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Published April 3, 2019
Zena Toh, MA student and teaching assistant for the Department of Communication, was awarded the Nila T. Gnamm Junior Faculty Research Fund for her master’s thesis project. In her thesis, Zena is looking at selfie-editing as a means to beautify oneself and comparing this behavior between individuals in Singapore and the US. She is also seeking to understand social media’s influence on perceptions of attractiveness. Quantitative and mixed methods of research were used in Zena’s study. In the first part of her study, Zena had participants take and edit their selfies in a lab, and answer a couple of survey questions regarding their online behavior. Following that, Zena created and distributed an online survey for others to rate those selfies. Zena’s thesis focuses on the association between social media engagement and concepts of beauty norms. She believes that “it’s important for new media scholars to understand how social media is shaping our behavior and societal norms in general.” Zena hopes to gain a better understanding of this concept due to its implications on wellbeing, relationships, and motivation.