Instagram Use and Endorsement of a Voluptuous Body Ideal: A Serial Mediation Model

Ana Belmonte, K. Megan Hopper, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most studies on the effects of social media on young women’s ideal body image and self-perceptions are focused on the exposure to thinness and/or fitness portrayals that emphasize the thin ideal. However, today’s digital content exhibits the ideal female body as a hybrid of physical characteristics such as an hourglass figure consisting of full breasts, thin waists, and large buttocks of well-known celebrities (or influencers) on social media and specifically on the social media platform, Instagram. A fusion of attributes from Kim Kardashian, Scarlet Johansson, and other curvy celebrities reflects the “ideal body” that is voluptuous rather than thin all over. Like the ultra thin ideal, this voluptuous ideal body represents a physical figure that is impossible to achieve for most women. Based on sociocultural theory Thompson et al. (1999) and social comparison theory Festinger (1954), the present study surveyed 189 emerging adult women’s use of Instagram and employed a three-stage serial mediational model of Instagram use and endorsement of the voluptuous body ideal. Results found intensity of Instagram use to be linked to viewing Instagram as a source of information and pressure, which was then linked to participants making more appearance-related comparisons and greater endorsement of a voluptuous body type as ideal. Our study indicates the thin ideal is not the only harmful and influential pressure on women’s body image and supports our argument that the influence of the voluptuous body types should not be overlooked by researchers as well as therapists, counselors, and educators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSex Roles
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Appearance-related comparisons
  • Body image
  • Celebrity influencers
  • Curvy ideal
  • Instagram
  • Social comparison theory
  • Sociocultural theory
  • Voluptuous body ideal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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