Broadening the Scope of Social Media Effect Research on Body Image Concerns

Abstract

The article “Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research” by Perloff (2014) extends the study of media effects on women’s body image concerns by including social media. His article is important because of the increasing use and unique nature of social media, and it can provide an avenue for future research. The main focus of this commentary is to critically examine the arguments of Perloff (2014) and to provide suggestions on how to extend his model. We begin by emphasizing the importance of culture on body image and provide a theoretical extension based on the theoretical construct of self-construal. Next, we propose to differentiate social media use as motivated by general social media use (e.g., socializing and entertainment) from that driven by specific needs related to body image concerns (e.g., pro-eating disorder sites). In addition, we suggest differentiating mere exposure to content from the active use of social media, such as commenting and posting. Finally, we recommend advancing the research on body image beyond the thin ideal because body dissatisfaction can be related to various body parts (e.g., breast size, skin color, and eye shape), and we recommend including participants beyond adolescence, integrating multiple methods, and conducting research on interventions. The aim of this commentary is not to provide a framework for specific cultures or social contexts, but to offer suggestions that encourage researchers to broaden the scope of research on body image concerns.

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Acknowledgments

The preparation of this commentary was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2012S1A3A2033480).

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Prieler, M., Choi, J. Broadening the Scope of Social Media Effect Research on Body Image Concerns. Sex Roles 71, 378–388 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0406-4

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Keywords

  • Social media
  • Thin ideal
  • Body image
  • Culture
  • Social comparison