Are Selfies Slimmer? Study Finds Self-Portraits Influence Body Perceptions

A recent study revealed that selfies create the illusion of a slimmer appearance but don't necessarily enhance attractiveness.

Are Selfies Slimmer? Study Finds Self-Portraits Influence Body Perceptions

Participants tended to rate people as slimmer when viewed in selfie photographs.

A significant portion of social media is dedicated to image sharing, with selfies emerging as the most commonly shared type of image by users. This observation underscores the immense popularity of selfies in the digital world. Presently, researchers are actively investigating the influence of selfies on individuals, and the results are proving to be truly astonishing.

A recent study that was published in the journal PLOS One reveals that taking selfies can create the illusion of a slimmer appearance, though it doesn't necessarily enhance one's attractiveness. People rated women's bodies as slimmer in selfie photographs than in photos taken from other angles, according to the researchers at York St John University and the University of York.

The study asked 272 participants to rate photos of 10 volunteer models dressed in exercise clothing. The models were photographed from three different angles: a selfie angle, a chin-down angle, and a straight-on angle. The participants rated the models in the selfie photos as significantly slimmer than the models in the other two angles. The researchers also found that participants with higher levels of disordered eating symptoms rated the models in the selfie photos more favorably.

As per the news release, on the basis of this finding and prior findings from other studies, the researchers suggest that viewing selfies could be more damaging than other types of photos to people who are vulnerable to developing eating disorders.

These findings highlight potential links between social media use and body satisfaction. However, the researchers note several limitations of the study, such as a small number of participants and a lack of precise matching of photo angles between volunteer models, which could have influenced judgments.

Future research could deepen understanding by, for instance, evaluating how different photo angles might influence judgments of different body types or whether viewers' own weight-to-height ratio might influence their photo judgments.

"Many of us see selfies every day as we browse the growing number of social media platforms. We know that filters can change the way bodies appear. This research suggests that the angle from which the photo is taken can change our judgments about body size, so that when consuming images on the internet, even simple unfiltered selfies, what we see is not necessarily an accurate representation of real life," the authors of the study said.