Now you are back in the locker room so of course, you reach for your phone. After checking your emails and texts perhaps you open Instagram. Boom. The first photo that comes up in your feed is of some picture-perfect influencer who also just did a workout and is showing off their glistening body in their scantily clad but somehow stunningly chic workout ensemble. You may think this practice is harmless but according to a new study looking at gym selfies is super damaging to your confidence and mental health.
In a new survey of 1,962 women by the public body Sport England 63% said they felt self-conscious after seeing the “perfect figure” online. It also found that 24% say it makes them feel bad about themselves. Looking at a selfie after a workout can completely derail any progress that was made from the workout itself.
This falls in line with a 2018 study that discovered that omen who took and then posted selfies reported feeling more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterward. From the study:
“Social media presents innumerable idealized images of thin, lean/tone, beautiful, photo-shopped women, and the “thin ideal” and “athletic ideal” are displayed as a normal, desirable, and attainable body type for every woman. Furthermore, the Internet and social media have been found to promote thinness, dieting behavior, and weight loss through idealized images of “perfect” women. Women who use social media often internalize the “thin ideal,” causing them to strive for an unrealistic, unnatural standard of beauty and to feel ashamed when they are unable to achieve it. Studies have found that frequent exposure to the Internet and social networking websites results in high levels of weight dissatisfaction, drive for thinness, and body surveillance in young women, regardless of race. Additionally, Perloff (2014) suggests that women who have relatively higher levels of thin-ideal internalization, perfectionism, and/or low self-esteem would be especially likely to spend time on appearance-focused online comparisons and that they probably do not use ‘self-protective’ downward appearance comparisons (i.e., comparing their appearance to less attractive friends). ”
Another study from 2016 found that scrolling through your Instagram feed or even posting pictures of yourself was directly associated with negative thoughts about one’s body. “People are comparing their appearance to people in Instagram images, or whatever platform they’re on, and they often judge themselves to be worse off,” says Jasmine Fardouly, a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia.
There has been some progress made with other studies that show body-positive content (content that encourages acceptance of all body types and promotes self-love no matter your size or shape) can help boost some self-satisfaction. However, the downside is that there is still so much focus on the body itself.
Though many of these studies focus on women, men can be impacted by this too. Men’s Health Australia cited a study of 230 active social media users that looked at health content online. “A lot of us just kind of scroll through and see things passively,” said study co-author Tricia Burke or Texas State University. “We might not realize that we are internalizing it and that it can be affecting our attitudes about ourselves.”
It simply leads to more negative internal self-esteem issues. That is not how you want to feel after a workout.