Photoshopping the selfie: Self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls

Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Dec;48(8):1132-40. doi: 10.1002/eat.22449. Epub 2015 Aug 27.


Objective: Social media engagement by adolescent girls is high. Despite its appeal, there are potential negative consequences for body dissatisfaction and disordered eating from social media use. This study aimed to examine, in a cross-sectional design, the relationship between social media use in general, and social media activities related to taking "selfies" and sharing specifically, with overvaluation of shape and weight, body dissatisfaction, and dietary restraint.

Method: Participants were 101 grade seven girls (M(age) = 13.1, SD = 0.3), who completed self-report questionnaires of social media use and body-related and eating concerns measures.

Results: Results showed that girls who regularly shared self-images on social media, relative to those who did not, reported significantly higher overvaluation of shape and weight, body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and internalization of the thin ideal. In addition, among girls who shared photos of themselves on social media, higher engagement in manipulation of and investment in these photos, but not higher media exposure, were associated with greater body-related and eating concerns, including after accounting for media use and internalization of the thin ideal.

Discussion: Although cross-sectional, these findings suggest the importance of social media activities for body-related and eating concerns as well as potential avenues for targeted social-media-based intervention.

Keywords: adolescent girls; body dissatisfaction; dietary restraint; overvaluation of shape and weight; self-photos; social media.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / psychology
  • Eating / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Photography / methods*
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Social Media*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires