Dr Elle Boag, senior lecturer in Social Psychology at Birmingham City University

During the summer, seeing photographs of “papped” celebs at the beach is the mainstay of many a magazines content. However, there is a more recent trend for celebs to be uploading ‘selfies’ onto Instagram, Twitter and other social media sites thereby outsmarting the numerous photographers who must hide behind every rock or palm tree.

In itself, this phenomenon is somewhat amusing as the celebrity is in fact self-promoting and there is less opportunity for paparazzi to make money from their intrusion into celebs lives. However, the images taken all show female celebs in their best light, in the best pose, looking as “hot” as possible, not, ladies and gentlemen in a realistic way. It may be true that celebrity bikini selfies are a better representation of what our celebs really look like (rather than the PhotoShopped images we are used to seeing), but many (if not all) of them are in a financial position to be able to manage their looks in a way that is beyond the realm of possibility for us normal women.

Indeed, the majority of us have lumps and bumps that belie the lives that we live; lives that revolve around caring both for our families and friends and attempting to find (let alone maintain) a work-life balance that affords any time for self-improvement such as going to the gym or sticking to that diet that we are on (again).

So, here we go again on the merry-go-round of celebrity-to-self comparison but rather than comparing ourselves to images that we can psychologically dismiss as “enhanced”, we see celebrity selfies as more “natural” and the subsequent barrage of comments filled with adjectives such as “sexy, hot, amazing, and beautiful” are used as yet another media propagated stick with which to beat ourselves.

Clearly there are individual differences in women’s body confidence and positivity; some women do not compare themselves with others and have a healthy sense of body-esteem. However, others are less fortunate and are highly focused on their self-image and not fulfilling some socially ascribed set of boundaries of beauty, desirability or womanliness simply leads to multiple negative psychological outcomes.

Such women suffer low self- and body-esteem, they look for signs that they are not meeting some self-perceived level of perfection. In turn, these women will try to control how they look via methods such as extreme dieting, body modification (i.e. surgery or other invasive procedure as well as non-invasive procedures), extreme exercising or even purging. However, even if women achieve their goals of physical perfection there are many women who still have deep seated underlying psychological issues that are used to self-flagellate and prevent them from reaping the rewards of strict exercise and eating regimes.

So, what can be done? First, celebrities can take a stand themselves. Selfies from those celebrities who do not fit the norm of size zero and tanned can be uploaded to acknowledge the diversity in shape and form that exist – even in celebrity circles.

Also, celebrities should stand up for themselves, take a stand on size. Follow in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson and Pink who embrace their womanly curves with grace and without fear. Indeed, as Pink so eloquently stated on Twitter she is “perfectly happy healthy and voluptuous” wise words indeed.

There will still be those less than flattering images adorning our summer magazines of celebs with cellulite and wobbly bits, but these images simply normalise those we see as successful and rich – which in turn allows us to feel that we too can aspire to such goals.

Ladies, remember that women are evolved to carry curves and gentlemen remember that having a woman with curves, in the words of Carey Hart (Pink’s husband), “means that there is more to love”.

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