My Topics

4 February 2019

Edited Instagram Pictures Jeopardize Adolescent Girls’ Body Image

Instagram is the most popular photo sharing application, but it does raise concerns regarding the potentially negative influence that edited photos may have. A study in Media Psychology investigates what effect ‘perfect’ selfies have on how satisfied adolescent girls are with themselves.

Take aways

  • Adolescent girls who see edited selfies on social media are less satisfied with their bodies. This is especially the case for girls who have the tendency to compare themselves with others.
  • A possible way to prevent this negative effect is to add a warning that pops up when opening social media like Instagram which reminds users that images are often retouched and edited.

Study information

  • Who?

    144 Dutch adolescent girls (mean age: 16, age range: 14-18), varying in level of education (low, medium, high level of secondary education)

  • Where?

    The Netherlands

  • How?

    Adolescent girls saw either 10 original Instagram selfies or 10 edited photos. After carefully looking at the photos, they answered questions regarding their body image and their tendency to make social comparisons.

Facts and findings

  • Girls were generally unaware that Instagram photos might be edited.
  • Girls who saw the edited photos had a lower body image compared to girls who saw the original photos.
  • However, this negative effect depended on the girls’ tendency to compare themselves with others: seeing edited photos on Instagram particularly affected the body image of girls who had a strong tendency to compare themselves with others.