Student Authors:

Hope R. Rutter '22, Gettysburg College
Kaley M. Michael '22, Gettysburg College
Cindy J. Campoverde-Reinoso '20, Gettysburg College
Thao Hoang '20 , Gettysburg College

Document Type


Date of Creation


Department 1



Body positivity is a trending movement that promotes appreciation of one’s body, including acceptance of one’s appearance and perceived flaws. In two experiments, we compared the effects of body-positive social media content relative to idealized body content and neutral control content on young women’s psychological states. In study 1, participants were randomly assigned to view Instagram posts involving fitspiration photos, body positive photos, body positive quotes, or travel landscape photos. In study 2, participants were randomly assigned to view Instagram posts involving selfies of the same individuals’ faces with or without makeup. As predicted, viewing body positive content (body positive photos, quotes, and no-makeup selfies) resulted in better mood and self-perceptions than viewing idealized body content (fitspiration photos and selfies with makeup), especially among participants with higher disordered eating symptoms and/or low trait self-compassion, and these effects were mediated by a reduction in self-criticism. Expanding on previous research demonstrating the detrimental effects of exposure to fitspiration and other idealized images on social media, these results also provide empirical support for the benefits of exposure to content promoting body acceptance.


Poster presented in Nov. 2020 at the annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Clinical Psychology at Liberal Arts Colleges Special Interest Group (CPLAC-SIG), Philadelphia, PA. This submission also won the CPLAC-SIG poster award for best student-initiated research.