Given the heightened attention to visual impression management on social media websites, previous research has demonstrated an association between Facebook use and objectified body consciousness among adolescent girls and young women in various Western countries, including the U.S. (e.g., Meier and Gray 2013). The current study aimed to test whether both young women and men using social networking sites are vulnerable to objectified body consciousness, and to extend this line of research to sexual health outcomes. We tested a path model of Facebook involvement, objectified body consciousness, body shame, and sexual assertiveness and examined whether the negative health consequences of objectified body consciousness were greater in magnitude for women than men. Participants in this study were U.S. college students in the Midwest, 467 women and 348 men, who on average reported using social networking sites for 6 years. They completed survey measures assessing their involvement in Facebook, body surveillance, appearance self-worth, and enjoyment of sexualization. They also reported on feelings of body shame and sexual assertiveness. For both women and men, Facebook involvement predicted objectified body consciousness, which in turn predicted greater body shame and decreased sexual assertiveness. The link between objectified body consciousness and body shame was greater in magnitude for women, but no gender difference was found in the association between body shame and sexual assertiveness. We suggest that social media foster a heightened experience of the self from an observer’s point of view, which has consequences for body image and sexual agency among women as well as men.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 12, 2014
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