Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Social comparison, fitspiration, internalized pressure, body dissatisfaction, eating disorder risk

Major Advisor

Dr. Carolyn Lin

Associate Advisor

Dr. John Christensen

Associate Advisor

Dr. Amanda Denes

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


Popular social media platforms such as Instagram are littered with images of men with muscular bodies and women with fit-thin bodies, commonly known as “fitspiration” images. Limited research has examined the influence of viewing these fitspiration images on Instagram on body- image perceptions of followers. The present study explores the potential effects of these Instagram hot-body stars on college students’ body image perception and eating disorder risk. Specifically, it is hypothesized that individual’s social comparison trait, internalization and self- esteem will moderate the effects of exposure to fitspiration images. In addition, affective arousal factors such as sadness and contempt are hypothesized to predict body dissatisfaction, which in turn will predict eating disorder risk. Findings demonstrate that viewing fit-thin images resulted in body dissatisfaction moderated by social comparison trait, and self-esteem among women. Muscular-ideal images, however, did not yield similar results among men. Both men and women who viewed fitspiration images experienced negative emotions. Results suggest that these seemingly innocent images of men and women engaging in healthy activities can have negative impact such as body dissatisfaction and increase the risk of eating disorder among viewers. Implications of these results are discussed in detail.

Available for download on Tuesday, July 19, 2022