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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Posting sexy images on Facebook is not sexy

IANS  New York, July 15, 2014
First Published: 18:27 IST(15/7/2014) | Last Updated: 18:27 IST(15/7/2014)

For young women, sharing sexy or revealing photos on social media may backfire as female friends may view them as physically and socially less attractive and less competent to perform tasks.

According to a study, there is a lot of pressure on teenage girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive.

"This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos," said researcher Elizabeth Daniels, an assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University.

For the study, Daniels 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.

Study participants were 58 teenage girls, aged 13-18, and 60 young adult women no longer in high school, aged 17-25.

The participants were asked to assess 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.

Daniels' advice for girls and young women is to select social media photos that showcase their identity rather so much on their appearance.

"Do not focus so heavily on appearance. Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world," she concluded in a paper published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Also see: Social media makes people vain, less empathic


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