Bad influencers: Just 90 seconds of watching ‘ideal bodies’ on social media can


  • Images of ‘ideal’ bodies and faces can contribute to eating disorders in women
  • The researchers said filters allowed features to be enhanced to unrealistic levels 

Women can see their mental health negatively affected by just 90 seconds of watching social media influencers showing off their bodies, a study says.

The images of toned legs, flat stomachs, full lips and blemish-free faces has an almost instant – and detrimental – effect on viewers’ own body self-image.

It has long been known that images of ‘ideal’ bodies and faces can cause women to feel worse about themselves and contribute to psychological and eating disorders. 

But researchers sought to discover if this was also true of exposure to short-form TikTok and Instagram videos.

‘Appearance-ideal content can pressure women to look a certain way that is unrealistic or completely unattainable,’ said Dr Jasmine Fardouly, senior author of the study. 

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are among the world¿s biggest social media influencers, with 364million and 380million Instagram followers respectively and millions more on TikTok

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are among the world’s biggest social media influencers, with 364million and 380million Instagram followers respectively and millions more on TikTok

It has long been known that images of ¿ideal¿ bodies and faces can cause women to feel worse about themselves and contribute to psychological and eating disorders

It has long been known that images of ‘ideal’ bodies and faces can cause women to feel worse about themselves and contribute to psychological and eating disorders

The images of toned legs, flat stomachs, full lips and blemish-free faces has an almost instant ¿ and detrimental ¿ effect on viewers¿ own body self-image

The images of toned legs, flat stomachs, full lips and blemish-free faces has an almost instant – and detrimental – effect on viewers’ own body self-image

‘We know this starts early, with girls as young as six reporting unhappiness with their bodies, desires to look thinner, and even dieting to lose weight.’ 

Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner are among the world’s biggest social media influencers, with 364million and 380million Instagram followers respectively and millions more on TikTok.

The team at the University of New South Wales in Australia showed 211 women aged from 17 to 28 images and videos selected from the Instagram and TikTok accounts of female social media influencers. They were then surveyed about their mood and own body image.

The team found the women compared their bodies to the women in the ‘appearance ideal’ content and invariably found themselves less attractive. Dr Fardouly added: ‘The total exposure time was only a minute and a half, and we found that was enough to have harmful impacts.’

The researchers said a further problem is that technological filters allow the social media subjects to enhance their features to unrealistic levels, leaving their audience ‘more likely to engage in negative social comparisons’.



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