“When was the last time I took a selfie?” Yesterday? A few hours ago? Or maybe we’re one of the few people who don’t like selfies? Some people take 10 to 20 selfies before even getting out of bed.
They wash their face, get their hair and makeup done, and continue taking pictures of themselves only to make the perfect one that will go on their Facebook or Instagram account.
And then, they wait for likes and comments from their friends who are supposed to praise their “beautiful faces” and “gorgeous smiles.”
However, a 2018 study published in Body Image shows that taking and posting selfies on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media causes negative psychological effects for women.
It lowers their mood and confidence, which leads to anxiety, an increased focus on appearance, body dissatisfaction, and depression. Although the effects are broad, they tend to hit teenage girls and young women especially hard, as they are the most active users of social media.
Instead of reducing the use of social media, things like poor body image, anxiety, and depression are actually causing even greater use. People with poor body image could try to get positive comments about their appearance by posting attractive pictures of themselves.
Or, those who suffer from depression or anxiety may try to get in contact with other people through social media as an attempt to lower their sad feelings.
The research included 113 women from Canada between the age of 16 and 29 (the demographic group that posts most selfies.) They were separated into three groups and were all questioned how they feel about themselves.
The participants from the first group were given an iPad and were asked to take a single selfie and post it to one of their social media profiles.
The participants from the second group were asked to do the same, but this time they could take as many selfies as they want, and use a photo editing up before posting one photo on their social media profile.
The third group wasn’t asked to take a selfie. They didn’t even log in to their social media profiles. They were supposed to read a news article about travel locations.
The results showed that the women who took and posted selfies, retouched or not, felt more anxious and less confident after posting the photo than the women who were reading the news article.
What’s more, they also said they feel less attractive after posting their selfie. All things considered, taking and posting selfies showed no positive psychological effects on any of the women in the study.
The truth is, no one should judge women or anyone else for their social media behavior. The appearance of women today is under constant scrutiny, so it’s not fair to expect them not to react to these pressures.
Also, posing, editing, and posting selfies can be fun and empowering for some women.
However, you should be aware that something that seems fun and innocent now, can become negative for your mental and emotional wellbeing in the future.
This is especially true for teenage girls and young women who might already struggle with anxiety, eating disorders, depression, and poor body image. That’s why it’s best to limit taking and posting selfies.