Taking a selfie can be related to self-objectification

DN Bureau

Spending too much time on selfies is a matter of concern as a study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona reached to a conclusion that taking and sharing selfies can be related to self-objectification.

Representative Image
Representative Image

Washington DC: Spending too much time on selfies is a matter of concern as a study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona reached to a conclusion that taking and sharing selfies can be related to self-objectification.

Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, a senior study author said, "Self-objectification is the idea that you come to think of yourself as an external object to be viewed by other people."

Also Read: Twitter acquires Chroma Labs 

Adolescent girls spend too much time agonizing over which photo of themselves to post or rely heavily on editing apps to alter their images, there may be cause for concern.

According to a study led by researchers at the University of Arizona, selfie editing and time invested in creating and selecting the perfect selfie were both related to self-objectification, which led to body shame, appearance anxiety and more negative appearance evaluations in teen girls.

Jennifer Stevens Aubrey said, "Your orientation to the world is not an internal one, where you're thinking about how you feel or what you know or what you can do, but rather what you look like to other people. The focus on taking the perfect selfie seems to be encouraging girls to learn to see themselves as external objects for people to look at and admire."

The researchers' findings, published in the Journal of Children and Media, were based on a study of 278 teenage girls, ages 14 to 17. The teens completed an online survey in which they answered questions about how often they share selfies on social media and how often they use specific photo editing techniques, such as reducing red-eye or using an app to smooth their skin or make them appear thinner. They also responded to a series of statements designed to measure how much time and effort they spend selecting which selfies to share on social media - what researchers referred to in the paper as their level of "selfie investment."

In addition, the girls completed a series of questionnaires designed to measure their levels of self-objectification and appearance concerns. Aubrey said: "Our main finding was that we really shouldn't be too worried about kids who take selfies and share them; that's not where the negative effects come from. It's the investment and the editing that yielded negative effects. Selfie editing and selfie investment predicted self-objectification, and girls who self-objectify were more likely to feel shameful about their bodies or anxious about their appearance."

The researchers said they chose to focus on adolescent girls because they are especially vulnerable to self-objectification.

"Girls are socialized in a way that makes them self-objectify to a greater degree than boys would; that's a pretty consistent finding," said lead study author Larissa Teran.

Girls also are more likely than boys to experience negative consequences, such as body image issues, as the result of self-objectification, which can, in turn, lead to problems like depression and eating disorders, the researchers said.

Also Read: Consume this diet for healthy heart 

"Self-objectification is the pathway to so many things in adolescence that we want to prevent. So, interventions really should focus on how we can encourage girls to develop an awareness of themselves that's not solely hinged on what they look like to other people," Aubrey added.

The researchers said parents and caregivers of adolescent girls should be aware of red flags on teens' phones, such as selfie editing apps or camera rolls teeming with selfies. If a teen seems to be selfie-obsessed, it might be time for a talk.

"Having those conversations at a very early age is one of the ways problems can be avoided in the future," Teran said.

The researchers also note that there can be different motivations for sharing selfies.

"Selfies are a part of the media landscape, but you should post them for reasons other than trying to get people to admire your appearance or your body," Aubrey said. For example, posting a selfie on vacation or with friends may be more about sharing an experience than focusing on appearance.

With an estimated 93 million selfies taken each day, they aren't going away anytime soon, nor should they, researchers said. Teran said the important thing to remember is: "Selfies aren't bad. Just don't obsess." (ANI)

Related Stories