences for body image. The results offer support to general sociocultural models of media effects on body image, and extend these to "new" media.
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              Body Image and Televised Images of Thinness and Attractiveness: A Controlled Laboratory Investigation

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                New Media & Society
                New Media & Society
                SAGE Publications
                1461-4448
                1461-7315
                November 16 2019
                : 146144481988872
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Flinders University, Australia
                Article
                10.1177/1461444819888720
                ae343c41-26d0-45b0-a42a-291acad2bf41
                © 2019

                http://www.sagepub.com/licence-information-for-chorus

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