Is Body Positivity The Treatment For Women’s Body Issues? A New Study Believes It Is

Is Body Positivity The Treatment For Women’s Body Issues? A New Study Believes It Is

According to recent study from UNSW Sydney, taking a short vacation from the constant stream of messages on social media that reinforce societal beauty standards may make a difference in one’s level of happiness with their own bodies.

Following social media sites that promote “body positivity,” which is the celebration of all body sizes, shapes, colors, and abilities, may help young women improve their body image in their day-to-day lives, according to a research that was just published in the journal Body Image.

Investigators from the School of Psychology at UNSW Science conducted an experiment to see whether or not just reading a few body positive social media postings each day may have a beneficial influence on feelings of appreciation and contentment with one’s physique. To put it another way, would it be possible for participants to feel more confident about their bodies if they were exposed to a variety of messages that challenged unattainable standards of beauty and promoted body acceptance at each and every shape and size?

What did the study find?

They discovered that women between the ages of 18 and 25 who saw body positive postings on a daily basis for a period of 14 days showed a reduction in body dissatisfaction and a decreased inclination to compare their appearance with that of others. Their perceptions of their bodies continued to improve even four weeks after seeing the information in question.

According to Dr. Jasmine Fardouly, the study’s primary author, the findings demonstrate how promoting body acceptance on social media may assist in reducing negative comparisons and posing a challenge to unhealthy beauty standards.

A relatively brief intervention carried out over a short period of time during which young women watched a modest number of body positive postings among the material that they routinely viewed on social media was able to enhance body image and decrease the amount of body comparisons they made.

Due to the enormous amount of time that is spent on social media alone — the 159 people who took part in the research reported spending an average of two hours on Facebook on a normal day — even a little adjustment in how it is used may have a significant effect.
The way people feel about their bodies is a significant problem all across the world. Therefore, we need to make an effort to enhance people’s body image, particularly via the use of social media, which is where a lot of people spend their time and where they are exposed to societal beauty norms beginning at a young age.

Dissatisfaction with one’s appearance is particularly common among young women and may have a detrimental effect on mental health.
The majority of young women all around the globe are active on social media. At least in part, the high percentages of body dissatisfaction that are seen today may be attributed to the content that can be found on social media platforms that portrays unattainable beauty ideals.

However, from an early age forward, children all across society are exposed to many beauty standards. Dr. Fardouly suggests that you consider the paradigm of a Disney princess, which is one that many young girls want to be like. They, with very few exceptions, portray an unrealistic representation of physical proportions and attractiveness, not to mention other gender and cultural prejudices.

The researchers then propose that watching curated, manipulated, or improved photographs of young women on social media that reflect restricted conventional beauty criteria might raise young women’s unhappiness with their bodies. Users evaluate their own attractiveness relative to the ladies seen in those photographs and conclude that they are less beautiful overall.

The body positive movement seeks to question impossible beauty standards rather than glorifying unachievable ideals of beauty such as flawless skin, shining hair, and small waists. The material fosters an acceptance of all different types of bodies and places more of an emphasis on one’s overall health and function than on their outward looks.

Body positivity is not the only solution

It is interesting to note that a different group of people who took part in the research and saw postings that were appearance-neutral, or material that was unrelated to a person’s appearances, also reported a reduction in their level of body dissatisfaction. 

Other “strenuous procedures,” like a social media detox, may also improve our health and well-being and have the potential to be helpful. However, it is quite improbable that people would adopt them en masse for extended periods of time, especially teens.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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