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Diving Deeper into the Body Positive Community

– Edited on the 4th of September 2020 –

Sourced from Giphy

During this week of exploring the topic of the body positive community on TikTok, I have done some academic research to define which paradigmatic framework I will use to analyse my research. The key terms I used to search for articles that correspond with the body positive community were ‘body image’, ‘online activism’ and ‘media effect on body image’. Down bellow are four summaries of journal articles that I found useful;

‘Body Image and Media Use Among Adolescents’ by Bayer, A & Borzekowski, D in 2005:

  • This journal article reflects several different aspects that fall under the topic of body image and its impact on individuals’ (mostly adolescents) mental and physical health. It explores how women are comparing their bodies to the unrealistic body types displayed in the media, that are sometimes only attained through cosmetic surgery. Also, men observe a body type accepted by the media through print and television models and some successful actors. It also explores the horrific trend of praising eating disorders amongst adolescents who wish to attain certain figures.

‘The Impact of Media Exposure on Males’ Body Image’ by Agliata, D &Tantleff-Dunn, S in 2004:

  • This journal article focuses on the impact of media on the body images of males. It explores how most of what is displayed in the media is unrealistic and is becoming increasingly unattainable, leading to depression and low wellbeing upon males. This study also explores the nature of this relationship between viewers and the media and how much the media has the power to manipulate how individuals see themselves and their image.

‘Add a comment … how fitspiration and body positive captions attached to social media images influence the mood and body esteem of young female Instagram users’ by Davies, B, Turner, M & Udell, J in 2018:

  • This journal article also explores the negative impacts that the media has on individuals confidence and wellbeing, more so when it comes to ‘fit-inspiration’ styled posts on social media. It explored the hypothesised concept of how certain posts that express unrealistic images of fit bodies or weight loss routines can reinforce negative emotions or thoughts upon viewers. Whereas if there were more posts on social media that promote acceptance for any body type there would be more positive and happier reactions from viewers.

‘Cyberactivism, Online Activism in Theory and Practice’ by Ayers, M & McMaughey, M in 2003:

  • This study looks into the nature of online activism, also known as ‘cyber-activism’, and how individuals on social media can make a topic of conversation trending in a matter of hours or days. Cyber-activism can create communities were individuals come together through their believes and morals. It can be assumed that this is how the body positive community on TikTok has been able to grow and created different trends and hashtags.

With the help of these articles I have decided that I will look into the sense of community in the body-positive side of TikTok and how instead of negative connotations to different body images, this community attempts to create more positive reactions towards TikTok users. How is this sense of community and positivity attained? How does TikTok assist in growing the community?


Before I start my study, I must consider how I can remain an ethical researcher. As Harley and Langdon (2018, p. 191) stated, all researchers need to consider ethical issues in relation to both the process of doing the research, and its product. Down below, I brainstormed some ethical issues that may arise within both the process of my study and the product of my study (including my digital artefact), with proposed ideas on how to reduce the risk of ethical misstep.

  • I need to be extra careful with the tone and language I use to describe what content I am watching on TikTok. Certain topics come up in the body positive community that can be sensitive and discuss topics of hardships such as bullying and mental illnesses. It was mentioned by Mertens (2014, p. 514) that a researcher named Ellis struggled to define what was ethically correct to add to her research and as a resolution she engages in self-reflection and confines with colleagues about her issue. With this in mind, I will seek assistance from my tutor if an ethical issue arises and also try my best to avoid using certain descriptive words or terminology that would be defined as triggering or insensitive. If the subject is triggering, I will leave a warning, or not describe it at all. I would just mention that a certain video or comment contained triggering content. This is my attempt to stay ethical but also remain honest to any readers of my research.
  • I need to be mindful when discussing negative aspects in the community, such as hate comments. For example, some videos that display certain body types that aren’t normally deemed beautiful in the media, may have insulting or negative comments. I will not use or mention any language or slang that is offensive or triggering. Like the ethics issue above, if the subject is to be triggering, I will leave a warning, or not describe it at all, just mention that a certain comment mentioned contains triggering content. 
  • Exposing information that should be left anonymous, such as an individuals’ personal information, including creators’ TikTok accounts. To avoid this, I will blur out any names or signs of personal identity in any screenshots used. 
  • Writing inaccurate information; for example, describing the content of my experience in a way that is inaccurate or holds false information to mislead the audience. This could also be a result of being biased. I will make sure I don’t inaccurately describe something in my analysis by taking extensive field notes, including audio recordings and written notes. I will also disclaim whether I have followed or already follow a creator because I favour their content. This is to reduce the risk of bias.

Up next will be my pitch of my overall auto-ethnography research plan, so stay tuned!

Reference List

Agliata, D &Tantleff-Dunn, S 2004, ‘THE IMPACT OF MEDIA EXPOSURE ON
MALES’ BODY IMAGE’, Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol.
23, No. 1, 2004, pp. 7-22.

Ayers, M & McMaughey, M 2003, Cyberactivism, Online Acitivism in
Theory and Practice,
Routledge, New York.

Babel, T
2016, [Giph of purple laptop], online video, 7 November, Giphy, viewed 3
September 2020, <
https://giphy.com/gifs/analytics-pixelmonkeys-tony-babel-l46Cy1rHbQ92uuLXa&gt;.

Bayer, A & Borzekowski, D 2005, ‘Body Image and Media Use Among
Adolescents’, Adolescents Medicine Clinics, vol. 16, pp. 289-313.

Davies, B, Turner, M & Udell, J 2018, ‘Add a comment … how fitspiration
and body positive captions attached to social media images influence the mood
and body esteem of young female Instagram users’, Body Image, vol. 33,
no.1, pp. 101-105.

Harley, A & Langdon, J 2018, ‘Ethics and Power in Visual
Research Methods’, in Ron Iphofen and Martin Tolich (ed.), The Sage Handbook
of Qualitative Research Ethics,
Sage, London, pp. 188-202.

Mertens, D 2014, ‘Ethical Use of Qualitative Data and
Findings’, in Use Flick (ed.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data
Analysis,
Sage, Los Angeles, pp. 510-523.

Picerno, L 2018, Some body positivity for this Friday, image,
Instagram, viewed 31 August 2020, <https://www.instagram.com/p/BgrQT2gh8tG/&gt;.

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Published by Kirstywordpress

University student - Graphic design

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