The perils of sexy Facebook pictures

A woman in a bikini poses during Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico. Image copyright Getty Images

A review of the best commentary on and around the world...

Today's must-read

Maybe you should think twice before uploading your beach vacation pictures to Facebook. A new study found that people with sexy photos on their social media profiles are often judged as less competent than those who post more conservative snapshots of themselves.

Oregon State University researchers asked 118 young women to judge two nearly identical Facebook pages that hosted different profile pictures - and unsurprisingly, the page with a sexy profile picture was condemned.

"The message here is that to be on social media, you must present yourself for objectification, but you can't objectify yourself - or go too far with your social media persona," writes SE Smith for the Daily Dot.

Of course, the online sphere is only reflecting what has been omnipresent in our non-digital society for years, Smith says:

"Women can't get ahead no matter what they do, and this is a society where women who are sexual (or present themselves sexually) are judged. But on the flip side, women who don't take enough care in their appearance, who dress sloppily, who don't fit the required metric of how women should look, are also criticized".

Although this study may be unsurprising, it does show that simple social media choices can have consequences.

"The study authors suggest that women and girls should select images that speak to their identities, such as pictures of them engaged in activities they like doing," Smith writes. "But is that really the answer?"

There's a larger issue at play here that goes beyond bullying and unkind judgements, she contends. "Women and girls are being judged on how they look, not who they are."

In the long run, having more conversations with young women about judgemental attitudes might be the way to go, writes Claire Hannum for the Frisky.

"Double standards aren't fun to talk about, but it may help girls to better understand why the world seems so hung up on their appearance," she says.

Young women should be taught to be aware of the implications of posting sexy photos on social media, but at the same time they should be wary of enforcing the double standard, writes Jihan Forbes for the Fashion Spot.

"Yes, it is important for girls to present themselves in ways that don't spotlight their sexuality, but from a feminist perspective, it is equally important for young ladies to not see overt displays of sexuality as a sign of a deviant personality," says Forbes.


Nigerian schoolgirls still missing, amidst fears of sexual abuse - One hundred days have passed since Boko Haram kidnapped the Chibok schoolgirls, and now some fear that they may have been raped while under the custody of the northern Nigerian militants.

"They carted them off to unknown forest locations where they are still being held," writes Evelyn Leopold for the Huffington Post. "Some who escaped told of gang rapes. So much for religion."

Although religion is at the core of Boko Haram's ideology, Leopold says that the militant group continues to commit human rights violations.

"Whether you call the girl a 'wife' or an 'infidel', abducting and molesting her is still rape with religion used as a cover to justify carnal assault," she writes.


Focus on solving the humanitarian crisis, not only the political one - With the intensity of conflict in the Middle East rising in recent weeks, "the humanitarian crisis in Syria threatens to become a sideshow", write former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and President of International Rescue Committee David Miliband in Foreign Policy magazine.

The political complexity of the Syrian crisis should not be the excuse for inaction, they say.

"For too long, a focus on the humanitarian situation was seen as a diversion from the political track," Ms Albright and Mr Miliband write. "In fact, progress on the humanitarian front needs to be the first step toward political progress."

Focusing on the humanitarian crisis, they conclude, could create a foundation for political negotiations.


Election success about more than religion - The results of Indonesia's election are reason to celebrate, but they should not be seen as a lesson for Muslim democracy, says Quartz's Bobby Ghosh.

"That view is highly patronising, of Indonesians, of Arabs and of Muslims in general. It is also just plain wrong," he writes.

The country's democratic success has little to do with what its dominant religion is, Ghosh continues. The democratic victory is more a reflection of the determination the nation's citizens, he adds.

Muslims don't need evidence that Islam and democracy can coexist because they already do in the Koran, the Hadith and in the words of the Prophet Muhammad, he concludes.


Carbon tax is a victim of thin wallets - Australia rescinded its carbon tax last week because voters are more worried about finances than the environment right now, says the Globe and Mail's Margaret Wente.

"During the 2007 election, both major parties promised tough action on the climate. Then came the recession, and people's worries shifted elsewhere," she writes.

Despite environmentalists' worries about the consequences of the repeal, it all comes down to the present voter priorities, Wente adds.

"In the ideal world of economic models, carbon taxes might be great," she concludes. "But in the real world, they're a loser."

BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day

Palestinian and Israeli commentators do not see the current hostilities in Gaza coming to an end anytime soon.

"Israel has blocked all roads leading to a political breakthrough in the West Bank, and it has breached all moral values in Gaza." - Editorial in Palestinian Al-Quds.

"Israel's strategy of prolonging the war by another 17 days or more... in order to put pressure on the Palestinian public to move against the resistance and erode its power will end in failure." - Munir Shafiq in Palestinian Al-Risalah.

"The Israeli demand to demilitarise the Gaza Strip of offensive weapons on and under the ground, which is backed by EU foreign ministers, is justified. On the other hand, Israel must free its long, punishing grip and set the strip free." - Amnon Abramovitch in Israeli Yedioth Aharonot.

"Have we already reached the point when Hamas is so damaged that the organisation will be willing to preserve the calm for a significant period of time?" - Yoav Limor in Israel's Israel Hayom.‎

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