We are told the old adage, "when you look good, you feel good." We are sold the notion that for women to look good, they should look sexy. The media, in particular, presents a very specific image of the "sexy woman" that many can quickly identify: long flowing hair, plumped lips, thin yet curvaceous body, form-fitting clothing, high heels, etc. Advertisements make the promise that if a woman just spends money to enhance her breasts, paint her face and lose a few pounds, she will be happy. Research, however, has found the opposite to be true. The reality is that a fixation with looking sexy can lead to unhappiness.
Many people can successfully toe the line between caring about their physical appearance and other qualities and skills they possess. For example, a young woman may spend a lot of time at the gym and an hour getting ready in the morning, but she also gains self-worth through her academic performance, her sense of humor and being a good friend. She values her appearance but also her personality and accomplishments.
However, for some teens and young women, the pursuit of sex appeal is not an easy balance and can lead to depression. The American Psychological Association's Task Force on The Sexualization of Girls identified a clear tipping point. According to the Task Force, the pursuit of sexiness becomes problematic when an individual stops caring about their internal qualities and their self-value comes only from their sex appeal. If a young woman refuses to leave her house without her hair and makeup done and only feels good about herself when she gets sexual validation or praise for her appearance, she has become sexualized. The Task Force analyzed numerous studies and found that when a person is sexualized, they have an increased risk of depression.