Selfie Editing Can Lead To Teen Girls Self-Objectifying, Research Says

According to the University of Arizona, the self-scrutiny that comes with editing and agonizing over which selfie to post can be "problematic" for teen girls.

We all do it - like it or not, selfies have become a part of our life just as much as smartphones, on-demand tv and social media have.

Selfies can be a great way of capturing a fun experience with your friends or just a way to show that you love a particular outfit you're wearing that day. Either way, selfies can be a fun and positive way to use social media and are most definitely not all negative.

But what do they mean for our teens - particularly teenage girls?

Well, according to research conducted by the University of Arizona, teens taking and posting selfies isn't an issue - however, the self-scrutiny that comes with editing and agonizing over which selfie to post can be "problematic" for teen girls.

They argue:

"The simple matter of posting selfies is not consequential for appearance concerns, but overemphasizing the importance of selfies and self-scrutiny through selfie editing are the practices that are potentially problematic for adolescent girls."

Apps like FaceTune allow users with even the most basic editing skills to enhance and alter their photos. Some edits are innocent, such as the ability to remove "red-eye" as a result of a strong flash - while others can be more drastic, such as changing the shape of the nose, whitening teeth or completely smoothing the skin from any impurities.

As a teen who suffered from acne, 15-year-old me would have done anything to smooth away my skin problems and post perfectly flawless photos of myself to Instagram. But would it have helped my confidence?

This research shows it could have actually made it worse - that it would have made me see myself as more of an object than a person. This is self-objectification.

In an article on, senior study author Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, an associate professor of communication in the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, explains the idea of self-objectification:

“Self-objectification is the idea that you come to think of yourself as an external object to be viewed by other people.

Your orientation to the world is not an internal one, where you’re thinking about how you feel or what you know or what you can do, but rather what you look like to other people. The focus on taking the perfect selfie seems to be encouraging girls to learn to see themselves as external objects for people to look at and admire.”

Needless to say, this is a scary thought. Aubrey continued:

"Selfie editing and selfie investment predicted self-objectification, and girls who self-objectify were more likely to feel shameful about their bodies or anxious about their appearance.”

What should you do if you think your teen is selfie-obsessed?

The researchers of the study maintained that parents should look out for certain red flags - for example, if your teen has a photo-editing app on their phone or if their image gallery if full of selfies, it might be a good idea to sit and have a chat with them.

All in all, people post selfies for a multitude of reasons and this isn't a bad thing. Like with almost all things - everything should be taken in moderation, and having an open, honest and non-judgemental conversation with your teen is the best course of action.

Sophie Gavin

Sophie is the Junior Content Executive at Family Friendly HQ.

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