Mhairi Rothery

Research Project

Unraveling the Effects of Social Media on Beauty Perceptions


My name is Mhairi Rothery and I am a fourth-year Professional Communications Student pursuing my undergraduate at Toronto Metropolitan University. As a passionate researcher in the realm of social media and mental health, I delve deep into the interplay between social media and individual perceptions of beauty. My academic journey has been driven by a deep curiosity to understand how digital platforms shape our ideals, behaviours, and self-perceptions.

My fascination with the impact of social media on beauty perceptions was sparked during my undergraduate. Through coursework and hands-on research experiences, I have worked to unravel the complex dynamics at play in our digitally mediated society. Throughout my research, I worked to contribute to a nuanced understanding of the digital landscape’s impact on well-being. By shedding light on the complexities of beauty standards in the age of social media, I hope my research can inform interventions and policies aimed at promoting healthier self-concepts and fostering more inclusive online environments.

I am excited to share my findings and engage in conversation with fellow individuals who may be passionate about understanding and addressing the impact of social media on beauty perceptions. Together, we can work towards creating a more equitable and compassionate digital landscape for generations to come.

Research Summary

Social media is a multifaceted platform that pervasively influences the shift within human interactions as well as how we communicate, view, and perceive the world we are living in. Social media has emerged as a powerful influencer that has both reshaped and redefined the concept of beauty within society, acting as a catalyst in shaping societal standards for what beauty “should” look like. This study seeks to examine the effects of social media, specifically TikTok, on self-esteem, as well as how algorithms on these platforms shape the content users encounter daily. To capture a nuanced understanding of this research, our methodology will consist of multi-modal analysis and text analysis of social media habits, beauty-related consumption, algorithms, and self-esteem.

What consumers are exposed to through media platforms and their preferences for media consumption are key aspects that shape their concepts of beauty, in addition to the ideologies of social media having a fundamental influence on societal beauty standards. Social media’s transformation has given rise to complex societal beauty standards, often blurring the lines between reality and curated personas creating a phenomenon that desires significant recognition.

Understanding the intricate relationships between social media, algorithms, and the concepts of beauty can promote diverse strategies for inclusion through the representation of beauty on social media. Our research is driven by the concept that through algorithms, content that is viewed on social media contributes to homogenized beauty standards, affecting individuals psychologically and emotionally. With filtered data results from TikTok, we worked to understand statistical trends across various factors of social media usage, such as age, interests, usage time, lighting, filters, etc. Deductive coding allowed us to test our initial hypothesis in a structured, systemic approach. This data analysis from TikTok gave us tangible numbers that we can use to extrapolate more general statistics about social media usage amongst young women. Through analysis, we navigated the complex landscape of how social media affects the concept of beauty and how interacting with certain types of content can reinforce this stereotype of what it looks like to be beautiful through thematic breakdowns of social media trends, editing and photoshop, negative sense of self, representation, and algorithms.

Research Poster

Lightning Talk

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