On SAGE Insight: Sexiness on Social Media: The Social Costs of Using a Sexy Profile Photo

From Sexualization, Media, & Society

The sexualization of girls and women is highly prevalent in Western media and consumer culture sending the message to girls and women that being sexy is valued. Using an experimental methodology, this study assessed college men’s perceptions of a female peer who presented herself on Facebook in either a sexualized or nonsexualized manner. Results indicated that the sexualized profile owner was considered less physically attractive, less socially appealing, and less competent to complete tasks. In addition, men may be less interested in a dating or sexual relationship with the owner of a social media profile with sexualized profile photo. Thus, if young women are aiming to attract positive from men via a sexualized profile photo, that is not likely to be a successful strategy. These findings should be situated within larger conversations about what constitutes healthy relationships among young people, including the role of new technologies, as well as the sociocultural environment that sexually objectifies women. Using a sexualized profile photo on Facebook comes with some relational costs for young women. Strategies for educating young people about new media use and sexualization are discussed in the paper.

Abstract

Using an experimental methodology, the present study assessed college men’s perceptions of a female peer who presented herself on Facebook in either a sexualized or nonsexualized manner. One hundred and seventeen college men viewed a Facebook profile with either a sexualized profile photo or a nonsexualized profile photo of a young woman and then evaluated the profile owner. They also reported on their dating attitudes. Results indicated that the sexualized profile owner was considered less physically attractive, less socially appealing, and less competent to complete tasks. Interest in dating and casual sex with the profile owner as well as general dating attitudes were largely not impacted by the type of profile photo. Findings suggest that using a sexualized profile photo on Facebook comes with some relational costs for young women. Strategies for educating young people about new media use and sexualization are discussed.

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Article details
Sexiness on Social Media: The Social Costs of Using a Sexy Profile Photo
Elizabeth A. Daniels
First Published December 26, 2016
DOI: 10.1177/2374623816683522
From Sexualization, Media, & Society

 

 

 

     
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