Lifestyle / Family

Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
8 Nov 2021
2:11 pm

What to do if your teenage girl spends hours editing her selfies

Citizen Reporter

A teen selfie may seem like harmless fun but what happens when they spend hours editing the image, leading to body shame?

Picture: iStock

A teen selfie is one thing but teenage girls who spend hours editing their selfies may feel more body shame and appearance anxiety, this is according to a study by the University of Arizona.

Interestingly, taking and sharing selfies on social media is not linked to poor body image or appearance concerns.

However, when teens agonise over which selfies to post or spend hours using editing apps to alter their images, there may be cause for concern.

The researchers found that selfie editing and time invested in creating and selecting the perfect selfie were both related to self-objectification, which led to body shame, appearance anxiety and more negative appearance evaluations in teen girls.

“Self-objectification is the idea that you come to think of yourself as an external object to be viewed by other people,” says senior study author Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, an associate professor of communication in the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

“Your orientation to the world is not an internal one, where you’re thinking about how you feel or what you know or what you can do, but rather what you look like to other people. The focus on taking the perfect selfie seems to be encouraging girls to learn to see themselves as external objects for people to look at and admire.”

Study based on almost 300 teenage girls

The researchers’ findings were based on a study of 278 teenage girls, ages 14 to 17.

The teens completed an online survey in which they answered questions about how often they share selfies on social media and how often they use specific photo editing techniques, such as reducing red eye or using an app to smooth their skin or make them appear thinner. They also responded to a series of statements designed to measure how much time and effort they spend selecting which selfies to share on social media — what researchers referred to in the paper as their level of “selfie investment”.

In addition, the girls completed a series of questionnaires designed to measure their levels of self-objectification and appearance concerns.

Girls are vulnerable to self-objectification with a teen selfie

According to the researchers, girls who self-objectify were more likely to feel shameful about their bodies or anxious about their appearance. In addition, girls are especially vulnerable to self-objectification.

“Girls are socialised in a way that makes them self-objectify to a greater degree than boys would; that’s a pretty consistent finding,” says lead study author Larissa Teran, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona’s department of communication, who co-authored the study with Aubrey and doctoral student Kun Yan.

Girls also are more likely than boys to experience negative consequences, such as body image issues, as the result of self-objectification, which can lead to problems like depression and eating disorders, the researchers said.

The researchers said parents and caregivers of adolescent girls should be aware of red flags on teens’ phones, such as selfie editing apps or camera rolls teeming with selfies. If a teen seems to be selfie-obsessed, it might be time for a talk.

“Having those conversations at a very early age is one of the ways problems can be avoided in the future,” Teran said.

“Selfies are a part of the media landscape, but you should post them for reasons other than trying to get people to admire your appearance or your body,” Aubrey said. For example, posting a selfie on vacation or with friends may be more about sharing an experience than focusing on appearance.

With an estimated 93 million selfies taken each day, they aren’t going away anytime soon, nor should they, researchers said. Teran said the important thing to remember is: “Selfies aren’t bad. Just don’t obsess.”

Source: University of Arizona via