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Impact of Social Media: A Thematic Analysis exploring body image and self-esteem amongst 18-24 year old women

Tuchband, Aja (2018) Impact of Social Media: A Thematic Analysis exploring body image and self-esteem amongst 18-24 year old women. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Although there is extant literature on the effects of mass media on body image and self-esteem, there has been little qualitative research exploring the effects of social media on solely these two phenomena. Thus, this present study aimed to explore the impact of social media on 18-24 year old women’s self-esteem and body image. Previous literature on these phenomena stem from a quantitative approach, using mostly self-report scales. Therefore, the present study explores the link between body image, self-esteem and social media through semi-structured interviews. To gain a rich and deeper understanding of individual’s experiences, six women who were aged between 18-24 were recruited using snowball sampling. Once the interviews were conducted, they were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis. Four themes were highlighted amongst the interviews: Shifting Perceptions of the Ideal Body, Digitally Altering Images, Impact of Likes and Self-Esteem and Well-Being. These findings suggest that Social Networking Sites such as Instagram and Facebook have an adverse effect on women’s body image and self-esteem, which in turn can impact the well-being of 18-24 year old women. This study provides further support to the claim that social networking sites provide abundant social comparison opportunities (Vogel et al, 2014). Limitations and scope for future research are discussed in full.

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