The present study examined whether body talk on social networking sites (SNSs) was positively associated with body surveillance and body shame and whether body surveillance would mediate the relationship between body talk on SNSs and body shame. We also tested whether the links from body talk on SNSs to body surveillance and body shame would be moderated by self-compassion. Furthermore, the moderating role of gender in the mediation model was examined. The model was tested with 194 female and 119 male Chinese university students who completed questionnaires regarding body talk on SNSs, body surveillance, body shame, and self-compassion. Results indicated that body talk on SNSs was positively related to body surveillance and body shame. The relationship between body talk on SNSs and body shame was mediated by body surveillance. Furthermore, self-compassion moderated the association between body talk on SNSs and body shame. No gender difference was found in the mediation model. Findings from the current study provide new insights into the development of objectified body consciousness among women, as well as among men, and highlight the potential value of promoting self-compassion in the prevention of body image concerns.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
An, X. (2017). Social networking site uses, internalization, body surveillance, social comparison and body dissatisfaction of males and females in mainland China. Asian Journal of Communication, 27(6), 616–630. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292986.2017.1365914.
Andrew, R., Tiggemann, M., & Clark, L. (2016). Predicting body appreciation in young women: An integrated model of positive body image. Body Image, 18, 34–42. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.003.
Arroyo, A., & Brunner, S. R. (2016). Negative body talk as an outcome of friends’ fitness posts on social networking sites: Body surveillance and social comparison as potential moderators. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 44(3), 216–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2016.1192293.
Aubrey, J. S. (2007). The impact of sexually objectifying media exposure on negative body emotions and sexual self-perceptions: Investigating the mediating role of body self-consciousness. Mass Communication & Society, 10(1), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/15205430709337002.
Baym, N. K. (2015). Personal connections in the digital age. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Braun, T. D., Park, C. L., & Gorin, A. (2016). Self-compassion, body image, and disordered eating: A review of the literature. Body Image, 17, 117–131. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.03.003.
China Internet Network Information Center. (2019). The 43rdChina statistical report on internet development. Retrived from https://www.cnnic.net.cn/hlwfzyj/hlwxzbg/hlwtjbg/201902/P020190318523029756345.pdf. Accessed 10 Jul 2019
Chow, C. M., & Tan, C. C. (2016). Weight status, negative body talk, and body dissatisfaction: A dyadic analysis of male friends. Journal of Health Psychology, 21(8), 1597–1606. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105314559621.
Clarke, M. P., Murnen, S. K., & Smolak, L. (2010). Development and psychometric evaluation of a quantitative measure of “fat talk”. Body Image, 7(1), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.09.006.
Daniel, S., & Bridges, S. K. (2010). The drive for muscularity in men: Media influences and objectification theory. Body Image, 7(1), 32–38. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.08.003.
Daye, C. A., Webb, J. B., & Jafari, N. (2014). Exploring self-compassion as a refuge against recalling the body-related shaming of caregiver eating messages on dimensions of objectified body consciousness in college women. Body Image, 11(4), 547–556. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.08.001.
Engeln, R., Sladek, M. R., & Waldron, H. (2013). Body talk among college men: Content, correlates, and effects. Body Image, 10(3), 300–308. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.02.001.
Engeln-Maddox, R., Salk, R. H., & Miller, S. A. (2012). Assessing women's negative commentary on their own bodies: A psychometric investigation of the Negative Body Talk Scale. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 36(2), 162–178. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684312441593.
Fardouly, J., Willburger, B. K., & Vartanian, L. R. (2018). Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways. New Media & Society, 20(4), 1380–1395. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817694499.
Feltman, C. E., & Szymanski, D. M. (2018). Instagram use and self-objectification: The roles of internalization, comparison, appearance commentary, and feminism. Sex Roles, 78(5–6), 311–324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-017-0796-1.
Ferreira, C., Pinto-Gouveia, J., & Duarte, C. (2013). Self-compassion in the face of shame and body image dissatisfaction: Implications for eating disorders. Eating Behaviors, 14(2), 207–210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2013.01.005.
Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. A. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173–206. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x.
Gilbert, P. (2009). Introducing compassion-focused therapy. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 15(3), 199–208. https://doi.org/10.1192/apt.bp.107.005264.
Grabe, S., Hyde, J. S., & Lindberg, S. M. (2007). Body objectification and depression in adolescents: The role of gender, shame, and rumination. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 31(2), 164–175. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2007.00350.x.
Hart, E., Chow, C. M., & Tan, O. C. (2017). Body talk, weight status, and pathological eating behavior in romantic relationships. Appetite, 117, 135–142. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.06.012.
Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.
Homan, K. J., & Tylka, T. L. (2015). Self-compassion moderates body comparison and appearance self-worth's inverse relationships with body appreciation. Body Image, 15, 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.04.007.
Jackson, T., & Chen, H. (2015a). Features of objectified body consciousness and sociocultural perspectives as risk factors for disordered eating among late-adolescent women and men. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(4), 741–752. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000096.
Jackson, T., & Chen, H. (2015b). Predictors of cosmetic surgery consideration among young Chinese women and men. Sex Roles, 73(5–6), 214–230. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-015-0514-9.
Jackson, T., Zheng, P., & Chen, H. (2016). Features of objectified body consciousness and sociocultural perspectives as predictors of eating and body image disturbances among young women and men in China. Journal of Gender Studies, 25(5), 599–612. https://doi.org/10.1080/09589236.2015.1073144.
Johnson, E. A., & O'Brien, K. A. (2013). Self-compassion soothes the savage ego-threat system: Effects on negative affect, shame, rumination, and depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 32(9), 939–963. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2013.32.9.939.
Jones, D. C., & Crawford, J. K. (2006). The peer appearance culture during adolescence: Gender and body mass variations. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 35(2), 243–255. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-005-9006-5.
Jones, D. C., Vigfusdottir, T. H., & Lee, Y. (2004). Body image and the appearance culture among adolescent girls and boys: An examination of friend conversations, peer criticism, appearance magazines, and the internalization of appearance ideals. Journal of Adolescent Research, 19(3), 323–339. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558403258847.
Knauss, C., Paxton, S. J., & Alsaker, F. D. (2008). Body dissatisfaction in adolescent boys and girls: Objectified body consciousness, internalization of the media body ideal and perceived pressure from media. Sex Roles, 59(9–10), 633–643. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9474-7.
Lindberg, S. M., Grabe, S., & Hyde, J. S. (2007). Gender, pubertal development, and peer sexual harassment predict objectified body consciousness in early adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17(4), 723–742. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-7795.2007.00544.x.
Liss, M., & Erchull, M. J. (2015). Not hating what you see: Self-compassion may protect against negative mental health variables connected to self-objectification in college women. Body Image, 14, 5–12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.02.006.
Manago, A. M., Ward, L. M., Lemm, K. M., Reed, L., & Seabrook, R. (2015). Facebook involvement, objectified body consciousness, body shame, and sexual assertiveness in college women and men. Sex Roles, 72(1–2), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0441-1.
McKinley, N. M. (1995). Women and objectified body consciousness: A feminist psychological analysis (Doctoral dissertation). Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison.
McKinley, N. M. (1998). Gender differences in undergraduates' body esteem: The mediating effect of objectified body consciousness and actual/ideal weight discrepancy. Sex Roles, 39(1–2), 113–123. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018834001203.
McKinley, N. M. (2006). Longitudinal gender differences in objectified body consciousness and weight-related attitudes and behaviors: Cultural and developmental contexts in the transition from college. Sex Roles, 54(3–4), 159–173. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9335-1.
McKinley, N. M., & Hyde, J. S. (1996). The Objectified Body Consciousness Scale: Development and validation. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(2), 181–215. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.1996.tb00467.x.
Mercurio, A. E., & Landry, L. J. (2008). Self-objectification and well-being: The impact of self-objectification on women’s overall sense of self-worth and life satisfaction. Sex Roles, 58(7–8), 458–466. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-007-9357-3.
Mills, J., & Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M. (2016). Fat talk and its relationship with body image disturbance. Body Image, 18, 61–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.05.001.
Mills, J., & Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, M. (2017). Fat talk and body image disturbance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 41(1), 114–129. https://doi.org/10.1177/0361684316675317.
Modica, C. (2019). Facebook, body esteem, and body surveillance in adult women: The moderating role of self-compassion and appearance-contingent self-worth. Body Image, 29, 17–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.02.002.
Moradi, B. (2010). Addressing gender and cultural diversity in body image: Objectification theory as a framework for integrating theories and grounding research. Sex Roles, 63(1–2), 138–148. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9824-0.
Moradi, B., & Huang, Y. P. (2008). Objectification theory and psychology of women: A decade of advances and futre directions. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32(4), 377–398. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-6402.2008.00452.x.
Moradi, B., & Varnes, J. R. (2017). Structure of the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale: Reevaluated 20 years later. Sex Roles, 77(5–6), 325–337. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-016-0731-x.
Moradi, B., Dirks, D., & Matteson, A. V. (2005). Roles of sexual objectification experiences and internalization of standards of beauty in eating disorder symptomatology: A test and extension of objectification theory. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(3), 420–428. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-022.214.171.1240.
Mosewich, A. D., Kowalski, K. C., Sabiston, C. M., Sedgwick, W. A., & Tracy, J. L. (2011). Self-compassion: A potential resource for young women athletes. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 33(1), 103–123. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsep.33.1.103.
Moya-Garófano, A., & Moya, M. (2019). Focusing on one’s own appearance leads to body shame in women but not men: The mediating role of body surveillance and appearance-contingent self-worth. Body Image, 29, 58–64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.02.008.
Neff, K. D. (2003a). The development and validation of a scale to measure self-compassion. Self and Identity, 2(3), 223–250. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860309027.
Neff, K. D. (2003b). Self-compassion: An alternative conceptualization of a healthy attitude toward oneself. Self and Identity, 2(2), 85–101. https://doi.org/10.1080/15298860309032.
Neff, K. D. (2016). The self-compassion scale is a valid and theoretically coherent measure of self-compassion. Mindfulness, 7(1), 264–274. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-015-0479-3.
Neff, K. D., Rude, S. S., & Kirkpatrick, K. L. (2007). An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality, 41(4), 908–916. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2006.08.002.
Nichter, M., & Vuckovic, N. (1994). Fat talk: Body image among adolescent girls Many mirrors: Body image and social relations. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
Plastic Surgery Practice. (2017). About face: China’s plastic surgery market grows six times faster than global average. Retrieved from http://www.plasticsurgerypractice.com/2017/08/about-face-chinas-plastic-surgery-market-grows-six-times-faster-than-global-average/. Accessed 24 Feb 2019
Pries, L. (2013). New transnational social spaces: International migration and transnational companies in the early twenty-first century. Oxford: Routledge.
Raes, F., Pommier, E., Neff, K. D., & Van Gucht, D. (2011). Construction and factorial validation of a short form of the Self-compassion Scale. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, 18(3), 250–255. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.702.
Rodgers, R. F., Franko, D. L., Donovan, E., Cousineau, T., Yates, K., McGowan, K., ... Lowy, A. S. (2017). Body image in emerging adults: The protective role of self-compassion. Body Image, 22, 148–155. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2017.07.003
Rodgers, R. F., Donovan, E., Cousineau, T., Yates, K., McGowan, K., Cook, E., ... Franko, D. L. (2018). BodiMojo: Efficacy of a mobile-based intervention in improving body image and self-compassion among adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 47(7) 1363–1372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-017-0804-3
Royal, S., Macdonald, D. E., & Dionne, M. M. (2013). Development and validation of the Fat Talk Questionnaire. Body Image, 10(1), 62–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2012.10.003.
Rudiger, J. A., & Winstead, B. A. (2013). Body talk and body-related co-rumination: Associations with body image, eating attitudes, and psychological adjustment. Body Image, 10(4), 462–471. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.07.010.
Sirois, F. M., Kitner, R., & Hirsch, J. K. (2015). Self-compassion, affect, and health-promoting behaviors. Health Psychology, 34(6), 661–669. https://doi.org/10.1037/hea0000158.
Slater, A., & Tiggemann, M. (2002). A test of objectification theory in adolescent girls. Sex Roles, 46(9–10), 343–349. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020232714705.
Slater, A., & Tiggemann, M. (2010). Body image and disordered eating in adolescent girls and boys: A test of objectification theory. Sex Roles, 63(1–2), 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9794-2.
Statitca. (2019). Number of social network users in selected countries in 2018 and 2023 (in millions). Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/278341/number-of-social-network-users-in-selected-countries/. Accessed 20 Mar 2019
Sun, Q. Q. (2018). Materialism, self-objectification, and capitalization of sexual attractiveness increase young Chinese women's willingness to consider cosmetic surgery. Frontiers in Psychology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02002.
Szymanski, D. M., Moffitt, L. B., & Carr, E. R. (2011). Sexual objectification of women: Advances to theory and research. The Counseling Psychologist, 39(1), 6–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000010378402.
Thompson, J. K., & Stice, E. (2001). Thin-ideal internalization: Mounting evidence for a new risk factor for body-image disturbance and eating pathology. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10(5), 181–183. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8721.00144.
Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2015). The role of self-objectification in the mental health of early adolescent girls: Predictors and consequences. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 40(7), 704–711. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/jsv021.
Tiggemann, M., & Zaccardo, M. (2015). “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women's body image. Body Image, 15, 61–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.06.003.
Tiggemann, M., Hayden, S., Brown, Z., & Veldhuis, J. (2018). The effect of Instagram “likes” on women’s social comparison and body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 26, 90–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.07.002.
Tylka, T. L., & Hill, M. S. (2004). Objectification theory as it relates to disordered eating among college women. Sex Roles, 51(11–12), 719–730. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-004-0721-2.
Tylka, T. L., & Sabik, N. J. (2010). Integrating social comparison theory and self-esteem within objectification theory to predict women’s disordered eating. Sex Roles, 63(1–2), 18–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-010-9785-3.
Tylka, T. L., Russell, H. L., & Neal, A. A. (2015). Self-compassion as a moderator of thinness-related pressures' associations with thin-ideal internalization and disordered eating. Eating Behaviors, 17, 23–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.12.009.
Vandenbosch, L., & Eggermont, S. (2016). The interrelated roles of mass media and social media in adolescents’ development of an objectified self-concept: A longitudinal study. Communication Research, 43(8), 1116–1140. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650215600488.
Walker, M., Thornton, L., De Choudhury, M., Teevan, J., Bulik, C. M., Levinson, C. A., … Zerwas, S. (2015). Facebook use and disordered eating in college-aged women. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(2), 157–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.04.026
Wang, Y., Fan, L., Zhu, Y., Yang, J., Wang, C., Gu, L., ... Zhou, H. (2019). Neurogenetic mechanisms of self-compassionate mindfulness: The role of oxytocin-receptor genes. Mindfulness. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01141-7
Wasylkiw, L., Mackinnon, A. L., & Maclellan, A. M. (2012). Exploring the link between self-compassion and body image in university women. Body Image, 9(2), 236–245. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2012.01.007.
Webb, J. B., Fiery, M. F., & Jafari, N. (2016). "you better not leave me shaming!": Conditional indirect effect analyses of anti-fat attitudes, body shame, and fat talk as a function of self-compassion in college women. Body Image, 18, 5–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.04.009.
Wen, H. (2013). Buying beauty: Cosmetic surgery in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Woods, H., & Proeve, M. (2014). Relationships of mindfulness, self-compassion, and meditation experience with shame-proneness. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 28(1), 20–33. https://doi.org/10.1891/0889-83126.96.36.199.
Yang, X., & Mak, W. W. (2017). The differential moderating roles of self-compassion and mindfulness in self-stigma and well-being among people living with mental illness or HIV. Mindfulness, 8(3), 595–602. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-016-0635-4.
Yang, Y., Guo, Z., Kou, Y., & Liu, B. (2019). Linking self-compassion and prosocial behavior in adolescents: The mediating roles of relatedness and trust. Child Indicators Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-019-9623-2
Zessin, U., Dickhäuser, O., & Garbade, S. (2015). The relationship between self-compassion and well-being: A meta-analysis. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-being, 7(3), 340–364. https://doi.org/10.1111/aphw.12051.
Zhang, J. (2012). Archival representation in the digital age. Journal of Archival Organization, 10(1), 45–68. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332748.2012.677671.
The present study was supported by the fund for building world-class universities (disciplines) of Renmin University of China.
The authors thank Dr. Xiaochun Xie for helpful advice on this manuscript and Jia Nie, Yuan Fang, Jinjin Guo, Jiayi Wang, Lipeng Yin and Jie Long for assistance in data collection and data entry.
This study was supported by fund for building world-class universities (disciplines) of Renmin University of China.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed were in accordance with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards and ethical approval was obtained from Ethics Committee of Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Wang, Y., Wang, X., Yang, J. et al. Body Talk on Social Networking Sites, Body Surveillance, and Body Shame among Young Adults: The Roles of Self-Compassion and Gender. Sex Roles 82, 731–742 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-019-01084-2
- Body talk on SNSs
- Body surveillance
- Body shame
- Gender differences