Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

When Pretty Hurts: A Critical Look into the Roles and Stereotypes Young Women Experience across Social Media Sites and How the Pressure to Be Pretty Impacts Their Lives
by Garcia, Julia, Psy.D., Saybrook University, 2019, 235; 27541405
Abstract (Summary)

A mixed-methods approach of qualitative and quantitate research examined how young women experience the pressures of physical attractiveness on social media. Data-gathering instruments included 14 semi-structured recorded interviews as well as 137 online surveys. This study listened to the voices of young women ages 18-24 and their experiences in the growing phenomena where “Americans check their phones a total of 8 billion times a day” (Aiken, 2016, p. 54). There is a rich database on social media and the impact of traditional media on young women, however there was a gap in literature of whether the content in digital communities are impacting this demographic, specifically in regards to the messages they receive around beauty. This study sought to answer the following research question: How is being pretty conceptualized, perpetuated, and performed on social media for young women and what impact, if any, does it have on their lives? An examination of the content and even the context in which participants produced it was further explored.

Results contribute to understanding the influence of digital media when content is being produced by people who are being rewarded through its design to promote pretty pictures and perfect lifestyles. Both the quantitative and qualitative groups reported spending significant time on their social media sites, yet seldomly if at all, producing their own content. The interviews captured results that participants spend time on social media as consumers and preferred content they aspired to look like or have similar lifestyles to. Such discoveries demonstrate a critical concern that young women are not participating in a culture even though they are very actively engaged in it. Findings ultimately suggest that because of its central image-based features and algorithms such as likes, at its core, social media is a social health

issue rather than a social space to connect online. Further research should be done to identify top content creators and influencers on these platforms as well as the social media stake holders to learn more about their motives and incentives.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Laszlo, Kathia
Commitee: Meeker, Joy, Jackson, Theopia
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Womens studies, Multimedia Communications
Keywords: Instagram, Pressure, Pretty, Social health, Social media, Young women
Publication Number: 27541405
ISBN: 9781392745922
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