Women, particularly young women, get a lot of conflicting advice about how to look and how to act. But that advice doesn’t come with validity, and the cost of following some advice is pretty high. A recent study in Psychology of Popular Media Culture looks at The Price of Sexy: Viewers’ Perceptions of a Sexualized Versus Nonsexualized Facebook Profile Photograph and it shows a small part of that cost.
In the study, only the views of adolescent and young adult women were assessed. The result shows that among her peers, a young woman in a sexualized picture is considered less attractive physically and socially. She also is considered less competent to complete tasks, and the only difference between the two profile pictures is the way the same woman presents herself. This is the price tag among her female peers right now, and it doesn’t go into why the other girls think the way they do or how it affects future careers.
Counting The Career Cost
If you want to prepare your teen for first job expectations, it might be a good idea to point out the increasing evidence that our online behavior has a price tag. Talk about the way our choices have consequences and let them experience some of those consequences in the safety of your home. Let them be late because they overslept, or wear wrinkles because they didn’t fold their laundry, and anything else that can be connected as a cost — a consequence because of a choice. Many times the real world cost helps a young person connect the way online behavior also has a cost.
Then look past the present choices at the career they are hoping to pursue and help them visualize how their choices today affect their future. Use the things they can see to help them understand the things they don’t see yet. Studies like “The Price of Sexy” can be helpful in discussions because you can talk about the study instead of the individual, and that makes things less confrontational.