Women may perceive selfies on Instagram and other social media sites as less authentic if they know it has been edited, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the journal Body Image, suggest that when women believed that selfies of thin and sexualised women had been edited, viewing these images had less negative impact on the heir mental health.
“Women see the edited photos as less authentic and it reduces the negative effect these images can have on them. They know that the online images might not reflect an offline reality,” said lead author Megan Vendemia from The Ohio State University in the US.
According to the researcher, many studies have found that viewing thin and sexualised images of models or others can lead women to put more value on being slender themselves — a line of thinking called thin ideal internalisation.
This internalisation can in turn lead to eating disorders or other psychological problems. But the findings suggested that women were less likely to internalise the thin ideal if they believed the pictures they viewed were edited.
For the study, the research team involved 360 female college students who were told that the study was designed to determine how people evaluate images that appear on popular social media sites.
The team viewed 45 selfies, taken from public Instagram accounts of thin women in revealing clothing. Some of the photos had icons, placed by the researchers that indicated the image was edited in Photoshop or included an Instagram filter.
The results showed that the more participants perceived that the photos were edited, the less they internalised the thin ideal.