Even the most confident and self-assured woman can appreciate a compliment, especially if it has to do with your physical appearance. Sure, you don’t dress for anyone but yourself and you don’t need external validation, but it’s still nice to hear that you’re looking extra hot on a given day. Social media has made it easier than ever to give and receive these compliments about our physical appearance, but there’s a serious downside: positive comments about your physical appearance are hurting your self-esteem rather than helping it.
A new study performed by the School of Psychology at Flinders University in Australia and published in the journal Body Image found that the more positive reinforcement we receive about our appearance on Instagram, the greater amounts of body dissatisfaction we’re likely to experience. Say what?
Researchers had 128 female participants look at Instagram photos of women accompanied by comments, some remarking on how good the woman looked (i.e. “You look amazing.”) and the other remarking on the setting of the photo (i.e. “Great beach!”). All of the volunteers felt worse about their bodies after looking at the photos, but those who’d viewed the photos with the comments about the woman’s body felt even worse.
As study author Marika Tiggeman told PsyPost, “Although people make appearance comments to be supportive and helpful, in fact they just put more of a focus on appearance and in the end fuel body dissatisfaction among viewers … My advice is to not comment on appearance, but that is difficult with Instagram when all you have is a photo. Also, people put up photos precisely to be commented on and told they look good, so it’s part of a social script.”
It makes sense that commenting on someone’s physical appearance makes looks seem more important and puts that idea to the forefront of our minds. We all have things we’d love to change about our bodies if we could, but the key here is to remember that there are way better, more important things that make us beautiful. After all, hotness is all about attitude, right?