The scientists from University of California revealed that viewing images of extremely thin women on Facebook and other social media platforms may result in body dissatisfaction and eating disorders among women.
For the study, Ghaznavi and associate professor Laramie Taylor examined about 300 images from Twitter and Pinterest postings that used the terms "thinspiration" and "thinspo" to tag images and ideas promoting extreme thinness and often casting eating disorders in a positive light.
"Imagine a teenage girl or even a young woman looking for inspiration using terms such as 'attractive,' 'fit,' or 'pretty,'" Ghaznavi said. "She will likely find images of headless, scantily clad, sexualized women and their body parts."
Images from Twitter, popular among younger audiences, were most likely to be cropped to remove heads and focus on specific body parts compared to Pinterest.
"This could prompt these girls and women to resort to extreme dieting, excessive exercise or other harmful behaviours in order to achieve this thin ideal," Ghaznavi added. The researchers examined that repeated exposure to such content can result in body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes.
Their paper "Bones, body parts, and sex appeal: An analysis of thinspiration images on popular social media" was recently published in Body Image: An International Journal of Research.