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In 2019 we launched a major new piece ofresearch set to permanently shift theconversation around teens, social media andmental health.

Addressing the global worries about the
impact of social media on teen wellness, the 
round-breaking Disrupting The Feed study
explored changing what teens consume on
social media, rather than restricting it. Our
research revealed many positive outcomes
from the introduction of new, diverse female
role models into the social media feeds of girls aged 14 to 18 years old. 

A joint research venture between The Female Lead and Psychologist, Dr Terri Apter, Fellow Emerita of Newnham College, Cambridge, the study encompasses large-scale data analysis of hundreds of thousands of social media accounts by Starcount, alongside a year-long qualitative study in five schools across the UK.


The study concluded that a causal relationship exists between following positive female role models on social media and having higher, focused personal and career aspirations.


Offering teens alternative women to follow ‘disrupted’ the homogeneity of their social channels, thereby focusing them on more inspirational content, related to their personal interests and ambitions.


As a result, participants chose to alter their social media habits for better mental health, re-thinking who they followed to remove anyone who they recognised as having a negative impact on their self-esteem.

Off the back of this research, The Female Lead launched a social media pledge to inspire more constructive behaviours on social media, empowering girls to only follow people who make them feel good.


Over 100 influencers shared our pledge on their social media accounts, and through this we were able to reach 20 million people on social media.


"The Disrupt Your Feed study continues to transform the way my students engage with the world and with social media. All of the students have said how empowering and helpful the work has been to them and their friends."

- Professor Sally Everett

Vice Dean (Education),

King's Business School


The Disrupt Your Feed campaign seeks to balance the mix of what girls and women consume on social media, rather than restricting it.

We have proved that positive female role models inspire happier personal and career aspirations. By choosing to follow real and diverse women, it 'disrupts' the current automated celebrity feed, allowing users to focus more on personal interests and ambitions. This in turn delivers better mental health and becomes a force for good.


Follow one or two influencers who make you feel empowered!

Chessie King

Presenter, Doula, Author of Be Your Own Bestfriend

Eve Simmons

Writer, Journalist, Editor @notplantbased, Deputy Health Editor Mail on Sunday

Bishamber Das

Britains First Asian Plus Size Model, Lawye, Actor, Founder of @Girllikemeonline


“I don't have to be hourglass and be a makeup artist or a model. I can be successful and independent. It's no longer just about what I look like but actually about what I think, which is definitely more important”

- Leila Symonds, Study Participant


“My social media now has given me much more self-belief”

- Sophia Harley, Study Participant


Whilst recovering from the impacts Covid-19, The Female Lead wanted to assess how repeated lockdowns had affected our relationship with social media.


In February 2022, we polled tens of thousands of women in a new survey into attitudes towards social media.


The survey revealed that most women are aware of the negative impact of social media on their well-being and self-esteem.

78% of people believe that social media has negatively affected the way they view their bodies

75% of people worry that social media has a negative impact on their mental health

59% of people believe that their life would be better if social media didn't exist


To mitigate this negative impact, our ground-breaking campaign, 'Disrupt Your Feed', proves that social media can also be a source of inspiration and career motivation.

But to achieve this, we must take the lead in our own social media feeds to ensure a balanced and healthy mix of content.


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October 7, 2019

October 6, 2019

Mental health of teenage girls could be 'dramatically improved' if they ditch 'photoshopped' Instagram models

Teenage girls are being encouraged to ditch the 'social junk food' of negative role models and follow positive figures like Michelle Obama and Emma Watson...

My quick-fix for girls stuck in a toxic social media bubble

There is a growing panic around young people and social media. Ask any parent of a teen or look at the headlines - every week there stories linking social media to depression, anxiety, self harm, eating disorders and bullying - and who are said to be worst affected? Girls...


October 12, 2019

New social media scheme encourages girls to follow positive figures such as Michelle Obama

Teenage girls are being urged to ditch negative role models and follow inspirational, positive figures such as Michelle Obama and Emma Watson. A groundbreaking scheme shown to...


October 18, 2019

'Disrupting the feed' is making Instagram less toxic

Disrupting the Feed may be the leader when it comes to breaking down the toxicity of social media. The study asked teenagers to follow four inspirational women on Instagram. The follow list included activist Greta Thunberg, actress and activist Jameela Jamil...



The Disrupt Your Feed campaign was supported by Bauer Media Group across radio, online publications and social media. 

Hits Radio & Kiss FM
00:00 / 01:05
Rock FM Preston
00:00 / 00:35

Our campaign was also featured in Ofcom's 2023 Listening to Experts: Mental Health and Media Literacy report. 

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