Instagram Increasingly Affecting Men And Their Body Image Too, Say Researchers

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Not just women, men and teenagers are affected by Instagram influencers who set global benchmarks for ideal body shape, fashion and even facial trends, say researchers.

While perhaps not as focused on ‘thinness’ as women appear to be from female influencers, the study, published in the journal Body Image, confirmed males are responding to the body image and fitness messages shared by Instagram leaders, some with millions of followers.

“This may mean men are less exposed to some of the negatives of social media but confirms the influence of fitspiration (‘fitspo’) and body image on this online platform,” said study author from the Flinders University in Australia.

Despite the rise in use of social media, there haven’t been many studies into its effect on men and the new study found there are similarities and differences between women and men.

“While participants all had some vulnerable responses to some types of social media imagery, results typically obtained for women cannot simply be generalized to men,” said study author Marika Tiggemann, who has extensively researched the power of social media images on body image, eating and other behavior in women.

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According to the researchers, the new study shows there is a high level of response to fitspiration goals via Instagram influencers.

“It is interesting that both the fitspiration and fashion images made participants feel more inspired to exercise, and we have certainly seen a rise in men following international fitspo and professional sporting hero influencers,” said study co-author Isabella Anderberg.

The team studied responses from 300 US adult men aged 18-30 who were randomly shown images of bare-chested (fitspiration), clothed (fashion) and control images, similar to those posted by Instagram influencers.

It was found that exposure to bare-chested and muscular images resulted in significantly lower body satisfaction relative to viewing clothed fashion images or scenery images.

“It’s important to expand this research, including on the ‘Brotox’ facial ideals set in social media which is leading to more men reportedly using skin products and even cosmetic fillers and botox to keep up to influencers,” Anderberg noted.