How we feel about ourselves is so often a function of how others feel about us or how they perceive us. With social media tools, especially Facebook, one can essentially spend the day micro managing their public relations image so as to create a perceived reality of who we are. That said perhaps we ought not be surprised that according to a new study “females who base their self-worth on their appearance tend to share more photos online and maintain larger networks on online social networking sites.” And in case you are wondering what that ratio is with respect to men- it’s at least 5 to 1.
In a society that has taught females from the moment she has consciousness that her intrinsic value is essentially tied to her ability to be beautiful and flawless, (to be otherwise is to risk fame, status, wealth and of course her desirability factor) is it therefore any surprise that the use of social media has been marketed towards women as a way to reaffirm and remind those in her peer group how beautiful she is and by extension how status valuable she is?
Go on to facebook right now and you will be sure to find newly posted images of women parading in a certain way not so much because they have new pictures to share, but because they have new material that they have to post to remind themselves and their peer how valuable they are or should be. In essence value is not created by dialogue and action but by the posting of images of a woman that shows or highlights that she too is beautiful and therefore by extension a good candidate for your affections, friends, and the right boyfriend and economic opportunities.
Going back to the study, the authors defined two kinds of self worth:
jezebel: 1/ private, which “related to more traditional, personal domains like family, virtue, and God’s love,” and 2/public, “focused on approval, appearance and competition concepts.” They conclude that “Results show that females reported significantly stronger associations with appearance.”
In a society dominated with revolving talk about how celebrities look, advertisements that photo shop women to oblivion and unreachable levels of preferred beauty , is it any surprise the overt suggestion ends up being a woman’s power is very closely related to her ability to look good. Never mind if she has anything important to say or do, ultimately as a society despite what is claimed in feminist circles a woman will so often resort to the idea that her value is contingent on how she looks. This is what implicitly gives her power, status, the correct boyfriend and the mobility she needs to make her life a success and hence is it any wonder females you are on facebook right now posting the latest images of yourself in your bikinis, on PMC, Getty, Wireimage or any other outlet that has perceived cache (like a Vogue tear sheet)?
But just in case you think females are doing this just to share holiday snapshots amongst their friends, the study throws out some data that will have you thinking twice why a woman spends so much time outsourcing her image to the public viral machine:
“On average, participants reported not having met 12% of their online social networks.”
“Female participants reported having significantly larger networks of strong ties, as expected.
Females tended to spend more time managing their profiles and shared more photos online.”