BALTIMORE - Facebook has not only changed the way we communicate with each other, but also how we view ourselves.
[If you're tagged in a photo you don't like?] “Oh, de-tag right away,” said Facebook user Catherine Irby, “I won't let people take candid shots of me anymore because of Facebook because I know it will go online."
Online and out for the world to see, in part creating a new hyper self-awareness; users increasingly managing their walls, photos and image.
"I have definitely gone back and deleted the pictures of when I was heavier because ya know, you are self-conscious about that. It is not the image you want to put forward to anyone," said Facebook user Rebecca Mesa.
These are the same types of statements doctors at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt were beginning to hear from their patients and the main reason behind them commissioning a survey to gauge the impact of Facebook on body image.
[What was the most disturbing or concerning part of this data you looked at?] “I think the pervasive sense of body dissatisfaction that's out there."
Doctor Steven Crawford is the Associate Director at The Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt.
He says the survey revealed 75 percent of those polled said they were unhappy with their bodies and 51 percent say using Facebook makes them more conscious about their body and weight.
Users are increasingly hyper focused on comparing their bodies to their friends or, now with the new timeline feature, obsessing about how they used to look.
Facebook is an intricate and visual social platform giving rise to physical insecurities in some.
"A significant percentage, maybe half the people are using their Facebook interaction as ways to compare themselves to other people and looking at photos and coveting the bodies of other friends or the weights of other people and not feeling good about their own bodies," said Dr. Crawford.
The survey wasn't meant to nor does it make a direct correlation between Facebook and eating disorders, but the center says the numbers are a cause for concern.
"Facebook may be another step in our culture that promotes self-consciousness about our appearance and feelings of low self-worth around body and those are significant factors in proliferation of eating disorders."
Or at the very least changing behaviors; Center for Eating Disorders Director Dr. Harry Brandt says the survey also revealed nearly half those polled avoided social events because of possible Facebook photos or spending a lot of time getting what they call ‘camera ready’ for an outing.
Many people now keenly aware how they look could be posted, shared and judged at anytime.
"Certainly, this increases self-consciousness and self-consciousness about appearance is a hazard of this phenomenon," said Dr. Brandt.
A hazard this survey shows is only amplified by the constant, social and digital streams of our culture.
600 people nationwide between the ages of 16 and 40 took part in this survey.
The Center for Eating Disorders says to help combat the kinds of numbers it saw from this survey, simply take a break from Facebook every now and then, or at least try to focus your interactions away from the appearance of yourself or others.
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