#NoFilter: Examining the Relationship Among Online Photo Manipulation and Mental Health Variables of African American Women



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Background: The way in which media images are being presented to the public has transformed within the last 15 years as more individuals are gaining internet access and using online social networking sites as a primary tool to communicate societal expectations of beauty. Users also help maintain these expectations by posting personal images that reflect similar ideas. Photo-based activities such as posting “selfies” (photos one takes of oneself) or “usies” (photos of oneself that includes others) have shown a correlation with women endorsing greater thin ideal internalization, self-objectification, and drive for thinness. Purpose: There is minimal research that explores how engagement in specific online activities can help perpetuate beliefs about cultural standards of beauty. Current research only examines the impact of usage habits (i.e., duration/frequency) among samples of predominately white women. Considering the increasing popularity of social media, it is important to explore the relationship between exposure and engagement in specific social networking activities and body dissatisfaction among Black women. As a result of an absence of literature that examines the impact of specific entities or activities of social media on body image concerns, this study posed the following research question: What is the relationship among engagement in photo-related activities, including photo investment and photo manipulation, body dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety, appearance comparison, and skin color satisfaction among a sample of Black women? Methods: This study recruited 333 Black women between the ages of 18 and 34 years old that reported having an Instagram or Facebook account. Participants completed a selfreported survey, and four multiple regressions analyses were conducted with photo investment and photo manipulation as the predictor variables and Body Dissatisfaction, appearance anxiety, online physical appearance comparison, and skin color satisfaction as the criterion variables. Results: Photo investment and photo manipulation appeared to make unique and distinct contributions in the various domains of appearance related concerns among a sample of Black women. These findings support the notion that having more investment in the types of photographs that are posted along with modifying pictures prior to posting actually contributes to a cyclical process that helps to maintain dissatisfaction with one’s body.



Social media, Body dissatisfaction, Selfies, Black women, Appearance anxiety, Appearance comparison, Facebook, Instagram, Skin color satisfaction, Colorism, Self-objectification, African American women