Think Twice Before Taking That Sexy Selfie

Joanna Douglas
Senior Editor
July 15, 2014

How much time did you spend taking your last selfie? Turns out, you’d be better off devoting that time to something else. A new study published by Oregon State University found that ladies who post sexy or revealing photos are viewed as less physically and socially attractive than women who spend their time doing, well, anything else. Turns out, their female peers go so far as to consider the selfie-taking women as being less capable of performing tasks. The study enlisted 108 females aged 13 to 25 to critique and rate selfies based on if they found the subjects to be attractive, worthy of being a friend, or competent at completing a job. Are you surprised that not sexy photos scored higher in all three areas?

We’re not. While stars like Beyonce or Kim Kardashian make the sexy selfie game look normal, it’s not. “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,” said researcher and assistant psychology professor Elizabeth Daniels in the Psychology of Popular Media Culture journal. Her new article called “The price of sexy: Viewers’ perceptions of a sexualized versus non-sexualized Facebook profile photo” sheds light on these findings, saying that young women are in a “no-win” situation when it comes to sexy selfies. Daniels says while their female peers view girls negatively for posting them, they’ll lose out on male attention—not to mention potential likes and followers—if they don’t. It all boils down to the same oft-asked question: “Why is it we focus so heavily on girls’ appearances?” Daniels adds, “What does this tell us about gender? Those conversations should be part of everyday life. We need to understand what [young women] are doing online and how that affects their self-concept and their self-esteem.”

In an era when one racy photo can ruin a young woman’s reputation forever, it’s clear that parents, teachers, and adults in positions of influence should open up a dialogue with young women—and young men—about the implications of their actions in the social sphere. Daniels suggests making a conscious decision to showcase your interests, hobbies, or personality instead of a picture of yourself. Sure, a poolside shot in your bikini might get more likes, but it will also do more damage in the long run. Why not share something that shows the world how beautiful you are inside, instead?