A new study has suggested that regardless of how much time young women devote to viewing television, music videos and using the internet, they will compare their appearances more frequently to photos in magazines and on Facebook.
The researchers said that their study shows that spending more time reading magazines and on Facebook is associated with greater self-objectification among young women and these relationships are influenced by women's tendency to compare their appearance to others, particularly to peers on Facebook.
Surveying 150 female college students and staff ages 17-25, researchers Jasmine Fardouly et al., also found that magazines, though significantly related to self-objectification, are infrequently read by women. On average, the women spent about two hours a day on Facebook, accounting for 40% of daily internet use and check the site every few hours.
It also showed that Facebook users compare their appearance most often to their own images, then to those of their peers, and rarely to images of family members and celebrities.
The researchers also note that self-comparisons may lead to greater self-objectification for women as they look at themselves literally as an observer. They further wrote that self-comparisons to images of a previous self might engender a greater focus on specific body parts, also contributing to self-objectification.
To help young women stop comparing themselves and promote wellness, the researchers recommend that young women post fewer images of themselves on Facebook and follow people on Facebook who post photos less frequently.
They added that this was one of the first studies which shows that appearance comparisons partially account for the relationship between media usage and self-objectification, adding that young women report spending long periods of time on Facebook and this research highlights some of the potential negative influences that Facebook may have on how young women view their body.
The study appears in Psychology of Women Quarterly.