We've all been there ... you want your new crush to see you in a different light, or maybe the honeymoon phase of your relationship has worn off, or perhaps, more simply, you just want a little attention. For a wide variety of reasons, many of us have had the urge to post (or have posted) a sexy selfie.
But new research confirms what we might have already suspected: you'll be judged harshly for posting those photos.
In a study published this week, Dr. Eileen Zurbriggen and researcher Elizabeth Daniels, both psychology professors, studied how other women respond when a woman posts a sexy photo on Facebook.
The researchers created two fictitious Facebook users named Amanda Johnson, even making both Amandas "like" cultural touchstones such as Lady Gaga and Twilight on Facebook to create a personality profile. But the two fake Facebook users had one big difference in their profiles. They had very different profile pictures.
In one version, Amanda wore a low-cut red dress and in another, she wore jeans and a T-shirt with a scarf covering her chest.
The 118 women who evaluated the fictitious users for the study overwhelmingly preferred jeans and T-shirt Amanda, finding her more attractive and rating her as someone who'd likely be a better friend. Women overwhelmingly assumed sexy Amanda was less competent than jeans and T-shirt Amanda. (Unfortunately, the study didn't look at how men perceived sexy women.)
The takeaway for real women? Every time you post a sexy selfie, your reputation could take a hit.
Considering messages from the media regarding beauty and body image, this seems a bit unfair.
“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,” Daniels said in a press release, adding that women are in a "no-win" situation regarding these types of photos.
What can we do about it besides resisting the urge to post?
“Don’t focus so heavily on appearance,” Daniels said. “Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world.”
And if you do want to post a sexy picture of yourself? Well, what the heck. It's your photo, it's your body, it's your call!
The study appeared this week in Psychology of Popular Media Culture.