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Being Successful and Being Thin: The Effects of Thin-Ideal Social Media Images With High Socioeconomic Status on Women's Body Image and Eating Behaviour

  • Wei Qi (a1) and Lijuan Cui (a1)

Social media has outpaced traditional media to be the most popular sociocultural channel to transmit thin-ideal images, an established trigger for body image concerns and disordered eating in women. With an experimental design, the present research first demonstrated that exposure to thin images on social media threatened women's body image and increased their unhealthy food consumption (Study 1). However, given that thin images posted on social media are usually from wealthier people, the present research hypothesised that it may not be the body shape but the perceived socioeconomic status (SES) of images that indeed have negative effects on women. By manipulating the perceived SES of thin images and incorporating a baseline control group (Study 2), the present research provided causal evidence for the hypothesis by indicating that viewing thin images with parallel-perceived SES could significantly buffer undesirable thin-ideal effects on self-objectification and food intake. Therefore, future research needs to pay more attention to the role of SES in the thin media images literature.

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      Being Successful and Being Thin: The Effects of Thin-Ideal Social Media Images With High Socioeconomic Status on Women's Body Image and Eating Behaviour
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Lijuan Cui, The School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshan Road N., Putuo District, Shanghai 200062, China. Email:
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