Sexuality and Culture
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) Scholarship (file number: 24235) / Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship at the University of Western Australia / National Health and Medical Research Council Research Fellowship
NHMRC Number : GNT1119339
This qualitative study used in-depth interviews to explore adolescent girls’ perceptions of sexualized images they typically find when using social media. Twenty-four participants aged 14–17 years described sexualized images of females as normalized on social media. The interplay between gendered and social norms that endorsed and rewarded girls for posting sexualized images was seen to influence an expectation for girls to conform with their peers and post such images of themselves. They indicated sexualized images emphasize personal value on appearance and rejected this notion. However, participants also believed girls should be able to post sexualized images of themselves if they wanted to. There were tensions between whether girls’ sharing of sexualized images of themselves on social media would be interpreted as a display of confidence (socially acceptable) or attention seeking (socially unacceptable). Findings provide guidance for the development of health promotion programs to reduce potential harm from social media use by adolescent girls.
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