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Catherine's research has helped to raise awareness of the impact these hashtags can have on the lives on vulnerable young people

Researcher shortlisted for communication award

A researcher who has raised awareness of how social media affects people’s attitudes to body image has been shortlisted for a communication award.

Catherine Talbot, of the University of Exeter Medical School, is one of three early career researchers shortlisted for the Researchers’ Choice Communication Award.

Part of the Early Career Researcher UK Awards Ceremony 2018, run by journal publisher Elsevier, the award winner will be announced in October.

PhD student Catherine was shortlisted after her paper, “A content analysis of thinspiration, fitspiration, and bonespiration imagery on social media”, was published in the Journal of Eating Disorders.

Her research into the culture of ‘bonespiration’ – where hashtags are used on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter to inspire the viewer to achieve an extremely thin body type – has raised awareness of how these platforms affect the human mind and behaviour, specifically in relation to body image.

Catherine helped raise awareness of a disturbing new social media trend which was increasing pressure on teenage girls to aspire to extremely thin bodies while contributing to a distorted view of their own body.

Catherine also collaborated with Devon artist Phillippa Mills to create Truth and Beauty, an art exhibition which explored the phenomenon of extreme weight loss in young women.

Catherine said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award. The use of the social media hashtags bonespiration and thinspiration is pervasive. It has a really damaging impact on the lives of vulnerable young people, particularly young women. I’m proud that my research has raised awareness of this important issue and I’ve found the process of communicating it creatively extremely rewarding.”

The winner will be announced at a ceremony on October 4.

Date: 16 August 2018

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