London: As per a new study, the images of extremely thin women on most popular social media sites might be harmful to those who view them.
University of California’s Jannath Ghaznavi and Laramie Taylor examined about 300 photographs from Twitter and Pinterest postings that used the terms “thinspiration” and/or “thinspo” to tag images and ideas promoting extreme thinness and often casting eating disorders in a positive light.
Ghaznavi said that a teenage girl or even a young woman looking for inspiration using terms such as “attractive,” “fit” or “pretty” will likely find images of headless, scantily clad, sexualized women and their body parts.
Images from Twitter, popular among younger audiences, were most likely to be cropped to remove heads and focus on specific body parts compared to Pinterest, according to the study.
The content analysis cannot speak to the effects of viewing the images, the researchers concede, but they point to studies that have shown repeated exposure to such content can result in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes.
Ghaznavi added that a young woman looking at these image may think that’s what she should look like, which could prompt these girls and women to resort to extreme dieting, excessive exercise or other harmful behaviors in order to achieve this thin ideal.
The study is published in Body Image: An International Journal of Research