In the past few years, social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook have absolutely boomed. Their creators are millionaires, thanks to the millions of people—largely teenagers—who log on daily to message their friends, update their photos, write personal blogs and so much more. Many people have gripes about these sites—they worry about safety, for instance. My chief concern, however, is not about safety. I worry instead about the opportunity these sites have provided for young women and girls to objectify their bodies.
I have a Myspace to keep in touch with out-of-state friends, and though I rarely log on, I’m always taken aback when I begin to explore the site. Every user is allowed twelve open slots in which to upload photos, and literally millions of teenage girls use this space to showcase their bodies. They take pictures of themselves sucking lollipops suggestively, or bending over in short skirts. Some even pose practically naked. Myspace’s rules regarding nudity are shockingly lax; some of the pictures are borderline porn—all featuring young women.
And why do they display themselves this way? Obviously, to win attention from boys—and it works. A girl at my school posted a picture of herself in high heels, a thong, and nothing else. Within a week, she’d become a mini-celebrity at my high school. Boys who had previously never even heard her name were suddenly lining up to talk to her and vying for seats at her lunch table. The boys’ attention even caught the interest of some girls; they decided that if this girl was so popular with boys, she was someone they’d like to have on their side.
Nudity isn’t the only way to objectify yourself on the internet. Many girls, inexplicably, post pictures of themselves drunk and falling all over a gaggle of sneering guys. The pictures have a clear message: look at me! When I drink, I’m easy! Again, the objective here is to gain attention from the opposite sex and, unfortunately, it works a frighteningly substantial amount of the time.
There are also those girls who use up their twelve shots with cute self portraits. Their smiles are nothing taboo—but the fact that they have twelve solid shots of themselves trying to look pretty indicates a clear desire for attention, a desire every bit as strong as that of the nearly-naked or intoxicated girls. There’s nothing wrong with a few pretty self portraits—we’re all entitled to a pinch of self promotion—but why those exclusively? Why not post pictures of your friends? Your pet? Your cousins? Why not, at least, a picture of you doing something you love—skiing or sketching or laughing or cooking?
It saddens me that at age seventeen there are still girls who so desperately need male attention that they present themselves to the world as just pretty faces or faceless bodies. I figured out early on that if you want others to respect you, you must first respect yourself. By displaying ourselves as sex symbols on the internet, young girls will never gain the respect that we—every one of us, because we are all beautiful and amazing with something to offer the world—deserve.
Lilly loves and lives in Northwest. She is a senior in high school. She is passionate about the power of the printed word.