Study: Displaying cleavage, sexiness can alienate other women

Posted Nov 23, 2011 by Elizabeth Cunningham Perkins
New University of Ottawa research documented women's aggression against other women wearing revealing outfits; women showing too much leg or cleavage are likely to be ostracized from female social circles as dangerous rivals, the scientists claimed.
Women everywhere scorn sexy women, according to psychologist Tracy Vaillancourt, lead author of the study that was published this month in the journal Aggressive Behavior.
In an experiment designed to examine the phenomenon of female intrasexual aggression, a theme that plays out entertainingly in the reality television show The Bachelor, pairs of female friends or strangers who thought they were waiting to participate in research about conflict were filmed reacting to an attractive, provocatively dressed female peer who entered the room and interacted with a male setting up camera equipment; other pairs of women saw the same attractive female enter wearing a conservative outfit and interact with the male.
The participants' reactions were rated for aggression by a separate group of females who were unaware of the experimental conditions.
The researchers found almost all the women assigned to the first scenario were rated as highly aggressive toward the female peer dressed in the sexy outfit -- staring up and down, rolling their eyes and displaying angry expressions while she was present, then laughing, ridiculing and suggesting her wardrobe choices were sexually motivated after she left the room; but the conservatively dressed female was barely noticed by the test subjects assigned to the second scenario.
In a second experiment, test subjects expressed that they would not want to introduce the sexy-outfitted female colleague to their boyfriends, or allow him to be friends with her or spend time with her, confirming that a provocatively dressed woman is viewed as a sexual rival by other women, the researchers concluded.
In an interview about this study, Vaillancourt told The Globe and Mail,
“We can’t tolerate anyone giving the milk away for free. We are living in a modern context, but we are operating with an old brain. We have this instinctual response to people who defy social conventions in a way that threatens the group.”
“It’s women who suppress the sexuality of other women.”
In background information, the researchers noted that competition among males over sexual access to females has been documented extensively for many species, including humans, while relatively few studies have examined intrasexual competition among women over attention from males.
According to Vaillancourt and her team, these results fill a gap by providing evidence that women also see their sexy counterparts as threatening rivals and react against them aggressively.