Afraid to Be Your Selfie? Survey Reveals Most People Photoshop Their Images before Posting on Social Media Networks

In response to study, The Renfrew Center Foundation launches third annual “Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within” Campaign in Conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

PHILADELPHIA--()--With the near-constant likelihood of being snapped and posted at every turn by “paparazzi” friends, not to mention the ubiquitous selfies, comes the pressure to be camera-ready at all times. But, aided by the ready availability of image editing software, most people first alter photos of themselves before sharing them on social media networks. These findings are the result of a new survey released today by The Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research, advocacy and treatment of eating disorders.

The online survey was conducted from Jan. 17 – 21 by Harris Interactive on behalf of The Renfrew Center Foundation among 1,710 U.S. adults ages 18 and above who had some type of social media account. Of that group, 85 percent print/post pictures of themselves online. Highlights from the survey include:

  • Most people edit their pictures before putting them on social media
    Whether it’s cropping, fixing red eye or editing a blemish, half (50%) of those who print or post photos on their social media networks (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram) admit to touching them up first.
  • “How do I look?”
    Nearly half (48%) who edit pictures of themselves enhance their looks by removing blemishes (15%) or adding color to look less pale (15%). Approximately 1 in 8 (12%) admit to editing because they aren’t happy with how they look in general, while some (6%) edit to make themselves look thinner.
  • Not for women only
    Nearly three-quarters (70%) of Gen Y/Millennial women edit their pictures before posting them to their social networks, but so do more than half of men surveyed in the same age group (18-34). What’s more, nearly 60% of parents with children under 18 edit their pictures before posting them on social networks. Even among respondents ages 55 – 64, more than a third (32%) are editing their self-images.

“All this taking and posting photos has become an obsession of sorts. We feel pressured to edit and alter our images so we look like what we think of as our ‘best selves’ instead of our real selves,” said Adrienne Ressler, Vice President, Professional Development, The Renfrew Center Foundation, and renowned body image expert. “The concern is that these social media habits can fuel negative self-esteem or body image issues, setting the stage for addictions or other destructive behaviors such as eating disorders. The high is never high enough, the scale is never low enough and the image posted on social media is never good enough.”

For the third consecutive year, during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 23 – March 1),The Renfrew Center Foundation is sponsoring a national campaign, entitled Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within ( The goal of the campaign is to encourage women nationwide to go without makeup for a day, post an unedited selfie to their social networks and participate in an ongoing dialogue about healthy body image and inner beauty.

“In this age of toddler beauty pageants, digital retouching, peer pressure, celebrity worship, and other unrealistic cultural messages about beauty, there are definite challenges to developing a positive body image; challenges that put women at risk for eating disorders and other self-destructive behaviors,” said Ressler. “Our hope is that through Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, we will continue to promote the realization that real beauty and self-esteem truly begin from within.”

To support Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, The Renfrew Center Foundation is asking women to go without makeup on Monday, Feb. 24. They can promote their involvement through their social media networks by tweeting an untouched selfie or changing their Facebook profile picture to one of their natural self and using the hashtag #barefacedbeauty. To learn more about participating in Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within, please go to

The Renfrew Center Foundation

The Renfrew Center Foundation, founded in 1990, is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to advancing the education, prevention, research, advocacy and treatment of eating disorders. The Renfrew Center Foundation is supported financially by private donations and funding from The Renfrew Center, the nation’s first residential and largest network of eating disorder treatment facilities. The Renfrew Center has 14 facilities in 11 states. Through its programs, the Foundation aims to increase awareness of eating disorders as a public health issue and research the pathology and recovery patterns of people with eating disorders. The Foundation also seeks to educate professionals in the assessment, treatment and prevention of behavioral and emotional disorders by sponsoring an annual conference, as well as numerous seminars throughout the country. To date, the Foundation has trained nearly 25,000 professionals. For information about The Renfrew Center Foundation, please call toll-free 1-877-367-3383 or visit

Survey Methodology

This online survey is not based on a probability sample and, therefore, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Laura Feragen at 609-682-4157.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll® and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit


The Renfrew Center Foundation
Laura Feragen, 609-682-4157

Release Summary

For National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 23 - March 1, The Renfrew Center Foundation reveals survey results about self-esteem and editing selfies before posting them on social media.


The Renfrew Center Foundation
Laura Feragen, 609-682-4157