Social media has done many things for us. It’s given us a new way to keep up with people we know. We can find jobs. We can find love! And we can also confirm that young women are insecure and threatened by each other!
At least, that’s the accidental message delivered by Elizabeth Daniels, a researcher at Oregon State University who decided to see what women thought of women who post sexy profile pictures. So she created two profiles for ‘Amanda Johnson,’ a young woman who likes Twilight, The Notebook and Lady Gaga. One profile had Amanda in a sexy red dress, the other had her in a fairly typical getup of jeans and a t-shirt. Then she asked 118 girls and women, 13 to 25, what they thought of the profiles.
Anybody who has been to high school gets no points for guessing what happened next:
In all three areas, the non-sexy profile scored higher, indicating that those who viewed that photo thought Amanda was prettier, more likely to make a good friend and more likely to complete a task. The largest difference was in the area of task competence, suggesting a young woman’s capabilities are really dinged by the sexy photo, Daniels said.
Daniels calls it a “clear indictment” of sexy social media photos, which… come on, really, lady, you have to remember what middle school was like. The real problem here is that social media forces us to choose one aspect of our personality to show to the world. Intellectually, every one of this study’s participants knows and understands ‘Amanda’ didn’t dress sexy all the time… they just dislike how she presents herself, for what could be a multitude of reasons. The irony of social media is that it makes us more accessible while locking us into certain roles, and ultimately that’s a problem for everyone.