"I wish I'd have a body like that!": The effect of social media comments endorsing appearance ideals on body dissatisfaction of adolescents.

Creative Commons License

Kvardova N., Machackova H., Güleç Pap H.

ECREA 2022 9th European Communication Conference, Arhus, Denmark, 19 - 22 October 2022, pp.209

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Arhus
  • Country: Denmark
  • Page Numbers: pp.209
  • Bursa Uludag University Affiliated: Yes


Social media play a substantive role in the body image of adolescents. As frequent social media users, adolescents

often view imagery of idealized appearances displayed online (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016). Social media are

well-recognized for featuring selectively posted and digitally altered pictures of unattainably thin, muscular, and attractive

bodies (Saiphoo & Vahedi, 2020). Exposure to this kind of social media content has been linked to negative

body image and eating disturbances (Holland & Tiggemann, 2016), yet the previous research did not sufficiently

consider the role of communicative context accompanying social media idealized images. As the interaction with

others is a key affordance of social media, appearance-related images are commonly evaluated by users via

“likes”, emojis, and comments that praise a person’s appearance (e.g., “Great body!”). Such endorsing reactions

can reinforce the images’ adverse effects on body image, especially for adolescents who are prone to adhere to

appearance peer norms. However, the evidence is yet limited. The few studies (e.g., Tiggemann & Barbato, 2018)

that focused on the role of endorsing social media comments in body image have two main drawbacks: The role of

individual susceptibility characteristics that may determine the effect of endorsing comments has been neglected,

and we lack studies among adolescent boys. To overcome these gaps, the current experimental study examined

the impact of the comments endorsing appearance ideals on social media on body dissatisfaction among

adolescent girls and boys. We also investigated moderating effects of the tendency to internalize media ideals,

appearance schematicity, body appreciation, and gender. The data collected from 613 Czech adolescents (52%

girls) aged 13–18 (M = 15.5, SD = 1.7) did not support the presumed effect of exposure to endorsing comments on

body dissatisfaction, nor the moderating role of the investigated individual characteristics, except for gender. The

results showed that while the comments did not increase body dissatisfaction among boys, they did so among

adolescent girls. The further exploratory analyses also showed that the impact of endorsing comments depended

on the perceived attractiveness of the depicted girls and boys: the comments induced body dissatisfaction only

when the depicted person was perceived as highly attractive. The findings implicate that targeting the perceived

attractiveness of the media ideals could be an effective way to prevent the adverse influence of endorsing comments

on body image.

Holland, G., & Tiggemann, M. (2016). A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on

body image and disordered eating outcomes. Body Image, 17, 100–110. doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.02.008

Saiphoo, A. N., & Vahedi, Z. (2019). A meta-analytic review of the relationship between social media use and body

image disturbance. Computers in Human Behavior, 101, 259–275. doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.07.028