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The Unknown Impact of Selfie Posting

The commonly known selfies can be considered as a way to present ourselves on social media.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía

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Although social media is a great way to stay connected to other people, its focus on physical appearance can be preoccupying. Additionally, little is still known about selfie posting behavior and whether it can affect self-esteem.

Mills and Colleagues conducted an experimental study to test whether taking and posting selfies with and without retouching, can induce changes in mood and body image in young women. Their results showed that women who took and posted selfies to social media reported feeling less attractive afterward as well as anxious and less confident. Their results also indicated that the harmful effects of selfies took place even when the participants were able to retake or retouch their selfies.

It is worth mentioning that according to a study by Stefanone and colleagues,  women were found to upload more photos to social media than men and devote more time to updating and managing their profiles. As users can compare themselves to others, including friends and even strangers, the use of Facebook and Instagram is associated with increased upward social comparison and even self-objectification, leading to poorer mental health. This was confirmed in a study by Hanna and colleagues.

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In general terms, research has shown that the use of social media is positively correlated to appearance concerns. However, what causes more concern is that selfie posting, as well as retouching, were also found to be associated with low self-esteem in young females. The study by Mills and Colleagues, surprisingly found that women who posted selfies that had not been edited reported more feelings of anxiety than those who did not post selfies at all.

Even though we could argue that self-presentation strategies like selfie posting and retouching could give us a sense of empowerment and control over our appearances, studies have demonstrated that posting selfies makes women feel worse than usual, anxious, and less confident. Even when women can have the chance to retouch their selfies before posting them, the fact of editing their pictures can make them more conscious of their physical flaws and therefore lower their mood. 

So next time you feel like uploading a selfie, bear in mind that not posting it at all will lead you to feel happier, less anxious, and most important of all, less dissatisfied about your body image.