Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Janelle Applequist, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Artemio Ramirez, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kimberly Walker, Ph.D.


appearance-related comparison, body image, social media, Western beauty standards


Scholars have proved negative effects of social network sites on women’s body image caused by social comparison processes. However, only a few studies have examined the effects of Instagram on women’s appearance satisfaction and no selfies were taken into consideration in regard to that issue. The purpose of this research was to examine the social comparison theory through the lens of Instagram selfies and determine the effects of selfies on women’s appearance satisfaction. In-depth interviews with 26 female millennials, ages 18 to 32, reveal the re-defined standard of an ideal body image, shifting away from being skinny to becoming fit, affected by the exposure to celebrities and models’ selfies on Instagram. Though some of the participants admitted to having a positive body image, none of the interviewees reported a complete satisfaction with their bodies. Results indicated that although female millennials do look up to celebrities to define their ideal body, they experience equally intense negative feelings after the comparison to selfies of attractive friends. Most importantly, interviews have demonstrated that the number of likes and comments are as important to female millennials as the aesthetics of the selfie. Likes and comments on own selfie play a significant role in the construction of her body image, acting as a sign of validation from the society, and, thus, significantly affecting her self-esteem and perception of her own beauty.