Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Social, Behavioral & Global Studies

First Advisor

Yong Lao

Second Advisor

Armando Arias


Social media’s largest platforms, especially Facebook and Instagram, has revolutionized the average American’s accessibility to new subcultures, usurping the societal influence of traditional media forms while retaining many of their marketing methods. The following capstone research discusses how the fitness subculture and fitness-related content on social media affects male and female body image and body ideals. Through a content analysis of current literature, I provide connections between the marketing of fitness in American media and its influence on men and women’s body image. Using social comparison theory, I analyze prior research that explains the causes of body dissatisfaction and explain social media’s role in this. I created a survey to gain insight on modern social media consumption of fitness-related content and to observe its effect on body image, its effectiveness as motivation to live a healthier lifestyle, and its influence on American women’s body ideals. In my conclusion, I discuss the importance of this research in regards to educating young people on media literacy, body image, and overall health and wellness.