First Advisor

Lauren Frank

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Communication Studies and University Honors




Face perception -- Social aspects, Instagram (Firm), Social media -- Psychological aspects, Stereotypes (Social psychology) in mass media, Sexism in mass media, Men in mass media, Women in mass media




The purpose of this study was to explore potential gendered stereotypes by examining the facial prominence of male and female celebrities’ social media images. The face-ism theory evaluates the facial prominence of a depiction; higher facial prominence prompts viewers of media to assume the person they are observing is more intelligent and more likeable in general. In previous research men had higher facial prominence than women, which calls in to question the perpetuation of gendered stereotypes in media. This research is a content analysis of 300 self-selected Instagram photos, posted by the top 30 followed men and women celebrities on Instagram. The images were analyzed to test differences in facial prominence using the face-ism index to measure the head-body ratio of the men and women. The popularity of the images and the occupation of the celebrity were also coded. The results of this study found no difference in facial prominence between men and women, suggesting that celebrities' self-selected images do not replicate the gender-biased facial prominence seen in images that are selected for the celebrity in marketing, advertising, and film. However, facial prominence for both female and male celebrities was very low compared to other studies. This study also found that occupation and popularity have no relationship to the level of facial prominence. The implications for new media in regard to the face-ism theory should be explored further in additional research.


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