10 facts you absolutely need to know about Instagram and body image in young women

Instagram is a great app, and it’s grown rapidly due to its image-heavy platform. Instagram is not inherently bad, but research suggests that people who use Instagram – particularly young women – need to be cautious about managing what they see on their feeds.

The greatest danger for young women on Instagram is images of other women. These images are typically highly curated, Photoshopped or otherwise edited, and staged.

Furthermore, Instagram provides a platform that directly rewards women for posting sexy poses that focus on the body’s shape. This leads to something called “self-objectification,” a dangerous condition linked to eating disorders. We created a video showing how this works:

“Body image disturbance is one of the most common clinical features attributed to eating disorders.” (Eating Disorder Hope) Instagram use has been directly correlated with poor body image in young women.Monitoring social media use may be very helpful in preventing and reducing the impact of eating disorders. This is why we believe it is critical for parents to talk to their daughters about the dangers of Instagram.

Here are 10 facts about Instagram and its impact on young women’s body image and therefore potential for disordered eating:

1. Instagram ranked the worst app for mental health and body image, especially for young women. [1]

2. Instagram encourages young women to compare themselves against unrealistic versions of reality [2]

3. Instagram makes it easy for girls and women to feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as they ar.e [2]

4. Young women who spend more than 2 hours on Instagram and other social networking sites report poor mental health. [2]

5. As little as 30 minutes per day on Instagram can make women fixate negatively on their weight and appearance. [3]

6. The more frequently that young women look at #fitspo images, the unhappier they felt about their own bodies. [3]

7. Looking at fitness influencers and models on Instagram has a negative influence on self-esteem, which could predict eating disorders. [4]

8. Women are less satisfied with their bodies after looking at #fitspo images compared to travel images on Instagram. [4]

9. When a teenager’s post gets a lot of “likes” on Instagram, her brain responds in a similar way to seeing loved ones or winning money. [5]

10. When young women make social media comparisons, they report being more likely to start unhealthy weight-loss activities. [3]


[1] CNN: Instagram worst social media app for young people’s mental health

[2] Royal Society for Public Health: Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

[3] Macquarie University: Impact of Instagram use in young women

[4] New Media & Society journal: Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification

[5] UCLA Brain Mapping Center 

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