The naked body is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, few women see their bare bodies that way. Even models and beauty queens have qualms when they stand before a mirror. So no, it’s not that strange that Jennifer Lawrence and a hundred other celebrities are uncomfortable with their (perfect) nude bodies being paraded all over the place.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this piece, because there’s always a possibility that those pretty pictures I sent to that boy I liked could end up in a tabloid, on a porn site, or worse, in the inbox of my daughter’s class teacher. *shudder* I’ve already given her the ‘don’t send nudes to boys’ speech, but love makes people do stupid things. I did, and I know that when her time comes, she probably will too.
That said, it takes a huge amount of trust and confidence to share those pictures with anyone, especially that boy you like. So when he – or someone else – turns around and publishes said pictures, it can destroy you on many different levels.
For a start, let’s look at Shaunna Lane. She’s a regular girl who had bodily insecurities. Her friend is a model, and suggested that Shauna do a nude photo shoot to help her appreciate her body. And it worked. Shauna looked at those photos and saw herself in a whole new light. She finally saw how beautiful she was.
And so – of course – she sent the photos to her boyfriend and forgot all about them. Until a few years later, when the now ex-boyfriend posted those photos online. Along with her details and facebook profile. Unlike celebrities who get insulted and bashed when such things happen, Shaunna is a regular everyday girl. So what happened instead? People sent the photos to her family, threatened to rape her, offered her mother money to have sex with her.
That last past hit me the hardest. I don’t know what I’d do if some random person sent me a message on facebook that 1. had nude photos of my baby, and 2. offered me money for sex with said baby. Honestly, I don’t think all the invisible trolls in the world would save that man – or woman – if I ever got my hands on them. And trust me, an angry digital mother can be every bit as dangerous as Liam.
I saw this article which suggests the whole nude-hacking-revenge-porn industry is all about shame. It says the whole point of revenge porn is to embarrass women for having the gall to enjoy their own nudity. At first, I disagreed with the article. But then I gave it a little more thought. The ex who posted Shaunna’s nude photos online – with her facebook information, did it to hurt her. Lord knows what could have happened. If someone had followed through and actually raped her, would he be happy about it?
And those guys who made rape threats at some woman they had never met, all because they saw her naked without her consent – which is rapey in itself. Let’s talk about them. We all agree that rape is less about sex and more about power. So even if these idle, anonymous guys had no intention or opportunity to actually rape Shaunna, they terrified her simply by saying they’d like to. And wasn’t that their whole point, to intimidate this woman they had never even met?
And WHY did they want her so scared that she couldn’t even leave her house? Because in those photos, she looked confident, and beautiful, and happy. And the idea of some woman they didn’t even know feeling happy with her sexuality bothered them. It bothered them enough that they made the worst possible threat you can make to a woman. They threatened to rape her. They don’t even know her.
There’s the group that responded by sending those photos to her friends, her family, her mother. Why would some stranger see naked pictures of me and suddenly think it’s a good idea to send these pictures to my kid? In his eyes, I should be ashamed of myself. How dare I think my body is beautiful enough to photograph? What liberties will I take next? And so he makes me feel as sad and ugly as him.
The other type of troll. The ones that scrutinised her nudes and made nasty comments about how ugly they thought she was, reviving the very insecurities that the photo shoot had banished. Shaunna was so uncomfortable with herself after the comments that she couldn’t get naked with her own boyfriend. She saw herself through the eyes of the trolls, and she didn’t like what she saw anymore. How ironic.
I have insecurities about my body, just like everyone else. Luckily for me, this has been a good year, and I have finally began to see myself as beautiful, physically, spiritually, sexually. And I’m confident enough with it that if the need arises, I can share my naked body with a man that has my trust and respect.
That said, there is always a fear that a man like that could turn around and put my nudes online, for my daughter, my mother, and all the world to see. So when I started this article, I was thinking … why be ashamed? Why not celebrate your beauty? Because it’s personal. It’s private. If I choose to be naked with a man I care for, a man I’m attracted to, a man I’m sleeping with, then this beauty is for his eyes, not the world’s. Otherwise, we’d all just walk around with no clothes on. Which may or may not be a good idea …
Nudity has different contexts. I was once in a nasty situation that involved being naked in a room full of male nurses. I was having a procedure they didn’t agree with, so they felt it was their duty to humiliate me. I guess they thought it would stop me from doing it again.
They took away my hospital gown and made me stand there naked and bleeding for ten minutes. They leered at me and made nasty comments while I shivered and stared at my toes. They were standing all around me, so no one else could see what was happening. Eventually, the crowd attracted the attention of a female nurse who covered me up and took me to a different room.
The weird thing is I didn’t feel threatened or judged. I was so deep in my own grief that I barely noticed those men. It’s men like that who post revenge porn, and who prey on victims after the fact. They may hide behind the internet, and might never do anything beyond posting trashy comments, but the damage still gets done.
Naked bodies are a beautiful thing. They are nothing to be ashamed of. And when someone chooses to trust you with theirs, you should respect that. If you want revenge, go key their car, burn their clothes, f*ck their (fully consenting) pals, or empty their bank account. But for Cupid’s sake, leave their nude photos alone.
♫ In the rough ♫ Anna Nalick ♫