Selfies have become a part of day-to-day life. I’m guilty of taking them. I’m also guilty of manipulating some of them through the various apps that have been developed to make your pores appear clearer, your nose smaller and your lips fuller. Say goodbye to crow’s feet and other wrinkles. It’s no wonder they say you can’t trust anything on the Internet these days.
I was lucky enough to have grown up during the transition from analogue to digital — well before “selfie” was even in our lexicon. I’m part of the last generation whose childhood photos were taken on disposable cameras. I used to own a Walkman and would record songs from the radio to make a mixtape. I remember the sound of my dial-up modem as it connected to the wonders of the World Wide Web — and my sister’s glee after she took the phone off the hook to purposely disconnect me. I definitely remember my mother’s fury when she’d receive the landline bill.
Then there were mobile phones.
Before I’d even heard of an iPhone (and subsequently couldn’t part from it for five minutes), there was the Sony Ericsson W850i. It was my first mobile on a plan and it was love at first sight. It slid up to reveal its keyboard, its buttons lit up orange and it had a whopping two-megapixel camera!
Each weekend I’d spend at Dad’s, my stepbrother would borrow it and use all my free minutes to flirt with girls. I rarely used it to talk on the phone myself; instead I flirted via SMS.
I’d given my phone number to a boy not long before my eighteenth birthday. We’d been texting back and forth for a few weeks and the messages were becoming increasingly steamy. The moment I’d hear my phone beep I’d leap to read it — and it would take me a solid ten minutes to think of a cheeky reply. (On a side note, I’m eternally grateful the “read” status of Internet-messaging that exists today was not available then.)
I don’t remember when he first asked me to send him a pic. I can’t say for sure if he asked for something risqué right away or if he convinced me slowly. In any case, I’d spend hours finding the perfect angle. If I’d had the technology I do now you can be damn sure I would have edited the shit out of them. Alas, I had to rely on lighting, angles and the low pixel count.
I’ve never understood the desire for nudes.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate how fun they are when you’re sending them to someone as a form of foreplay — or if your relationship is long-distance — but why would you choose a photo over the real thing when you have the option?
I’ve sent nudes to three men in my life; an ex-boyfriend, my current boyfriend, and A* — the boy I was “seeing.” The boyfriends received them for the above reasons. One was overseas on holiday and the other was just a bit of fun to spice up our week.
With A, it was different. The main difference being he always requested them. At 18, I was naïve enough to believe that sending them would somehow bring us closer together. Surely it meant something that he always asked for my face to be in them, right?
Since him, I’ve had a handful of strangers on the Internet ask me for nudes — and I’m certainly not the only one. There’s countless stories out there. Some women have sent them, others haven’t. Some have been shared online. Some have even made the news.
Everyone is always so quick to judge the women who shared them. We tell them, “You should have known better.”
We never say, “He should have been more trustworthy.”
I’ll probably never know for certain if A showed anyone my pictures. I’m not about to contact him simply to ask and I doubt he’d tell me the truth even if I did.
One thing I do know for certain is that I don’t regret sending them; I only regret believing they meant something.
If they were to ever publicly see the light of day, I wouldn’t be embarrassed. They would be far too grainy in this day and age to be worthwhile to anyone — and besides, I perfected those angles.
If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be him for asking for them in the first place. He should be embarrassed that he could have had me a hundred times over, if only he’d made the slightest effort, but instead he chose a picture.
Ladies, if you take nudes, own it. Manipulate them if you want — or don’t. If you don’t take them, that’s okay, too — you shouldn’t have to justify yourself. Do whatever makes you happy. If anyone ever complains, ask them why they aren’t making the effort to come see the real thing.
As incredible as our technology is becoming with every day that passes, nothing will ever be as good as the real thing.
Originally published on Medium.