The Contribution of Social Media to Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorder Symptoms, and Anabolic Steroid Use Among Sexual Minority Men Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Social media has been associated with body dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms among young women and adolescent girls. However, despite notable evidence of susceptibility to body image pressures, it remains unknown whether these associations generalize to sexual minority men. A nationwide sample of 2,733 sexual minority men completed an online survey advertised to Australian and New Zealand users of a popular dating app. Participants answered questions about how frequently they used 11 different social media platforms in addition to questions about their dating app use, body image, eating disorder symptoms, and anabolic steroids. Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and Snapchat were the most frequently used social media platforms. A pattern of small-sized and positive associations emerged between social media use and body dissatisfaction, eating disorder symptoms, and thoughts about using anabolic steroids. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat evidenced the strongest associations. The associations of social media use with both muscularity dissatisfaction and eating disorder symptoms were stronger for image-centric social media platforms (e.g., Instagram) than nonimage-centric platforms (e.g., Wordpress); no differences were observed for body fat dissatisfaction, height dissatisfaction, or thoughts about using anabolic steroids. Previously documented associations of social media use with body dissatisfaction and related variables among women and girls appear to generalize to sexual minority men. Social media platforms that more centrally involve imagery may be of greater concern than nonimage-centric platforms. Additional research with sexual minority men is needed to elucidate the distinctions between adaptive and maladaptive social media use in the context of body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, and anabolic steroid use.

publication date

  • 2018