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Young women objectify and compare themselves more often in time spent browsing Facebook and magazines than other forms of media

April 17, 2015

Los Angeles, CA - Though it is widely believed that the media objectifies women, women further diminish themselves by constantly comparing their bodies to others’. Regardless of how much time young women devote to viewing television, music videos and using the internet, they will compare their appearances more frequently to photos in magazines and on Facebook, finds a new paper published today in Psychology of Women Quarterly.

"Our research shows that spending more time reading magazines and on Facebook is associated with greater self-objectification among young women and these relationships are influenced by women's tendency to compare their appearance to others, particularly to peers on Facebook,” the researchers commented.

Surveying 150 female college students and staff ages 17-25, researchers Jasmine Fardouly et al., also found the following connections between type of media, comparing the way women look, and self-objectification:

Magazines, though significantly related to self-objectification, are infrequently read by women.

On average, the women spent about two hours a day on Facebook, accounting for 40% of daily internet use, and check the site every few hours.

Facebook users compare their appearance most often to their own images, then to those of their peers, and rarely to images of family members and celebrities.

The researchers discussed reasoning for this finding. For example, unlike TV and music videos, on Facebook, users can compare pictures of themselves with their peers or past images of themselves.

The researchers also note that self-comparisons may lead to greater self-objectification for women as they look at themselves literally as an observer. They wrote, “Furthermore, self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts, also contributing to self-objectification.”

To help young women stop comparing themselves and promote wellness, the researchers recommend that young women post fewer images of themselves on Facebook and follow people on Facebook who post photos less frequently.

The researchers continued, “This was one of the first studies which shows that appearance comparisons partially account for the relationship between media usage and self-objectification. Young women report spending long periods of time on Facebook and this research highlights some of the potential negative influences that Facebook may have on how young women view their body."

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