How to send nudes safely

Woman lying on a bed in a nightie
Woman lying on a bed in a nightie

Every so often I like to post a semi risqué picture. Some of these would not be considered particularly revealing by most people today. Me in a two-piece swimsuit, legs slightly akimbo to create a false impression of a thigh gap. Some are a bit more daring, like the one I shared recently using the new ‘Close Friends’ function in Instagram stories. I was in a nightie, a flimsy satin one whose neckline dipped in a deep v edged by a delicate lace. A new friend had created that image one evening in between shots of vodka. ‘Can I take boudoir shots of you?’ she asked. ‘Maybe when I loose 5 kilos’ I had responded, but as the night wore off she turned her lens on me, and I found myself in a series of casual poses: allowing my nightie to slip off my shoulder, lying stomach down on my bed with my nightie bunched around my middle to show off my white and gold waist beads. I was pleased with the images when she shared them with me. I thought I looked beautiful. In a way that I don’t see when I look at my body in the mirror, and so I wanted to share some of those pictures with the world safely. Here is where a new Instagram feature came in handy. I created a ‘Close Friends’ list – many of the people on the list are not close friends by any stretch of the imagination, but people I at least know in real life, and feel comfortable with the idea of them seeing more than a hint of my breast. The reaction of men and women to nudes (or more accurately semi nudes) is always fascinating in its difference. My women friends will tend to send me emoticons that mean ‘fire’, ‘yassss’, ‘you’re killing it’. Men on the other hand (yeah, yeah, I know, ‘not all men’) tend to start a conversation. A lot of the time I am thinking, ‘Oh gosh, can you just like this picture and go?’ but late one night, one such conversation ended with a swap of nudes.

There is no safe way to send nudes. It’s a bit like sex. There’s no such thing as ‘safe sex’. There’s only ‘safer sex’. But I have concluded that if you are going to send nudes, sharing a direct story to a user is a pretty darn good way of doing it. The evidence will disappear in 24 hours…unless of course the person does something like take a picture of the image. Sigh, so even disappearing stories are not a sufficient safeguard.

The other way to take safe nudes is to create images where you are not clearly identifiable as the subject – silhouettes, shots of selected body parts that do not include clearly identifying features like your face or unique tattoos for e.g., and then of course you need to ensure that you retain all the negatives, or ensure that the photographer deletes any copies they may have. The best safeguard is to sign a contract with the photographer before shooting the nudes to ensure that you own all rights to the images created. My favourite nudes ever were created by one of my professional photographer friends soon after my 30th birthday when I wanted to document my body. I finished the shoot with an appreciation for how hard models work. OMG who knew how hard it was to hold distinct poses for over an hour – and in the process try to empty your mind of all self-consciousness about your podgy belly.  Every so often I look at those images, and think, ‘yesssss, I did that’. A few years ago I was on a short weekend break with my (now ex) partner. We took a selfie while lying in bed together, with him cupping my breast to shield it from the eye of the camera. That picture ended up illustrating an article I wrote for the Guardian that same weekend. I hadn’t anticipated that before publishing the image on my public Instagram feed, and I definitely hadn’t imagined that would be an image that would live forever on one of the world’s most significant media platforms. Fortunately I love that picture. That taught me a valuable lesson. Don’t take a nude that you are not willing to show the world.

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