Science Direct has a social media study from psychologists at Toronto’s York University and Adelaide’s Flinders University, who’ve found that women feel worse about themselves – lower confidence and less attractiveness – after putting self-portraits on social media … even ones they’ve been able to retouch:
Female undergraduate students (N = 110) were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: taking and uploading either an untouched selfie, taking and posting a preferred and retouched selfie to social media, or a control group. State mood and body image were measured pre- and post-manipulation. As predicted, there was a main effect of experimental condition on changes to mood and feelings of physical attractiveness. Women who took and posted selfies to social media reported feeling more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterwards compared to those in the control group.
The self-reported ethnic distribution of the sample was 24.8% South Asian, 20.2% European/Caucasian, 12.8% Black/African-American, 10.1% Middle Eastern, 9.2 Caribbean, 6.4% Pacific Islands American, 5.5% East Asian, 2.8% Latino/ Hispanic, and 8.2% other ethnic identification. Body mass index (BMI = kg/m2) scores ranged from 15.84 to 36.23 (M = 23.71, SD = 4.03) across the sample, with the mode, median, and mean all falling within the “normal” weight range (18.5 < BMI <24.9) ... For ethical reasons, the informed consent form contained the information that participants may be asked to post a selfie to their own social media profile. For the experimental task, participants in the Untouched Selfie condition were asked to take a single photo (a headshot) on the lab’s iPad and upload it to their preferred social media profile (Facebook or Instagram). Participants in the Retouched Selfie condition were asked to take one or more photos of themselves on the lab’s iPad and were told that they could use the photo editing app installed on the iPad to retouch the photo to their satisfaction before uploading it to their social media profile. Participants in the Control condition were also given the lab’s iPad but were asked to read a short article from a social media news website chosen for neutral, non-appearance related content (i.e., popular travel ideas for university students) and to answer questions about the article. This task was chosen to maintain the cover study of social media use and to control for using an iPad, and for the amount of time elapsed between pre-post measures. It was intentional that Control condition participants not engage on Facebook or Instagram (theirs or other people’s profiles, since we could not be certain that they were not exposed to appearance-related content, which could affect mood and/or body image). ... Instructions and set up in all three conditions took approximately 1–2 min. ... Participants who took and uploaded a selfie onto social media, without the option to retouch or take multiple photos, felt more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterward, and these differences were significantly greater than the control condition (i.e., reading a neutral news article online). These results all yielded medium effect sizes. These findings are consistent with the previous suggestion that appearance concerns are heightened when women interact with and construct their social media profiles, manifesting in poorer body image and mood (e.g., de Vries et al., 2014). However, we did not find significant effects of selfie-taking on all of the dependent variables of interest in the current study; we found null effects on state feelings of fatness, satisfaction with one’s body, and depression. We interpret these findings to suggest that the psychological states affected by taking and posting selfies to social media are specifically related to feelings of self-consciousness and/or fear of negative evaluation by others. ... In other words, having the ability to retake and retouch their selfie to their satisfaction before posting it did not mitigate women’s anxiety significantly. This lack of difference between the effects of the two experimental selfie tasks on anxiety was unexpected. ... In terms of feelings of confidence, women who could retouch their selfie did feel more confident afterward than those in the untouched selfie group, but they felt just as confident as those who did not post a selfie at all. ... Given that women between 16–25 years of age spend up to 5 h per week taking selfies and uploading them to their personal profiles (Pounders et al., 2016), these findings raise significant concern about social media use and well-being.