Does Facebook Make Women Feel Bad About Their Bodies?

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Facebook. For millions it is a part of everyday life—whether you’re a power user or an occasional lurker.

And researchers love to study what the social media does for our psyche. The latest comes from researchers in the United Kingdom and United States, who found that more time on Facebook could lead to more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends. In addition, they also found that for women who want to lose weight, more time on Facebook led to more attention being paid to physical appearance—including one’s body and clothing.

“While our findings point to a problem in how Facebook use relates to young women’s body image, I don’t want to advise them to stay off Facebook because I think this is unrealistic,” says one of the researchers Petya Eckler, a lecturer in journalism at University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. “And some research suggests that it may even be helpful in motivating people to become healthier and exercise more. So our message would be ‘don’t cut off Facebook but manage it.’

How do you do that? Here are some tips from Eckler to make sure the social media site builds your body confidence

  • Take the photos on Facebook with a pinch of salt. Many women try to present their best self there, not their real self, and some photos are even doctored to achieve that,” Eckler says. “What you see is not always what you get. You may notice this for the friends you see offline, but may not realize it for those distant acquaintances that you only see online.”
  • Block posts from any of your Facebook friends who make you feel bad about yourself. Facebook gives you this option, so you should use it to distance yourself from people who bring you down emotionally,” she says.
  • Finally, be the change that you want to see in others and don’t focus so much on your weight or body in Facebook discussions. Instead, talk about these issues in positive terms such as sharing healthy recipes, fun or new exercises you’re doing, group activities,” Eckler says. “Generally, focus more on being healthy than on losing weight or changing your body for its own sake. I think this is something that we all should be doing more of, both online and offline.”

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