real life

"In defense of naked selfies: 8 reasons I take, share and keep them."

Fun, intimacy and empowerment are just some of the reasons people take nude selfies.

When the news broke about the celebrity nude photos that had been hacked and published online, the topic of naked selfies exploded. This is not something confined to celebrities. Naked selfies are extremely common. But among those of us who don’t take them, there has been some confusion. ‘But why would you do that?’ many people wondered.  And there weren’t too many naked selfie takers willing to step up and explain the appeal. Until now. In conversations this week, someone connected to Mamamia admitted to being a big fan of the naked selfie and took on the challenge (anonymously) of explaining the different reasons she – and her partner, ex partners and many of her friends – are so into photographing themselves naked.   If a hacker broke into my phone today, here is what they would find:

  • Photographs of me making horrible faces;
  • Photographs of weird things I’ve seen on the street;
  • Photographs of my partner – on ferris wheel, on a boat, smiling over dinner;
  • Photographs of my thighs;
  • Photographs of meals I’ve eaten;
  • Photographs of my breasts;
  • Photographs of cute animals;
  • Photographs of my friends’ breasts;
  • Photographs of my partner and I, laughing naked in our bedroom mirror;
  • Photographs of my friends, celebrating;
  • A photograph of my partner’s penis, in a jar.

If they hacked into the phone of my former lovers, they’d find images of my naked breasts in a bubble bath. They’d find me topless, laughing and holding a condom. If I was hacked today, there would be a treasure-trove of nudity to rival all 101 of the women whose intimate moments are now exposed online. And this is why:

1. Taking naked photos is fun. When you’re alone, or with someone you trust, there’s a crackle of taboo that makes it feel sexy, and exciting. An image might be forever, but it also exists in a moment. Taking a photograph allows you to pause, reflect, and say ‘this is us, right now, together.’

2. Naked photos are funny. Human bodies are weird, and a camera phone can capture their secrets at angles your eyes would never travel to.

3. A photograph can make you look and feel awesome. I might feel fat one day, but if I arch my back just-so, and tilt my camera over my shoulder, I can make my booty look like Iggy Azeala’s and feel immediately better about myself.

4. It’s entertaining to look at yourself. Think about a baby in front of a mirror – think about the pleasure they get from watching themselves. Well, taking a photograph can accomplish much the same thing.

5. It’s empowering. Our naked bodies are so loaded. With shame. With desire. With aspiration. We’re told to love our bodies, and in the very same breath, we’re told to hide them. Taking naked photographs helps unpack those mixed messages. For me, it is a way of getting to know my body better. It’s a way of reconciling myself to my skin.


6. It’s a beautiful form of intimacy. Ninety nine per cent of the naked photographs I’ve taken in my life are for nobody’s eyes but my own. Certainly, I’ve shared some, when asked. It’s flattering when someone wants to see you naked, and you want them to see you naked. But most of them? The most intimate of them? They’ve been for my own sake – and like many of the victims of this hacker – they’ve been quickly deleted.

7. They capture memories. I haven’t deleted all of my naked images though. There are plenty of photos that I’ve liked, that remind me of a moment with someone I love, or that I’ve just forgotten to delete.

8. It’s just how we live in 2014. We’ve got the ability to quickly and easily photograph anything and everything. And we do. Being able to capture an image so immediately is still an incredibly novel aspect of being alive. It used to be that days or weeks or even years of work would go into capturing a representation of the world as it was in a moment.

Now, it takes a moment to save a moment. And that’s pretty cool. Like many, many people, I treat my phone as my secret diary – because I can. Those photos are a record of my moods and thoughts and past. I take photos because I’m feeling sensual or silly or simply bored. They’re not the majority of photos on my phone, not by any means. After all, I probably take at least one photo every single day. But they are there.

Surely our bodies, even when they’re naked, shouldn’t be exempt from our new found delight in taking pictures of everything.

In fact – given our fascination with ourselves, given our sex drives, given everything we know about people and the internet – shouldn’t taking naked photographs of ourselves be the most obvious thing in the world? Not necessarily because we want people to see them. Not because we were thinking about the consequences of our actions.

But precisely because we aren’t. Because we think that a phone can be a diary. But mostly, because it’s fun.

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