Selfies! Perhaps one of the biggest trends of the 21st century. They're a couple scrolls away on your nearest screen.
Our typical thought around selfies are a quick snapshot of a women that shows her looking her best. All her curves and angles are emphasised and even though it appears like an off the cuff snap, it's likely the result of an hour-long photoshoot.
We tend to think she may be desperate for attention, affection or just an ego boost. However, a new study has found out the real reason why. It's much more on the composed side than anything to do with desperate!
University of New South Wales researcher Khandis Blake says the next time you see a woman adjusting her bikini provocatively with her phone at the ready, don't think of her as vacuous or a victim. "Think of her as a strategic player in a complex social and evolutionary game," says Dr Blake.
Image Source: Instagram. Kim K's been playing the game for years!
The study discovered that women tend to sexualise themselves in environments with greater economic equality, rather than places where they are more likely to be oppressed because of their gender.
By analysying tens of thousands of selfies from 113 countries, they noted down if they were tagged sexy or something similar.
"We then looked at where in the world these things happened most," Dr Blake explains.
"The number one way that psychologists usually look at women's preoccupation with their appearance is that it happens because of patriarchal pressures — that women live in societies that value their appearance more than their other qualities.
"The argument is usually that when you see sexualization, you see disempowerment."
"What we found instead is that women are more likely to invest time and effort into posting sexy selfies online in places where economic inequality is rising, and not in places where men hold more societal power and gender inequality is rife."
These findings remained consistent across different geographic locations, even with full consideration of other influencing factors. Such as, populations, human development and internet access.
"That income inequality is a big predictor of sexy selfies suggests that sexy selfies are a marker of social climbing among women that tracks economic incentives in the local environment."
"Rightly or wrongly, in today's environment, looking sexy can generate large returns, economically, socially, and personally."
The researchers then found the exact same pattern in real-world spending in other appearance-enhancing areas.
"What we found in more than 1000 different economic areas in the US when looking at women’s spending in beauty salons and clothing stores is that income inequality is also predicting this type of spending,"
The researchers say that the findings make sense from an evolutionary point of view.
Dr Blake stated that "In evolutionary terms, these kinds of behaviours are completely rational, even adaptive,"
"The basic idea is that the way people compete for mates, and the things they do to put themselves at the top of the hierarchy are really important. This is where this research fits in — it’s all about how women are competing and why they’re competing."
Instagram. Local start Tammy Hembrow leveraged her life with a few hot selfies.
"So, when a young woman adjusts her bikini provocatively with her phone at the ready, don't think of her as vacuous or as a victim. Think of her as a strategic player in a complex social and evolutionary game. She’s out to maximise her lot in life, just like everyone."