Using Instagram and Selfies to Explore Body Image in Gender Diverse Individuals
Authors: Adrian Hirshfield, Melody Metcalf, Karen Shackleford
Original Publication Site & Date: Fielding Graduate University, Winter Session 2019, Santa Barbara, CA
Abstract: The goal of this study was to explore the use of Instagram selfies posted by gender variant individuals (those who identify other than cisgender) in relation to body image, gender identity, and expression. To compensate for the lack of representation in mass forms of media, the gender variant community uses emerging media technologies, like social media, to explore and validate their identities. Digital self-portraiture (selfies) is a popular tool that individuals can use to express and expand the representation of diverse identities and bodies. Instagram selfies are identified as windows through which the expression of and dialogue surrounding diverse bodies can be observed . Public data was gathered from Instagram using self-identified cataloguing (hashtags) and coded for body image themes.
To compensate for the lack of representation in mass forms of media, the gender variant community uses emerging media technologies, like social media, to explore and validate their identities.
Instagram posts analyzed in this research showed a tendency for individuals to express the feeling of self-acceptance, especially in relation to body modification tools/behaviors and social acceptance. Results posit that body modification is a better predictor of self-acceptance than a sense of unity (or disjunction) between gender identity and body image. This is an important finding because it suggests that not all gender variant individuals experience dysphoria or a desire to align with a particular gender. Future research must not assume that the experience of gender exploration (like transitioning) places individuals at odds with their physical characteristics, but rather potentially facilitates more opportunities for self-acceptance in gender ambiguity.
Media Psychology, School of Psychology
Fielding Graduate University
#instagram #gender #mediapsychology #fielding