Posts

Young People’s Engagement with Social Media: The Case for Developing Adult Digital Literacy

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With recent discussions about potential harms of Instagram , particularly for teenagers, we revisit this 2019 post highlighting the need for relevant adults to become more digitally literate.  It is well established that young people make extensive use of social media. In the UK, 83% of 12-15 year olds have a smartphone, 99% go online for over 20 hours per week, and 69% have a social media profile . It is certainly apparent that social media is a key resource in the lives of contemporary young people and is a central space for the development of identities and relationships, as well as emotional regulation, self-expression, learning and much more. At the same time, many adults find young people’s uses of social media concerning. The dominant narratives that surround young people and social media tend to be associated with risk, and the potential for negative impacts, in areas including body image and body dissatisfaction. The key challenge is that the contemporary digital worl

“I know why I have the scars that I do, and the bottom line is that I need them to exist”: Cancer treatment and women’s body image

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With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we revisit this great post exploring the impact of breast cancer treatment on women's body image.  The month of October is a time when charities, individuals, brands and businesses in the UK raise awareness of diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the UK, and in any one month around 5000 women will be diagnosed with the disease (Breast Cancer Care, 2018). Surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone therapy are used to treat women affected, and cancer survival has doubled in the last 40 years (Cancer Research UK, 2018).   Procedures and therapies impact on women’s bodies physically and emotionally as they experience the changes caused by the disease and treatments.   Women might find it difficult to come to terms with a body that differs from idealised media images, and previous work on women’s body image and well-being after cancer treatment has focussed mostly

Traditional media disclaimer labels are ineffective at improving women’s body image; But what about social media disclaimers?

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Earlier this year, Norway passed a law requiring that social media influencers who edit their appearance on promotional posts must add a disclaimer label declaring this editing. In this excellent post from 2018, Jasmine Fardouly explores whether such disclaimers are likely to be effective: (For more recent research with similar findings, see Livingston, Holland & Fardouly's 2020 article in Body Image journal) Whether you are reading a magazine, scrolling through social media, or just walking past shop fronts or advertisements, it is likely that you will come across glamorous images of thin women living a seemingly perfect lifestyle. These images generally promote a very narrow beauty ideal that is unattainable for most women. These images are also often edited, using appearance-enhancing lighting and photo editing filters, apps, and programs. Thus, the beauty ideal being promoted in these images is not real or achievable. Decades of research suggests that looking at these

Seeing the Self Through Selfies: Beauty, Selfies and Cancer

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When I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer two days before my 28th birthday, the first question I asked was “Am I going to lose my hair?” “Probably,” the nurse answered, as I felt the ground fall away from under my feet. My hair wasn’t the best hair in the world (it had recently recovered from a horrendous, self-imposed quarantine fringe), but it was still mine. Well-meaning comments of “it will grow back” and “it is only temporary,” whilst being true, delegitimised the very real sense of grief I felt. Every time I touched it in the lead up to my first chemotherapy session, I imagined it not being there and felt a lurch in my stomach. I couldn’t imagine my face without eyebrows or eyelashes, and in my obsessive reading about side-effects, I convinced myself that my nails were going to fall off. Of course, being bald temporarily was preferable to dying, but classic media images of cancer patients haunted me. It felt like my identity was being stripped away, leaving me with nothing

Here Come the Boys: Make-up and Masculinity

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With War Paint for Men opening a 'world-first' store selling make-up for men in London last month, we revisit this great post on make-up and masculinity from early 2019:  I’ve become more and more interested in the advertisements that appear on my Facebook feed and what this seems to indicate about who Facebook think I am, what my interests and aspirations are. This has shifted recently from amusement at the back shavers, ear-hair clippers and baldness cures that it might be imagined would appeal to a bald middle aged man to (as the ads have become more specialized and targeted) a more critical thinking about the gendered and sexualized subject that the ad algorithm constructs and presents back to me, anchored very much around ideas of male beauty. Photo by  Jaysen Scott  from  Pexels  (edited) I’m discussing this in this blog because my targeted ads are currently overwhelmingly about male grooming and beauty products. This includes a number of advertisements for

How Might the Fit of Clothes Impact Women’s Body Satisfaction?

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  How does it make you feel if you cannot fit into clothes in your usual size? Interview data suggest that many of us monitor our weight by seeing how our clothes fit, and tighter clothes have been linked with body dissatisfaction. What about when retailers do not stock clothes in your size? New research suggests that availability of well-fitting clothes may impact on our body satisfaction. Clothing fit and body image UK and US women have reported that tightness of clothes is a motivator to lose weight. In many cases, clothes fit was more important than looking at themselves in mirrors or weighing themselves in prompting dieting. The fit of close-fitting garments (such as jeans) was used by many women to judge whether they had gained weight. This pattern was seen in women in a wide range of ages as seen in these quotes from participants in UK interviews (Grogan, 2021):   “I don't look in the mirror to see how fat I am. And when I put on clothes that are tight around the waist

THE BOTULINUM TOXIN AND COSMETIC FILLERS (CHILDREN) ACT 2021

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Photo by  Sam Moqadam  on  Unsplash There has been a huge growth in the use of non-surgical cosmetic procedures over the last decade. [1] The use of such procedures is by no means only confined to the older person concerned at staving off the rapid onset of age; instead today the demands of “beauty” can be seen as much more pervasive. [2] Over the last few years there has been an increased interest by younger people, including teenagers, in the use of cosmetic procedures. This has been exacerbated by the use of social media and the rise of the “influencer” in an Instagram world. At the same time such a rise in use has been accompanied with concerns in relation to their safety. Risks in relation to Botox include such things as infections, breathing difficulties and double-vision; in the case of fillers scarring, infection and blocked facial blood vessels. [3] Concerns have also been expressed regarding the psychological impact of the use of Botox and fillers, for example, in relati