Published in the journal Health Communication, the study interviewed 50 women about the media’s representations of pregnant and postpartum bodies, and the impact these images have on their self esteem.
And although the study had a small sample size, its findings make complete sense.
“Participants felt that media portrayals of women ‘losing all their baby weight’ in a short time frame set unrealistic expectations and did not account for the realities of giving birth, such as hormones, physical healing and the stress of caring for a baby,” lead author Toni Liechty said.
She added that women are particularly concerned about their appearance and vulnerable to low body image during the perinatal period – the time frame shortly before and after giving birth.
Social media, on the other hand, was perceived “as having a unique influence because (these messages were) viewed as coming from ‘real people,’ including friends and family,” Liechty said.
The research highlighted that social media was refreshing to many women, thanks to its opportunities for sharing honest and authentic information.