How much of your day consists of scrolling through social media — particularly, Instagram? If you spend even just half an hour a day aimlessly looking through your Instagram feed, it could spell trouble for your body image.
Apart from a little FOMO over everyone else's weekend getaways, researchers say that Instagram can make you feel worse about your own appearance.
According to research published in the New Media & Society journal, spending time looking at fitness influencers and models on Instagram has a negative influence on your self-esteem.
For the study, researchers at the University of New South Wales and Macquarie University surveyed 350 Australian and American women aged 18-25, and found that the more often they looked at "fitspo" images, the more likely they were to be unhappy with their own bodies. Researchers called it "self-objectification," which they noted could predict other mental health problems, such as depression and disordered eating.
The link doesn't prove that Instagram causes these issues. But it makes sense that looking at fitspiration photos may not always inspire us, but could make us feel worse about our bodies. It's also worth noting, however, that a study from 2015 showed women were less satisfied with their bodies after looking at fitspo photos versus travel photos. Not to mention, a study from earlier this year found that Instagram was the worst app for your mental health, so it's not too much of a leap to say that it could affect your body image, too.
Of course, how your feed affects your mental health and self-esteem also depends on who you follow. If you're not a big fan of the Instagram influencer world, for example, scrolling through your feed might not be as detrimental.
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