Unrealistic post-baby body images on social media ‘may worsen body satisfaction’

Researchers found 1,000 images tagged #postpartumbody were uploaded to Instagram every day.

Unrealistic post-baby body images on social media ‘may worsen body satisfaction’

Unrealistic images of post-baby bodies on social media could be leading to additional stress among new mothers, a study suggests.

Researchers said that most images of women on Instagram tagged with #postpartumbody do not reflect the actual population of women who have recently given birth.

They said that every day, 1,000 images are uploaded to the social media site with the tag.

Their findings, which are being presented at the International Congress on Obesity in Melbourne, Australia, and jointly published in the journal Healthcare, found that 37% of images had “low” body fatness and 54% were deemed to be “average”. Around half had “visible” or “high” muscle definition.

Four in 10 women featured in images were wearing fitness attire.

“Given that Instagram is highly accessed by women during the postpartum period, the inclusion of health information may be necessary to interrupt the potentially harmful content observed in our study.

“This may include information targeting diet, exercise, infant feeding and psychological well-being to optimise postpartum health.”

One of the authors, Dr Megan Gow, from the University of Sydney, said: “These images are presenting an ‘idealised’ version of the postpartum body which may contribute to body dissatisfaction in postpartum women who view such imagery and may already be struggling with feelings of inadequacy.”

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