Posting Selfies and Body Image in Young Adult Women: The Selfie Paradox


  • Sarah Grogan Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Leonie Rothery Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Jenny Cole Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Matthew Hall University of Derby


Selfies, young women, objectification, body image, interviews


This exploratory study was designed to investigate how young women make sense of their decision to post selfies, and perceived links between selfie posting and body image. Eighteen 19-22 year old British women were interviewed about their experiences of taking and posting selfies, and interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Women linked selfie posting to the “ideal” body, identity management, and body exposure; objectifying their own and others’ selfies, and trying to portray an image that was as close to “ideal” as possible. Women differentiated between their “unreal,” digitally manipulated online selfie identity and their “real” identity outside of Facebook and Instagram. Bodies were expected to be covered, and sexualised selfies were to be avoided. Results challenge conceptualisations of women as empowered and self-determined selfie posters; although women sought to control their image online, posting was constrained by postfeminist notions of what was considered socially appropriate to post.  

Author Biographies

Sarah Grogan, Manchester Metropolitan University

Professor of Psychology Health and Wellbeing, Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. Specialisms in body image and qualitative methods.



Leonie Rothery, Manchester Metropolitan University

BSc Psychology graduate. Expertise in selfie use.

Jenny Cole, Manchester Metropolitan University

Matthew Hall, University of Derby

Associate Academic. Expertise in social psychology, qualitative methods and analysis.




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