Just Seven Minutes Of TikTok Content Can Be Harmful For Body Image

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Did you know that watching just seven minutes of ‘beauty content’ in one session on TikTok or Instagram is enough to experience some type of shame or anxiety about the way you look?

That’s less than Taylor’s version of ‘All Too Well’ and the equivalent of watching two Junkee Takeaway eps, which is frightening. Australian experts at Queensland’s Griffith University are looking into how young people engage with beauty content on social media and the impacts that image-centric videos have on users.

Speaking to the ABC, Dr Veya Seekis from Griffith University said the preliminary findings from her research have found that just seven minutes of watching beauty content can have “significant impacts” on young people.

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More than 100 women or people who identify as women aged 17 to 25 participated in the study which is expected to be published later this year. Participants were reportedly made to watch different videos on Instagram and TikTok.

According to Dr Veya Seekis those who watched travel or self-compassion videos did not experience the same level of appearance anxiety and shame, as those watching beauty content — giving unwavering power to content that really is in every corner of social media.

Roughly one million Australians are living with an eating disorder, in any given year.

Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses, and while there is no singular cause for them, experts stress that social media algorithms and short videos are contributing to the rise of eating disorders in Australia.

This was especially the case during lockdowns. During 2021 to 2022, Eating Disorders Victoria recorded a 300 percent increase in demand for its services. And in the same year in Queensland, more than 1,200 people presented to emergency departments with eating disorders. That was up from 744 in 2018 to 2019.

@braydeecardinal scary #fyp ♬ Daddy Issues – The Neighbourhood

Meanwhile body image issues impact people of all ages and genders, and is consistently ranked as a top three concerns for young people in the Mission Australia survey.

The Butterfly Foundation surveyed almost 1000 Australians about how social media impacted their body image, earlier this year. And found that 86% of respondents said that they had unfollowed or muted a person’s account they were following because it was having a negative impact on their mental health. 42% reported using filters to make themselves look better while 64% agreed they felt pressured to look a certain way on social media.

What’s disappointing experts and advocates is that many beauty and clothing brands are still platforming and profiting off one very particular look on their socials: skinny.

Of course the body positivity movement has helped bring more body inclusivity and diversity into fashion and beauty, but we still have a long way to go to fully squash the hangover from 90s fashion mag days and early 2000s lifestyle mags days of diet culture.


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Journalist, writer and model Elfy Scott has encouraged on her socials for young insta users to call out brands over social media that are still showcasing one size in their advertising.

Simply by unfollowing them or commenting on their posts can send a message that they do hold a responsibility to not encourage unhealthy expectations in this space.

If this article or video has raised anything for you, you can access help via The Butterfly Foundation’s National Helpline on 1800 334 673 or e-mail [email protected]u