The impact of appearance comparisons made through social media, traditional media, and in person in women’s everyday lives

Jasmine Fardouly*, Rebecca T. Pinkus, Lenny R. Vartanian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Appearance comparisons are an important sociocultural factor influencing women's body image. These comparisons can occur in different contexts (e.g., through magazines, social media, in person). However, little is known about the frequency and outcome of appearance comparisons made in different contexts in women's everyday lives. Using Ecological Momentary Assessment methods, female undergraduate students (n = 146) completed a brief online survey at random times every day for 5 days. They reported the frequency, direction (upward, lateral, downward), and context of appearance comparisons, and also reported their appearance satisfaction, mood, and diet and exercise thoughts and behaviors. Upward appearance comparisons were the most common across all contexts. Upward comparisons through social media were associated with more negative outcomes on all measures (except diet and exercise behavior) than comparisons made in person, and with more negative mood than comparisons in any other context. These findings highlight the importance of the appearance comparison context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
JournalBody Image
Volume20
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Diet and exercise
  • Media
  • Mood
  • Social comparison
  • Social media

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