We’re all doing it and, in this case, you should try and do it too. I’m not peer pressuring you–if you choose not to do it, it’s totally your choice and it’s alright. For most people, though, they find major body positivity and “empowerment” from doing it. So go ahead and take off your clothes, maybe find some props, grab your camera (or friend with a camera) and get artsy. Let’s take some nudes.
Ever since I could remember, nude photos have always been stigmatized. I mean, I totally get Ellen Griswold’s embarrassment at her–uh–less than modest rendition of Big Spender (TBH this was my favorite scene as a kid) when it was stolen and aired in theaters in France, but she wouldn’t have gotten those moves without maybe trying them beforehand in a mirror. She found pleasure in moving her body and didn’t mind showing it off on camera for her husband (even though Clark promised he would erase it). Ellen, in that one moment, felt sexy and confident in her own skin and vibrantly embraced her womanhood.
So why is it that such a stereotype is placed on nude photos and the people that take them?
“The naked body is only sexual if it wants to be.”
“Nude” according to the ever-reliable Urban Dictionary is: “an unclothed human body shown in an especially beautiful, artistic, or idealized manner.” For many, a nude photo can include underwear; playfully covering privates with hands, props (i.e. a blanket) or a playful Emoji (my go-to is the alien); or–in the case of many–full nudity. Either way, “nudity” in nude photos is basically showing more skin than might be considered “acceptable” and, to many, carries sexual connotations.
Most people my age regularly take nude photos of themselves, whether its for a partner, a potential sex partner or–simply so–themselves. People older than me take them and people younger (yes, people YOUNGER than 18) are taking them as well. I mean, I can’t even remember how young I was when I took (and sent my first nude). It was probably high school. But I had boys asking me for them by the time I was 13.
It wasn’t until recently that I began taking nudes solely for my pleasure. No, this doesn’t mean that I’m taking nudes to get off. I’m taking nudes because they make me feel good about my body.
Ironically, I didn’t take enough (if any) nudes when I felt best about my body about two years ago. In fact, I hated taking nude photos of myself because I didn’t want to look at my body. Now, more self conscious about myself than I can remember, I’m taking at least one new photo a week (that’s just on average) because I find that, with the right angles, I can make my body look how I want and accentuate my better parts and, doing that, makes me feel really great.
“Taking and sending nudes makes me feel empowered and beautiful, confident, and carefree.”
Just like rumors, though, I’ve had my nudes spread from person to person. In high school, I learned to be extremely careful to whom I sent any pictures. Now, though, that I’ve achieved a stronger nude game, I basically have a “nudes mailing list” for all of my friends. I mean, you know you’re my true friend if you’ve at least seen my tits.
My point is, nude photos are a thing we should be celebrating. Hell, half of the most famous paintings from the Renaissance and Enlightenment period are of naked figures (so, they’re like, the original nudes). Rose posed for Jack in the name of art (and partially in the name of seducing, but what’s a nude if there isn’t some kind of meaning behind it?) and it’s become one of the most famous scenes in movie history.
Why, then, are women being shamed for taking nude pictures of themselves? (Because, let’s face it, when a guy takes a nude, he isn’t shamed for it…at least in the way a woman is.) Why are people being called “sluts” or “man whores” for sharing their nudes with someone/someones? And why, dear God, did Vanessa Hudgen’s payroll get docked after that nude she took for Zac (Zanessa 4 eva) leaked on the Internet? (And why the fuck was it rumored that she took it with the intention for it to go viral??)
My thing is, people can take nudes and still be good people. In fact, most people that take nudes are much happier–and better people–in general.
“Most of the time I take nudes for my own pleasure. Just so I can look at them and say ‘damn, I look hot.'”
Taking nude pictures of yourself, then, is a great way to promote body positivity, increase sexual pleasure and learn more about your body.
Nudes and loving your body.
Most of the people who sent me their quotes for this blog used the word “empowered” or “empowering” when describing how they feel when taking nude photos of themselves, and it’s true. Think of it this way: when you take a cute selfie of yourself, you feel great about your looks. You share it on social media and receive compliments and, hell, a good selfie can improve anyone’s day.
Now think abut this, but in the context of nude pictures. It’s the exact same way except, instead of focusing on your face, you’re focusing on your naked body–something that most people are extremely self conscious about. Taking a good picture of your body (or a part of your body) can help boost your self esteem, just by looking at it. Ultimately, taking nudes (even without sharing them) is the best way to promote body positivity because it encourages you to take a look at, and appreciate, the way your body looks. And nothing feels better than loving your body.
“Despite the fact that I’m asexual, I still occasionally take nude pictures to feel good about myself.”
Nudes and sexuality.
It’s no question that nudes are usually associated with sex and–especially for women–there’s no question as to why that is. The human body is hyper-sexualized and, in a nation that tends to be more conservative about sexuality, this isn’t a good thing. Many people are, understandably, nervous about taking nude pictures of themselves. What if you’re considered a sexual freak? A whore? What if taking nudes means you don’t respect your own body? There are so many negative things to be said about nudes, but let’s focus on the positives and the way nudes can increase your sexual health.
“Knowing that I can please and tease my boyfriend is such an uplifting pleasure. Not to mention, being in a long distance relationship, it keeps things spicy even when I can’t be there in person.”
Taking nudes (even if just for ourselves) not only makes us feel great, but it typically makes us feel sexier as well. Even if the photo isn’t taken in a sexual manner or pose, simply believing that our bodies look great only increases our sexual confidence. This can make it a lot more fun when we have sex with someone for the first time, or for the first time in a long time.
Sending nudes with people you trust also helps tie a relationship. Sex is an extremely important part of any romantic relationship, no questions asked. It bonds a couple and allows for a more tight-knit, personal relationship. This can be hard for long-distance couples or, for instance, couples that are choosing not to have sex yet. This is when nudes play an important role. Nudes help keep the sexual pleasures and fantasies alive during all types of relationships, especially long-distance or long-term relationships.
Nudes promote body positivity and sexuality in a way that is different from the act of sex itself. They’re able to sustain a healthy relationship with another person or yourself.
Your nudes, yourself.
Sadly, most of us are under educated about our own bodies, thanks to the lack of quality sex education in schools nowadays. Nudes are a great way to finally educate yourself about the anatomy of your body or the anatomy of your partner’s body.
Nudes are, simply, a great way to explore and better understand your own body instead of staring at textbook examples that don’t accurately represent you.
“It’s validating in a broad sense to just be able to point and shoot any angle of your body whenever. Plus they [nudes] help you figure out how to best accentuate what you’ve got as far as manscaping, although this applies to everyone.”
There are many reasons to question even taking nude photos of yourself, especially if you’re considering sending them to other people. As I mentioned before, I had some photos passed around of me in high school and, unfortunately, this is a pretty common occurrence, especially for high school-aged teenagers. For teens, receiving nudes is an exciting experience and, some people are most definitely not to be trusted, especially when we possess the technology that we have today. It’s simple for a guy to take any nudes he’s received of a girl and simply forward them to a select group of friends, who then forward them to friends, who then forward them to more friends, etc. Or, for the especially cruel, I’ve seen teen girls have their nudes posted by ex-boyfriends on social media after a scandalous breakup. So, for women mainly, it’s especially scary to send nudes.
But what about just taking them? With devices such as our iPhones offering convenient storage options that share among members of the same plan, Flickr allowing automatic uploads to your account and–well–nosy friends, having any nudes even on your phone can be a stressful experience. (Thought: maybe this is why Polaroid cameras have become popular again?)
It’s definitely understandable why someone wouldn’t want their nude body circulated or discovered by other people. Regardless of your sexuality, openness or upbringing, for most people, nakedness is considered a vulnerability and something that is to be kept private, not to be shared with the masses.
Men and nudes.
Speaking mainly about women at this point, what would a man’s fear be when taking or sending nudes? Men, as expected, share similar doubts about the quality of their body just as women do. Some men may also experience trust issues when sending women nudes though, in my case, they tend not to (I’ll dedicate an entire post on receiving un-wanted nudes). When speaking to one of my friends while writing this post, he brought up an extremely interesting point regarding men, nudes and sexting. I had never really considered that men would ever be self conscious about sending nude photos or sexting a girl well, because, in my experience, they’re always so eager to do so.
“As a guy, I think the big issue we have with showing girls our naked bodies is that if she isn’t into it she’ll think it’s stupid, whereas girls know guys will predominantly enjoy what they’re shown…”
It had never occurred to me–until this point–that men might be self conscious of women’s opinions on their pictures and approaches to sexting, but it makes complete sense. As a woman, I typically don’t care to receive nude pics of men so, when I do, I don’t typically *enjoy* it. What will he be thinking when my response is not as excited as he might have hoped it to be?
This is also an extremely valid reason for men to not want to send nudes; however, taking nudes for personal reasons is just as important for men as it is for women.
Embracing your nudes.
“Like yes hello that’s my body I’m not ashamed.”
What we need to learn, as individuals, is that our bodies are unique, beautiful and to be cherished. What we need to learn as a society, in America, is that nudity is not something to sexualize in unnecessary situations nor is it something that we should take for granted, betraying someone else’s trust. No one should ever feel ashamed for loving their body enough to take pictures of it.
A body is a body, but bodies are so different and enchanting and, if you’ve never taken time to love your body by taking nudes, you’re missing out on a truly enlightening experience.
Don’t be ashamed of your body, your sexuality, what you choose to do in your private time. Be proud that you are confident, attractive and a happy, healthy, sexual human being.
“I like nudes because they make me feel confident and good. It’s skin, we’ve all got it and it’s extra fun to share. I think everyone has the divine right to their own body.”
Beginning your quest for nude nirvana.
Starting to take nudes (or getting back in the game) can be kinda hard to do. For starters, the (iPhone) camera truly does add ten pounds and that’s definitely not the first thing you want see when you begin. But it takes one bad nude to encourage you to take multiple good ones, and that’s where the love of nudes begins.
Accentuate your favorite body parts in your pictures. If you don’t like your stomach, no one is forcing you to take a full-body mirror pic–don’t take pictures of your stomach! It’s as easy as that. If you like your boobs, your butt, your hips, your chest (for guys), etc. just play those up in your pics!
Wear what you feel comfortable in–or don’t wear anything at all! You don’t have to be completely nude. If you’d rather be wearing underwear or covering your parts, that’s totally and 100% acceptable. These pictures are to make YOU feel good and whoever is receiving them (if anyone is receiving them) should just be appreciative that you sent any.
Work on your best angles by practicing different positions. Whether it’s lying down, sitting up or having a friend take them for you, figuring out what is your best angle on camera can only work to improve how you look. This doesn’t mean that you’re “altering” yourself to look better, it just means that you’re accentuating your best (and favorite) parts!
If you ever choose to share your nudes, make sure you share them with someone you are comfortable with. This could include your friend, group of friends or partner. Never feel pressured to send people pictures of yourself and, if that person is ungrateful for what you sent them (i.e. “c’mon show a little more skin” or “quit teasing me”), drop them immediately.
In the long run, nudes are for you and they can, in the end, be only for you.
Nudes are meant to help you grow as an individual and embrace your body as it is. Choosing to share them with other people is only some “extra fun” and should only be done when you are completely confident with your body and happy with your pictures. Making sure to be happy with yourself before sharing pictures with others will allow you to be more confident in your body and it will promote your own body positivity.
So I guess there is no “nirvana” for nudes, because they’re always getting better. There’s really no point where you reach a literal nirvana because of nudes, but there is a point where you feel entirely confident about yourself and–that–is the ultimate reward.
Because being happy in your own skin can only improve your sense of self.
“[Taking nudes makes me feel] empowered. I love showing myself off to people I trust.”
I would like to thank all of the people who volunteered their personal opinions on taking and sending nudes. I really believe your input made this post a lot better. -xx
Image Courtesy of: Tumblr