Young women who post or share sexy Rihana-style selfies on social media are viewed by their female peers as physically and socially less attractive and less competent to perform tasks.
According to a recent study, teenage girls and young women are inspired by pop stars and other female celebrities such as Kim Kardashian to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing them on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter may have more negative consequences than positive.
‘This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos, said Elizabeth Daniels of the Oregon State University, who led the study.
‘There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive,’ Daniels said.
For the research, Daniel created two mock Facebook profiles for the fictitious 20-year old Amanda Johnson.
In the sexy profile photo, Amanda is wearing a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt.
In the non-sexy photo, she is seen wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a scarf draped around her neck, covering her chest.
The participants were asked to review Amanda’s physical attractiveness, social attractiveness and task competence.
In all three areas, the non-sexy profile scored higher.
“It indicated that those who viewed that photo thought Amanda was prettier, more likely to make a good friend and more likely to complete a task,” Daniels noted.
“The largest difference was in the area of task competence, suggesting a young woman’s capabilities are really dinged by the sexy photo,” Daniels added.
“Parents and educators should have regular conversations about the implications of online behaviour with teenagers and young adults,” Daniels suggested.
Daniel’s advice for teenage girls and young women is to carefully select social media photos that portray their personality rather so much on their appearance.
‘Don’t focus so heavily on appearance,’ Daniels said.
‘Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world.’