This study is quite worrying...
By now, most of us are aware of the damage that looking at tiny, toned models all day can do to our self-esteem. Some of you might be sat there scrolling blissfully unaware, but one thing we can all agree on is that unrealistic body types on social media make us feel bad about ourselves.
While it’s been like this to a lesser extent for some time now – actresses and models have generally tended to be slimmer than your average Joe, Instagram has taken things a step further by constantly showing us seemingly normal people with unattainable bodies.
Seriously, when was the last time you saw someone IRL with a body like 90% of the Insta famous people? We literally have never. Anyway, social media is making us all a hell of a lot more anxious, depressed and essentially is ruining our lives WOO – we’re told this all the time.
But a recent study now has empirical evidence to back up the claims that our views on our bodies are changed by the bodies we see. The clever study was carried out by Jean-Luc Juckwer of the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, who visited rural villages in Nicaragua in search of people who had no media exposure to overly thin women.
Unlike us, these folks had no computers and no mobile phones so definitely hadn’t been spending their Sunday’s (everyday) stalking Insta. The study involved asking participants to create their ideal body on a computer programme that let them build their perfect body, any shape, any size.
80 people took part in the study and it’s interesting to note that it included both men and women between the ages of 16-78. After creating their perfect woman they were then shown pictures from a clothes catalogue.
Half of them saw 72 images of very thin women (UK sizes 4 and 6) and the other were shown plus size models (UK sizes 16 to 18). After viewing these women for around 15 minutes the participants were then asked to create their ideal woman again.
And yep, you guessed it. The people who had spent the last 15 minutes staring at thin women created much thinner bodies than their first ideal. While these results might seem a tad shocking, we really aren’t that surprised.
The fact that this effect was also observed on men goes to show that it’s not just a girl thing, rather something to do with the way our brains work. However, we’d like to point out that all the guys we know prefer girls with a little more junk in their trunk. Just sayin.
The worrying thing is that these peoples perceptions of beauty were altered in 15 minutes – we’ve been exposed to this pretty much our entire lives.
Obviously, we can’t say if the same people still felt that way a year later, but if that’s all it takes to temporarily alter your view then think about how much it’s effected us.
The constant bombardment of super thin girls makes you feel crap. If you feel like you’re comparing yourself to others or like your self-esteem is suffering, give yourself a break from Instagram. Stop following all the VS models and the ultra skinny celebrities, all it’s doing is brainwashing you into thinking you need to look a certain way.
The next time you see someone on social media and think, ‘wow, I wish I looked like her.’ Just remember, she probably wishes she looks like another girl she’s following, too.
Break the cycle, ban the Gram and just be happy with what you’ve got. We come in all shapes and sizes and we are ALL beautiful.