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self esteem

So, at this stage we're all well aware of the negative impact social media can have on our mental health.

Whether we're drooling over someone else's lunch, or pining after that leather jacket we'll never be able to afford, a quick scroll through our social feeds can sometimes leave us feeling, well, just a bit fed up really.

However, new research has shown that a five-minute Facebook session could actually boost your self-esteem.

For the study, led by Dr Zaheer Hussein, Lecturer in Psychology at Derby University, 163 participants, aged between 18 – 24, were asked to complete a survey before and after a short scroll through Facebook.

Results showed that a person's stress level played a huge part in how they conducted the social media session, with higher stress levels leading to more intense use.

What's more, researchers found a 'significant' increase in self-esteem when participants used the social network for five-minutes, once a day.

Dr Hussain said: “A five-minute Facebook session can immediately result in increased levels of self-esteem. This may be because users who browsed their close friends, chatted with them, or viewed positive content on social networking sites would display a momentary increase in self-esteem.”

Basically, five-minutes is the optimum time for a feel-good scroll, because after that, you're likely to get sucked thorugh a spiralling wormhole only to reappear two hours hours later, halfway through a photo album your ex uploaded in 2014 – which, let's face it, isn't a good look for anyone.

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In the society we live in, we put a lot down to social media and the connections we make from it.

And as much as we think that getting ALL the 'likes' on social media is a good thing, it doesn't actually make people feel any better about themselves.

A recent study carried out at the University of South Wales found that 'likes' don't really reflect how we feel at all.

340 participants took part in the study which involved a questionnaire being sent out via Facebook and Twitter.

Silver Iphone 5s on Brown Wooden Table

In the questionnaire, they were asked to record how much they agreed or disagreed with various statements.

So, for example, they were asked to agree or disagree with, 'the attention I get from social media makes me feel good' or 'I consider someone popular based on the amount of likes they get'.

The study also found that people who ask for 'likes' or buy them are seen to have low self-esteem and trust issues.

The same is true for those who delete a picture if it doesn't receive many 'likes' (but come on, we're all a little bit guilty of that).

Person Holding Iphone

The overall result found that 'likes' on social media doesn't actually make a person feel better about themselves or give them any added confidence.

Dr Graff , who conducted the study, said: "The proliferation of social media use has led to general concerns about the effects on our mental health. 

"Although this is just a relatively small scale study the results indicate that the ways we interact with social media can affect how we feel and not always positively."

We think hanging out with mates over a bottle of vino or having some family time is so much better than 'likes' on Facebook. Do you agree?

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Bum too big, boobs too small, stomach too flabby? We all have our own complaints when it comes to our looks, but it seems Ireland’s self-esteem issue goes far deeper than that.

A shocking four in ten (45%) of us Irish women are unhappy with our appearance, with the need to lose weight and tone up topping the list of issues getting us down.

That’s according to SHEmazing!’s new Cosmetic Beauty research, which saw 994 females give their opinions on beauty, ageing and the intense pressure on women in this country to look good.

Unsurprisingly, many of those surveyed said they felt worst about their appearance when scrolling through social media or looking at images of celebrities – something anyone who uses Instagram or Snapchat on a regular basis can no doubt relate to.

A staggering 95% of women say they feel social media adds to the pressure on us females to look a certain way, while 70% say the celebrity culture is to blame.

Speaking about the “worrying” figures, SHEmazing!’s Susan Vickers suggests it’s time we stopped taking what we see online at face value.

"Young women’s newsfeeds are flooded with images of glamorous celebrities and their luxurious lifestyles… but these images are often captured by professionals using clever lighting techniques and even Photoshopping."

Of course, it’s not just our online habits denting our self-esteem – sometimes the pressure comes from much closer to home. Indeed, one in four women (26%) say they work in an industry where the pressure is on to look their best at all times.

With strain on us from so many outside factors, it’s no surprise that three in four women (75%) say they would consider some form of cosmetic procedure in the future.

Highest on the list of non-surgical procedures us Irish ladies would be open to are laser hair removal, anti-wrinkle injections like Botox and chemical skin peels.

And as for going under the knife, almost a third of women (31%) would consider getting a breast lift, and 22% would get a tummy tuck to tighten up the ab area.

If you are considering getting a procedure, Susan advises making safety your primary concern. "Worryingly, our research revealed that 34% of young women would travel abroad to source procedures at cheaper rates," she says.

"We strongly advise any women thinking of travelling abroad to research the cosmetic industry in that country, the surgeon and the clinic to ensure they are reputable.

"Remember, this is your body and you only get one."

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At the height of her Instagram fame, Australian teen Essena O'Neill was making upwards of €1,500 a post, with over 600,000 followers hanging on her every word.

But after three years of faking it, the 18-year-old has finally had enough.

On October 27 she deleted 2,000 photos from her feed, leaving only a handful – with the captions re-edited to show the grim truth behind them all.

One photo of her lying by a pool studying while wearing a bikini was once captioned, "Things are getting pretty wild at my house. Maths B and English in the sun."

Now it reads, "See how relatable my captions were – stomach sucked in, strategic pose, pushed up boobs.

"I just want younger girls to know this isn’t candid life, or cool or inspirational. It’s contrived perfection made to get attention."

As well as skipping meals, exercising "excessively" and "barely eating" to stay slim, Essena says she was hugely insecure and felt her body was her only asset.

Another photo of her sitting on the beach reads, "NOT REAL LIFE – took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals."

The teen says she often took hundreds of photos, editing her selfies in various different apps until they looked exactly how she wanted them to.

Referring to a snap which shows her pulling her t-shirt up to reveal her toned stomach, Essena admits the photo was "the only thing that made me feel good that day."

As well as revealing the insecurities behind the seemingly carefree images, Essena has pointed out various photos she only posted to earn money.

"NOT REAL LIFE – paid $$$ to promote both the jeans and top," she wrote next to a "candid" shot of herself looking out to sea wearing jeans and a black top.

"Any girl with a lot of followers promoting a bikini brand is paid, I would say 99% of the time," she wrote next to another. 

"If they tag a company 99% of the time it's paid."

To further explain her decision to come clean, Essena has set up a website, Lets Be Game Changers, where she has been posting daily vlogs.

"Anyone who spends hours and hours on a screen wishing they could have a 'perfect' life, this is for you," she writes. 

"There is nothing cool about spending all your time taking edited pictures of yourself to prove to the world 'you are enough.'"

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In today's world, we're all guilty of shameful social media habits

Have you taken a million and one seflies just to find the right one to post on Instagram? Yep, thought so. 

Or, what about posting a status on Facebook, only to take it down 20 minutes later because it didn't get any 'likes'?

We all have social media habits we need to stop, and that's why Dove started this brilliant campaign. 

Social media plays a huge role in shaping the definition of beauty in today's society. And there is an epidemic of both young girls and women chasing social media 'likes' just to feel attractive. 

But, Dove believes that everyone has the opportunity to make a difference in a woman's self-esteem so that's why the Dove Self-Esteem Project is launching the #NoLikesNeeded campaign at the Women in the World Summit in London today and tomorrow. 

The purpose is to encourage girls that the only 'like' they need is their own. That's the only one that really counts. 

The beauty brand is in partnership with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and will host 30 ambitious young women from all around the globe – including Cork native Dara Daly – for three days of self-esteem building workshops and leadership development activities. 

The Dove Self-Esteem Project will also host a thought-provoking panel which will discuss the issue of body confidence in our image-obsessed world. 

Women in the World panelist, and 21-year-old singer, Nina Nesbitt, was discovered through her YouTube channel and she believes in the power of social communities for positive change. 

Nina has also spoken out about how girls of all ages have developed a ridiculous need for validation through social media. 

“I’m noticing even more that we’re living our lives online,” says Nina. 

“It’s natural for my generation to think about everything we’re doing as that ideal Instagram post, or that hilarious Tweet we have to share with our friends, as opposed to just living in the moment and avoiding the need to capture everything we’re doing.” 

And we think she's so right, as many of our bad social media habits need to change. 

Luct Attley, Dove's UK brand director also commented on the movement:

“We have long known that girls with healthy body confidence have a greater chance of reaching their full potential."

"Today’s research enables us to better understand the relationship between social media and girls’ self-esteem, and the importance of talking to girls about body confidence before they turn 18."

"Everyone can help a girl feel good about herself which is why we are asking parents, teachers, youth leaders and family friends to share their support for the #NoLikesNeeded campaign.”

Dove is committed to creating a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. 

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We all have our own body hang-ups, be it our small boobs, our big boobs, our Beyoncé booty or our flat bum. No matter how body confident you are, every girl on the planet has those "ugh I'm a MESS" moments from time to time.

Imgur user SomewhereUnderWater wanted to show followers a real, no-filter look at her body, and so posted a brilliant collage of four images showing how her stomach appears in different positions:

"We aren't barbies. We are made of flesh and blood. These are all the same body — my body. I have worked hard for this body and I am proud of this body," she wrote on the image-sharing site.

"In a world were [sic] we are surrounded by the images of our friends highlight reel sometimes it's good to see a little reality so we can keep our expectations real. No matter where you are on your body's journey, be proud and love yourself. Make goals because you love your body not because you hate it."

The response to the images have been phenomenal – they have been viewed over a million times and have been praised by users all over the world.

"Thank you! As someone who has lost a ton of weight, it's hard to be happy with the new me when I see my belly not super flat all the time," commented one Imgur user. "I'm slim and my belly's flat, but not while sitting. And sometimes it looks bloated. It's perfectly natural. We have digestive systems," wrote another.

Speaking about the overwhelming reception to the images, SomewhereUnderWater says she was "so very grateful," and added: "The important thing is that we love our bodies — and when I say that I mean that we care for our bodies. We won't always like everything that they do, or the path they have gone down or everything that happens to them but we do have to love them."

Words to live by.

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