A passion for wellbeing in the Instagram age

It’s a sad fact of life in today’s Instagram age:  Far too many young women consider themselves heavier than their ideal body weight.  And it’s a major cause of health and self-esteem issues in females aged from 18-25.

In the first full-scale study of the effects of Instagram on the health and wellbeing of young women Notre Dame PhD student, Carmen Papaluca, came to this conclusion after assessing more than 550 female university students.

“In addition to the issues around body weight, another significant factor was the discrepancy between participants perceived current body shape and their ideal body shape, which was impacted considerably by their Instagram use and engagement,” said Carmen.

Researchers, educators and health professionals need to keep working on strategies that help young females to see their worth based on facets of their lives other than their physical appearance.

Of major concern to Carmen is the impact of Instagram on adolescents, who were not part of her current study.

“As the participants in my current study were aged between 18-25 we can assume that they have a more mature outlook and life experience than adolescents.   This is worrying when you consider the implications for younger Instagram users,” she said.

As a result of her research as part of her Dr of Philosophy (Health Sciences), Carmen hopes to provide information for schools and policy makers in order to educate and provide health promotion messages to students in primary and secondary school.

"I am extremely passionate about the wellbeing of adolescents and young adults as I believe that there are increasing pressures and expectations facing the younger generations, particularly in the areas of social media, mental health and body image," she added.

Through her research, Carmen hopes to provide information for schools and policy makers in order to educate and provide health promotion messages to students in primary and secondary school.

"As a health professional/researcher I hope to contribute new knowledge about issues affecting young people. Notre Dame's extensive curriculum enabled me to discover this passion, challenging my knowledge and encouraging critical thinking about prevalent health issues in our society," says Notre Dame PhD candidate, Carmen.

Through industry experience, Carmen was able to make a number of professional contacts who inspired her to achieve a high standard of results.

Notre Dame has enabled me to achieve well beyond my own expectations, and I attribute this fully to the unique one-on-one support I have received throughout my post-graduate experience.

"I am constantly amazed by the level of compassion, guidance and encouragement I receive from all staff and my mentors in particular. I have not only been inspired to achieve a high standard of success at Notre Dame, but I have also been supported through a number of adversities along the way. My primary supervisor encouraged my passion for research, empowered me to pursue my aspirations and provided many professional experiences to aid my development."

Inspired? Find out more about Notre Dame's higher degrees by research.