THURSDAY, July 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Teen girls and young women who post sexy photos of themselves on social media sites are viewed negatively by their peers, a new study finds.
"This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos," Elizabeth Daniels, who was a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University in Corvallis at the time of the study, said in a university news release.
"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," she added.
Daniels and her colleagues created two Facebook profiles for a fictitious 20-year-old woman. Both profiles were exactly the same except that one included a non-sexy photo while the other included a sexy photo.
In the non-sexy photo, the woman wore jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and a scarf that covers her chest. In the sexy photo, the woman wore a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh, revealing a garter belt.
The researchers asked 118 teen girls and young women, aged 13 to 25, to assess one of the two Facebook profiles. The participants who saw the sexy profile judged the women to be less physically and socially attractive, and less competent to perform tasks, the Oregon State University researchers found.
The findings, published online July 14 in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, highlight the need to help young people understand the long-term effects of their online activity, Daniels said.
She urged parents, teachers and other influential adults to have regular talks with teens about the issue.
"We really need to help youth understand this is a very public forum," Daniels said.
And her advice to girls? "Don't focus so heavily on appearance. Focus on who you are as a person and what you do in the world," Daniels suggested.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about young people's social media use.