Women are caught in a no-win situation when it comes to their photos on Facebook and other social networks, according to a new study from Oregon State University, which found that sexy and revealing photos may cost them job opportunities, while more conservative images could lead to less attention from potential suitors.
Daniels used (with permission) actual high-school senior portrait photos and prom photos from a young woman. In the “sexy” profile, “Johnson” is wearing a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt, while in the “non-sexy” one, she is wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a scarf draped around her neck, covering her chest.
She then asked 58 teen girls aged 13 through 18 and 60 young adult women above high-school age to assess Johnson’s physical attractiveness, social attractiveness, and task competence, on a scale of one through seven, and the non-sexy profile scored higher in all three areas, particularly task competence.
This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos. 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.
Social media is where the youth are. We need to understand what they’re doing online and how that affects their self-concept and their self-esteem.
We really need to help youth understand this is a very public forum.
Why is it we focus so heavily on girls’ appearances? What does this tell us about gender? Those conversations should be part of everyday life.
Don’t focus so heavily on appearance. Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world.
Readers: Did this study’s findings surprise you?
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