Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Roxanne Watson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Justin Brown, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Scott Liu, Ph.D.


social media, body image, Internet


A profusion of research has been dedicated to the effects of new media on body image. In an attempt to explain the inflation of eating disorders, several researchers have turned to the cultivation theory, postulating that increased interaction with these medias will lead to internalizations of the messages they disseminate. The over presence of extremely thin models and actresses can create a new reality for media users, who begin to equate thinness with beauty, power, femininity and happiness. While an abundance of research has delved into the impact of this thin ideal through television and magazines, the Internet as a medium is relatively new territory. Untrodden further is the field of social media, and particularly Instagram. The aim of this study was to determine the potential of cultivation theory via Instagram and its users.