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The Orion

The nude selfie as an act of sex positivity

Photo+credit%3A+Melissa+Joseph
Photo credit: Melissa Joseph

The leaked nude photo was a nightmare that young women of the previous generation only hoped would never happen to them. Now, many women freely choose to share their own nudes, whether publicly, to a “fake” private Instagram account, or in exchange for profit.

It’s a common facet of my own social media feed to see women posting half-nude photos of themselves. Body positivity and sex positivity have been at the forefront of modern feminism for almost as long as I’ve had an account. In many ways, it has been an important part of sexual liberation for women. The act of choosing when your naked body will be shared and with whom can be a powerful exercise of autonomy.

The power of the nude selfie may come from a chain reaction that occurs when women see other women posting photos of themselves. There’s something about seeing someone shamelessly loving their skin that can provoke a certain self confidence. I’ll admit, I have felt inspired to photograph myself after seeing a mutual follower artfully pose in front of her camera.

With that being said, there is still a lingering thought in the back of my mind that I may not be posting photos for myself. After once posting a topless photo to my own Twitter, I was met with comments that I could have anticipated but hoped were fueled by good intention. The comments and direct messages I received were a mix of praise for my boldness and yearning for me to reveal more.

I eventually took the p\hoto down after it accumulated an uncomfortable amount of likes. When porn accounts started retweeting my photo, I hit a wall. What I was doing didn’t feel like creating porn, but the analytics told me otherwise. At the same time, I saw so many of my peers publicly loving their body that I felt taking it down was an act of insecurity.

While I still do appreciate the act of posting a nude photo for one’s own expression of body positivity, I feel there is an underlying dialogue that should be addressed. There is an assumption that women who show off their bodies are confident while women who choose to cover them lack confidence.

Social media has given women the ability to present themselves however they choose. Yet, society still has the tendency to pathologize their choice of expression. It feels like women are stuck in a limbo of sharing too much or too little — whether we will be viewed as progressive, sex positive feminists or prudish opponents.

What I realized about my own experience with nude-selfie posting was that it had the effect of inflating and deflating a balloon. I felt good while the comments filled my ego like helium, but worse when it became too full and popped. For others, this may not be the experience they have and that’s OK. There is no universal way to love your body.

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