Appearance-focused Internet Use and the Thin-beauty Ideal

Tyne Stanley, James Barnes, Emma Short


Websites featuring appearance-focused content are a medium for constant appearance comparisons, addiction and pressure to meet existing beauty-ideals. This study investigated a sample of 264 males and females who use appearance-focused websites, with a view to determining the relationship with appearance dissatisfaction and self-worth. Data collection involved posting links to online questionnaires on popular social networking sites. Internet appearance exposure was found to correlate with a greater drive for thinness in females, suggesting that exposure to the thin-ideal body images presented online reinforces women’s desire to achieve the cultural expectations of body shape and weight. Furthermore the study highlighted that internet addiction was associated with a drive for thinness and low self-esteem in both males and females, with differences exhibited in regards to body-esteem. These findings emphasise the need for pathological internet use to be incorporated into media literacy programs and to encourage a critical stance toward current beauty standards.

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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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