Anyone with half a brain knows that sending a nude photo of yourself is a really fucking bad idea, which is why, up until recently, I’d never even entertained the idea of doing it. Short of stabbing someone with dull eyeliner pencil (a la that episode of “Snapped” I watched last night) or over drafting your bank account at a strip club (a la why the woman rightfully killed her husband on that episode of “Snapped” I watched last night), sending a nude photo of yourself is arguably one of the worst things you could ever do.
Growing up during the initial surge of home computers and dial up AOL mail, my dad always told my older sisters and me to never put anything online that we wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of “The Washington Post.” Fortunately for him, the worst thing we could’ve done at that time, during that point in internet capability, was to send out “Sims” cheat codes or our Napster password to all of our seven email contacts. Unfortunately for him, we grew up — and so did the internet.
My sisters now, a few years older than I am, are married with babies and living the blissful life of suburbia, complete with gardeners, nannies, beautiful green grass, and lovely white powder fences. Luckily for my father, my sisters, both of whom were married before the dawn of phones with decent picture taking capabilities, avoided any sort of “nude photo” awkwardness when courting their significant others. I, however, am the product of a slightly different generation. A generation that received a Blackberry in high school and would quite literally die without Siri today. A generation that loved sending dirty text messages so much that we quite literally made up a new Webster defined word for it. A generation that is not only completely comfortable with nudity, but absolutely desensitized to vulgarity. We are the generation of sexting. And with the power of sexting, like Uncle Ben said, comes great responsibility: i.e. nudes.
Somehow or another, I avoided this uncomfortable topic of conversation throughout my teens and my early twenties. While my college roommates were bronzing their boobs and sucking in the Chipotle burrito and eleven shots they’d consumed the night before while standing in front of our bathroom mirror in a desperate attempt to take a decent photo of themselves, I was sprawled out on our couch in sweatpants, watching “The Days Of Our Lives,” and telling everyone I lived with that this little photoshoot of theirs was going to come back to bite them in their now naked ass.
I was told I was acting ridiculous. Told I was a worry wart. Told I was overly anxious, absurdly ridiculous, and laughably paranoid — but I didn’t budge. No nudes from this girl. For every disappointment I had caused my father — and there were a lot of them — I figured that this was the least I could do for him. It seemed so easy at the time. Simple, really. Don’t pull a Kardashian: keep your clothes on.
…but then, a few weeks ago, I got curious.
After a drunken phone conversation with my best friend from home, who had informed me that she was surprising her long distance boyfriend with a series of nude photos via text, my interest was sparked. If she could do it, so could I. How fucking hard could it be? I see myself naked all the time. In fact, I spend hours and hours a week standing in front of my bathroom mirror critiquing myself and crying over premature cellulite and oversized pores. Except…I started thinking. If I could see it in the mirror, then couldn’t this man, the recipient of said nonexistent nudes, also see these flaws? The question ate away at me in the same manner I’d consumed my Papa John’s pizza mere hours before my impromptu photo shoot — there were no prisoners, just half eaten crust that I now realized had gotten me to this conundrum in the first place.
As I sat on my bathroom floor, wearing only a towel and losing what small piece of my mind I had left, I had a brilliant idea: self tanner. I attacked my legs with orange goop (as in gunk, not Gwyneth Paltrow, in case you were confused) and the result was a streaky, shiny mess that only seemed to highlight the tiny dimples that seemed to be plaguing what now seemed like my entire body. Whatever. My only move at this point was to shower it off or proceed with this already failing mission and add a filter.
Filter it was. Fuck it, maybe I’d just kick it old school and send a black and white picture. You know, be retro and shit. People do that, right? Like. “Hi. This is me naked. Try not to think of your grandmother. Sorry our physiques are so similar. :/”
This might be the worst nude photo ever taken, but there was no going back. This was my only choice: a photo comparable to a pinup his grandfather had likely pinned to his bunk during WWII. I was channeling a now 85-year-old woman. And I felt as though, even now, one foot in the grave, this bitch was probably still prettier than me. That’s the thing about being forced to think about seeing yourself naked through someone else’s eyes: you start viewing yourself as some sort of mountain troll out of a Brothers Grimm tale. Except there’s no fairy tale ending where a prince kisses you and you turn into a beautiful fairy princess. Oh, no. In this story, you die alone.
After crying for approximately seventeen minutes over the thought of dying surrounded by cats and tear stained discarded polaroids of myself looking like an obese llama, I decided to put myself together. This photo was not going to take itself. I had committed to the project. It was happening.
I spent the next few hours contemplating different hair and makeup styles while simultaneously consuming a bottle and half of white wine. Was my hair supposed to look like I’d already had sex? Was it supposed to look like I was about to have sex? What does hair like that even look like? Can hair look like it’s about to fake an orgasm? I didn’t know. I don’t know. I had so many questions, so I did the only rational thing I could think of: I took to Google.
What the fuck does that mean? “What does sex hair look like with lice?” Who has lice? Why is lice being associated with sex? What is going on?
…Google. I need you. Help me out. Please, for the love of God. Please.
I woke up the next morning, using my bathmat as a blanket, with a pounding headache, a mortifying search history, and only one photo from the night before.
In case you’re wondering, Google, I got the answer to my question: you can’t take a photo in the pitch dark. I tried — and I failed. Thank God.