Male Body Image Portrayals on Instagram

Thomas Gültzow*, Jeanine Guidry, Francine Schneider, Ciska Hoving

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Men are faced with trends that give rise to the desire for a muscular and lean body; this may result in body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction is associated with a plethora of health consequences. Social media has been named as one contributing factor for male body dissatisfaction. Up till now, women have been the focus of body image-related social media studies. Therefore, we conducted a quantitative content analysis of 1,000 relevant Instagram posts that were posted by men (and/or depicted men) to understand how the male body is depicted on Instagram and how user respond to those images. The majority of sampled posts showed high levels of muscularity and leanness. In addition, posts depicting men adhering to this specific body type received significantly more responses (likes and comments). Norms and outcomes related to health (i.e., training to be healthy) were more commonly shown than appearance-related constructs (i.e., training to become attractive), and promotion of physical activity was more common than dietary behavior. However, findings are potential harmful to men's body image, even if one considers that health-related messaging and physical active promotion was prominent. It remains debatable if men need to view very lean and very muscular to encourage health-related behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalCyberpsychology Behavior and Social Networking
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes


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