Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on New Findings on Humanities and Social Sciences
Age Differences in Malaysian Women’s Body Esteem and the Impact of Image-Based Social Media: The Developmental Context of Appearance-Related Social Comparison and Objectified Body Consciousness
This study attempted to identify the age-related differences in young adult women and middle-aged women’s body experience in the context of image-focused social media that put female users in touch with idealized body images through picture viewing, sharing, editing and evaluating under the eight-stage theory of psychological development. A quantitative cross-sectional survey was distributed to 258 young adult females (aged 20-39 years) and 153 middle-aged females (ages 40-59 years) living in Malaysia urban districts mainly through online platforms. Bivariate correlation analysis and single linear regression were applied to investigate the impacts of image-based social media exposure on body esteem among women of different ages based on social comparison theory and objectified body consciousness theory. The direction of females’ appearance comparison behavior was also examined. Findings indicated that there were similarities and differences in the investigated mechanism between young and older women. No association between participants’ exposure to image-based social media and their body esteem was found, while image-based social media exposure positively predicted the degree of appearance-focused social comparison among participants across two age ranges. Besides, the results suggested that more frequent physical appearance comparison on social media was related to higher tendency to young and middle-aged females’ objectified experience namely body surveillance and body shame that in return would negatively predict their body esteem. However, young women have a stronger tendency to upward comparison as opposed to older women. In conclusion, most parts of the mechanism related to social media exposure, female body esteem, and body experience such as appearance-related comparison and objectified body consciousness for the older females were similar to that found in the young adult females.
Keywords: age gap, body esteem, social media.