By Emma Barker
In the midst of the hacked naked celebrity photos scandal (Don’t look them up!), many have voiced the — horrible, no good, very bad — opinion that if you don’t want your nudes leaked for the world to see, you shouldn’t take nudes in the first place. These people are desperately out of touch.
This week, Cosmopolitan.com conducted a survey of 850 readers — 99 percent female, with an average age of 21 — about taking naked pics. Eighty-nine percent have taken nude photos of themselves at some point. And of those readers, only 14 percent regretted taking the pics, and 82 percent would do it again. (Then again, 91 percent of them had never had those nude photos leaked to a wider audience.)
We asked some of the respondents to share their stories anonymously.
I love taking naked photos
“My boyfriend and I go to different universities. We are both juniors now, and we have learned a lot about how to make our long distance relationship work. At first, I was nervous to send him pictures, but once I did it and realized how fun it is, I haven’t regretted it.
Trust is the key to sending pictures. If you have any doubts about your relationship, you shouldn’t send them (at least not with your face in them). I have been dating my boyfriend for four years now and I completely trust him, so I have no problem sending him pictures. It is a fun way to let him know when I am horny. It’s also a great confidence boost when I’m not feeling very hot to have my man tell me how great I look.”
“I’m an artist. I primarily talk about health and body image within my work. Taking nude photographs of myself has been a source of healing from some of the trauma I experienced having childhood cancer. It led to many body image issues. These photos helped me turn my back on my insecurities and make art that encourages other women to turn their backs on their insecurities too.”
“I was one of those women that vehemently opposed nude photos. After dating a particular guy and after some convincing, I caved and took some. After we broke up, that was the first thing I became worried about and regretted it.
Now, I don’t regret it and will probably do it again, but with more censorship. Taking those nude photos boosted my self confidence, made me more comfortable with my sexuality, and improved my sex life.”
I had a terrible experience with naked photos
“I didn’t mind taking nude pictures for my then-boyfriend. After we had a nasty breakup, I freaked out. What was he going to do with all of those pictures? I asked him to delete them, but he refused. He said they were his ‘property’ now and he can do whatever he wants with them. I don’t know if he put them online or not — nothing comes up when I search my name — but I am a lot more cautious now.”
“When I was a sophomore in high school, I sent a full-body naked picture to a close guy friend of mine, with whom I’d always had a somewhat flirty relationship. I didn’t really want to take or send them, but I figured why not? He’s a nice, trustworthy guy. I was 15 years old, and naive to the consequences of a naked picture of myself being in someone else’s possession. He said I looked sexy and said he had deleted the picture. Then months later the picture was texted back to me from a number I didn’t know. I knew this meant it had gotten out there and I tracked down the number, eventually learning it was a friend of a friend from a neighboring town.
Eventually I learned this picture had circulated through the phones of just about every guy I had ever met … and by senior year of high school, everyone I knew also knew what I looked like naked. It was absolutely mortifying, and at age 22, I’m still suffering the consequences. There’s so much more to the story I think other girls could learn from.”
“My picture got out because my best friend went through a guy’s a phone and forwarded them to herself. She used the photos as blackmail to get a lot of people to hate and judge me. I involved the cops and the photos were eventually deleted. Going through something like that isn’t easy though. Let’s just say we aren’t friends anymore.”
My naked photos were leaked
“In high school, I liked a senior on the soccer team and he asked me for naked pictures. I wanted to show him how mature and hot I was (I was a sophomore), and so I took them. They were up on the soccer locker room bulletin board within 24 hours. The coach even saw them and apparently laughed and told the guys to take it down, but didn’t do anything about it himself.”
“I took pics in bed with my boyfriend at the time. After we broke up, he put one on Facebook to try to blackmail me into taking him back. Yeah right! I reported them all for nudity. After they didn’t immediately come down, I called his mom. She worked her magic! Love that woman.”
“My photos were taken from my phone by a hacker and another male sent them to my boyfriend and said, ‘Hey, your girl looks nice.’ It almost ruined my relationship.”
“My boyfriend didn’t have his phone at the time but could use Wi-Fi, so I sent him nudies through an app called GroupMe. It was like our own personal chat room. Little did I know the app has a website and all the pictures could be accessed there too! We stopped using the app to send pics forever.”
“Last year, there was a thread on the website anonIB containing pictures of myself that were two or three years old, which made it even more unsettling. The thread turned into a picture trading frenzy of other girls in town. It was like an online version of trading baseball cards with your friends, but instead they’re trading nude pictures of girls for everyone to see. Just because you took a naked picture of yourself doesn’t make you a slut, doesn’t mean you’re easy, and it sure as hell does not define you as a person.”