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Study: Facebook 'Stalking' Could Be Behind Your Poor Body Image

By Chelsea Karnash

NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA (CBS) – Forget glossy fashion mags; Facebook is the new source of your body woes.

According to new research out of Australia and published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, perusing Facebook frequently (a/k/a Facebook "stalking") is associated with self-objectification (or regarding yourself as an object) and comparing oneself to others.

In the study, scientists reportedly surveyed 150 young Australian women between 17 and 25 about their media consumption, including time spent watching TV, on Facebook and reading magazines.

While time spent in front of the television, watching music videos and surfing the internet had no impact on self-objectification, reading magazines and scrolling through Facebook, which the authors considered "an appearance-focused media type" due to the sheer number of photos uploaded daily, did.

But that's not all. While a woman reading a fashion magazine might not expect to look like a photo-shopped, anonymous model in an advertisement, it's a different story when she's staring at Facebook photos of her pretty, slim college roommate, a "real" person living a (relatively) regular life:

"Comparisons to peers on Facebook may be most strongly associated with self-objectification…because the appearance of peers may be seen as more personally attainable," "but also unattainable enough to still influence how women evaluate their own appearance," the study's authors write.

Sigh. So, what's the solution?

Other than staying off Facebook altogether, the scientists say "reducing the amount of appearance-based content available on Facebook would reduce the opportunities that women have to make appearance comparisons and could increase the occurrence of nonappearance comparisons, which can be beneficial."

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