Think twice before taking your next selfie.
From the famed celebrities snapshots to the self-portraits your friends are taking during quarantine, selfies have become a mainstay in culture. It’s become painfully obvious too: everyone loves a good selfie. Whether it’s posting a raw in-the-moment shot to spending time editing your pictures to fit your brand, it’s important to note: your new selfie could be doing more harm than not hitting the like count you want – especially for younger women, according to a new study.
Researchers from Flinders University recently published a study in Body Image, where they determined that girls and young women shouldn’t spend much time editing their selfies for social media because of the negative impact it has on their own thoughts about their image.
Psychology researchers at the school asked 130 women between ages 18 to 30 to gauge their selfie tendencies. The study targeted women who were “thin and averaged sized,” according to a press release.
When analyzing participants’ selfie habits, researchers found that the longer the women took to edit and post selfies, it worsened their mood and dissatisfaction about their facial appearance, meaning: people didn’t like what they were seeing.
The participants spent an average of four minutes and 30 seconds editing five photos. Their editing focused on smoothing and changing skin tones, altering dark eye circles, and reshaping their faces and removing what they didn’t like.
That nitpicking process had Flinders University professor Marika Tiggemann come to the conclusion that women’s perception of self via a selfie can come with detrimental effects.
“We found an increase in dissatisfaction following the selfie task was based on the extent of editing being undertaken. This demonstrates that the editing of selfies is not a benign process but has negative consequences, even though participants reported being much happier with their edited selfie than their original photo,” Tiggemann said in a statement.
“Many women and girls spend considerable time and effort in taking and selecting their selfies, for example, finding the best lighting and most flattering angle, which can then be further enhanced by filters or digital editing to maximize their appearance and appeal.”
Tiggemann said the study’s findings show the difficulties women face negotiating the “contemporary social media world.”
“These suggestions are respectively consistent with the two unique predictors of increased facial dissatisfaction, such as thinking about how others will judge you, and thinking about making yourself look better than you do in real life,” she said.
This isn’t the first time social media use has been linked to negative emotional experiences. While some take more than eight selfies a day, research has shown how selfie-taking raises anxiety levels for women, while experiencing a decrease in confidence or feelings of attractiveness. Even excessive selfie-taking has been found as a form of narcissism by some.
Kyle Schnitzer is a staff reporter for Ladders.