Selfie culture : An analysis of women's perceptions of selfie pictures

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Title: Selfie culture : An analysis of women's perceptions of selfie pictures
Author: Schmidt, Christiane
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2016
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Media and Communication Studies
Medier och kommunikation
Abstract: Because of the common use of picture editing programs for mass media content, such as advertising images, the Western beauty ideal has reached a more rigid and uniform standard. This has not only been proven to be linked to a negative body image, but also stands in close relation to the expectation for women to measure up to it. Even though it has become common knowledge that such media content is not a reflection of reality, selfies on social media networks prove that there are indeed women that embody the desired cultural beauty ideal. Over the past years social media networks, such as Instagram, have experienced a significant rise in popularity. Especially celebrities, but also a large amount of non-celebrities, use social media channels in order to promote themselves by sharing body pictures with other users. This thesis analyzes the effect selfie images of both, a celebrity and non-celebrity woman, have on female recipients. The main question of this research is: How do women feel about their own bodies when being confronted with images of bodies of non-celebrities, as well as celebrities? The conducted focus group interviews and the content and thematic analysis revealed that women do not necessarily experience a negative body image after encountering selfie images that conform to the beauty ideal. Instead, different factors were taken into consideration that allowed making distinctions between celebrities and non-celebrities. Specifically, when considering the circumstances of the different lifestyles, the beauty ideal and a perfect body became less relevant. In this regard, celebrities rely on posting such selfie images on social media platforms in order to uphold their image and maintain a certain status. In contrast non-celebrities were perceived to do so out of existing insecurities, such as depending on reassurance from others. However, even though the celebrity selfie was preferred based on aesthetic reasons, the non-celebrity selfie was more relatable because of its realistic appearance. The expressed perceptions towards the selfies also differed noticeably when considering the participants’ age as a variable.

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