Before and after images on social media: the impact on female body dissatisfaction of getting only half the picture

Mark Turner, Antonia Ray

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Social media content can negatively influence body esteem in young women through the idealized forms of physical appearance that are portrayed. A recent social media trend has been a growth in posting images depicting side-by-side posed and un-posed photographs showing a natural self-representation alongside an altered version of the same individual. This study investigated the effects of viewing such ‘before and after’ style social media images on young women’s mood and body dissatisfaction. Participants were 162 young women (aged 17–29 years old) who were randomly allocated to view either 15 idealized (‘fitspiration’) images, 15 ‘before and after’ comparison images, or 15 images which depicted the ‘after’ only component of the same images. Results showed that exposure to ‘before and after’ comparison images led to improved mood and reduced body dissatisfaction in young women, compared to when viewing the ‘after’ only component or fitspiration images. Exposure to fitspiration-style images and ‘after’ only images increased body dissatisfaction and negative mood. This study suggests individuals may process and respond to images differently when viewed side-by-side compared to when the ‘after only’ version of the same image is shown on its own. Further research is needed to investigate the threshold of exposure to ‘before and after’ images embedded within social media needed for viewers to experience protective effects for body image.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHCI International 2023 Posters
Subtitle of host publication25th International Conference om Human-Computer Interaction, HCII 2023, Part IV
EditorsConstantine Stephanidis, Margherita Antona, Stavroula Ntoa, Gavriel Salvendy
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9783031360015
ISBN (Print)9783031360008
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2023
Event25th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 23 Jul 202328 Jul 2023

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (Print)1865-0929
ISSN (Electronic)1865-0937


Conference25th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Abbreviated titleHCII 2023


  • social media
  • body dissatisfaction
  • body image
  • comparison images
  • fitspiration
  • body acceptance

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