LIFESTYLE

Is This What Gals Really Think Of Women Who Post Sexy Photos On Facebook?

15/07/2014 17:25 BST | Updated 15/07/2014 17:59 BST

Women who post sexy or revealing photos on social media sites may find themselves becoming rather unpopular with their female peers, a recent study has shown.

And frankly, we're not surprised.

Slut-shaming, although a hateful pastime and not something we condone on HuffPost UK Lifestyle, is commonplace in female circles. And to deny otherwise is disingenuous.

Whether it's Miley Cyrus twerking or an old school friend posing in a short skirt, a sexy picture is guaranteed to get women bitching and passing judgement.

selfie sexy girl

A recent study, conducted by Oregon State University, has only served to cement this.

It found that women who have sexy or revealing Facebook profile pictures are seen to be less physically and socially attractive and less competent to perform tasks.

Lead researcher Elizabeth Daniels, says girls are in a "no-win" situation.

On one hand those who share sexy photos risk being alienated from their female peers, whereas those who opt for more wholesome photos may lose 'social rewards', such as male attention.

"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," Elizabeth said in a statement.

"Social media is where the youth are," she adds. "We need to understand what they're doing online and how that affects their self-concept and their self-esteem."

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During the study, Elizabeth mocked up two Facebook profiles for a fictitious individual, 20-year-old Amanda Johnson.

The profiles had the same interests befitting of someone of Amanda's age including musicians such as Lady Gaga, books such as Twilight, and films such as The Notebook.

They even used the same female research volunteer for the profile photos, so the only difference was the nature of the image - one was sexy and one was wholesome.

In the sexy photo, "Amanda" is wearing a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt.

Where as in the non-sexy photo, she is wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a scarf draped around her neck, which covers her chest.

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The study invited more than 100 young women - 58 teenagers, aged 13-18, and 60 young women, aged 17-25 - to give feedback on the profiles.

Participants were randomly assigned one profile and asked a series of questions based on physical attractiveness, social attractiveness and task competence. They were asked to rate their beliefs on a scale of 1-7.

The non-sexy profile scored higher in all three areas. The biggest difference was in task competence, says Elizabeth, which shows that perceptions of a woman's capabilities are affected by the way she looks.

While this does throw up interesting questions about gender roles and attitudes, Elizabeth says the findings can also teach young people a lot about the implications of online behaviour - and that what we post online can have consequences.

"We really need to help youth understand this is a very public forum," she said.

Her advice? Encouraging girls and young women to select social media photos that focus less on appearance and more on other interests such as hobbies or sports.

"Don't focus so heavily on appearance," she said. "Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world."

What do you think of the study? Let us know in the comments below.