The pressure on Instagram is growing

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Body image experts at Flinders University are urging all Instagram users to apply a more conscious ‘filter’ to monitor their health and fitness posts.

Researchers say people who follow in the footsteps of famous social media influencers and upload regular #fitspo and #cleaneating posts to Instagram can put girls and women under increased pressure, as the posts can worsen bad feelings about yourself and your body.

A new study in the journal Body Image found that people who regularly post on Instagram about fitness and healthy eating have less negative feelings about their bodies than about their followers, although they may begin to change images maintain appearances.

Experts urge all Instagram users to be aware of the risks of focusing on a post, and urge viewers to be more skeptical of whether images are digitally manipulated.

“Women who post images on Instagram should be aware of the potential negative impact they can have on others and should be encouraged to post a variety of images that are more realistic to general population“, says senior author Associate Professor Ivanka Pritchard from Flinders University’s SHAPE Research Centre.

“They should also be encouraged to think about their own motivations and whether it makes them feel better or worse, especially since previous research has shown that posting is linked to disordered eating and compulsive exercise.”

Answers from 269 young women (ages 18 to 30) in an online survey found that regular Instagram posts that featured only thin, athletic body images seemed to create more pressure on the viewers and followers of those Instagram posts.

Viewers may feel more prone to negative self-images and more likely to consider weight control measures such as unhealthy eating, overeating, or compulsive exercise.

Lead author and Ph.D. candidate Phoebe Wu of the Future Care Institute at Flinders, says general public must be aware of the effort required to achieve the “fit body” typically represented in fitspiration images.

“Women may also be unaware of whether images are digitally manipulated or the number of photos taken to create an idealized image posted on Instagram, which may not reflect an influencer’s actual body in real life,” she says.

“We need future research to examine the effectiveness of abdication and the amount of effort required to achieve the body shown in these ideal fitness images.

“It’s important that we highlight the real effort it takes to expose women to images on a daily basis to help create a positive environment around their fitness and image perceptions online.”

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration this year updated its advertising code to limit the ways in which influencers can post about products regulated by the regulator, including acne skin care products, medicines and medical productsnutritional supplements, protein powders, vitamins and sunscreens.

“Eat clean, exercise, lose weight”: body image and health women of clean eating inspiration and images on Instagram” (2022) was published in Body image.


The influence of online influencers on male body image


Additional information:
Yu Wu et al., “Eat Clean, Exercise, Get Thin”: Body Image and Health Behaviors of Women Engaged in Images of Attraction and Clean Eating on Instagram, Body image (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2022.05.003

Citation: Instagram pressure grows (2022, July 5) Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-instagram-pressure.html

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