The effect of #enhancement-free Instagram images and hashtags on women's body image

Marika Tiggemann, Ksenia Zinoviev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


Instagram is a popular social networking site where users can post and share photos. One increasing trend on the site is the posting of natural and unaltered images. The present study aimed to experimentally investigate the effect of enhancement-free (i.e., no makeup, no digital alteration) Instagram images and their accompanying hashtags on women's body image. Participants were 204 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to view one of three sets of Instagram images: standard (i.e., idealised) images, enhancement-free images, or the same set of enhancement-free images with hashtags indicating their enhancement-free nature. As predicted, exposure to enhancement-free images resulted in significantly lower facial dissatisfaction than exposure to the standard images. However, the addition of hashtags resulted in significantly greater facial dissatisfaction than the same enhancement-free images with no hashtags. There were no significant effects for body dissatisfaction. Effects on facial dissatisfaction were moderated by self-photo manipulation, whereby the difference between standard and enhancement-free images was greater for women who digitally manipulate their own photos. Overall, the findings suggest that, under some conditions, enhancement-free images have the potential to protect Instagram users against appearance concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalBody Image
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Body image
  • Body positive
  • Digital alteration
  • Instagram
  • Selfie
  • Social media


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