Remember the cell phone hacking scandal of 2014, when a bunch of woman celebrities had their nude selfies leaked? I’ll admit it at the time I wondered, ‘Why the HELL would you keep NUDE selfies on your cell phone??”

Um, fast forward a few years and my phone is crammed… and I mean CRAMMED with nude selfies, right alongside pictures of my kids, my storefront and various Brooklyn sunsets. Like, when people ask to see pics of my kids I have to cup my hands around my phone and scroll through about a couple dozen nude selfies before I get to them.

So what’s the deal? How did this happen?

Well some of it is that I’m on a post-pregnancy weight loss journey. They say the best way to tell that your body is changing is not the scale, but the tape measure + photo evidence. I like to ‘check in’ with my body every once in a while to see how things are coming along. But the other thing? Simple curiosity and mild fascination.

As women we’re often disconnected from our bodies. And I think part of the reason is that nudity is highly sexualized for us. (This is why women who breastfeed in public are often accused of trying to turn men on.)

Actress Alia Shawkat recently referenced this in a conversation about the Harvey Weinstein sex abuse scandal.

Shawkat added that she’s made it her mission to be intentional about the sorts of projects she’s willing to write and work on. She’s especially interested right now in showing the unsexy, very normal side of female nudity. “I want to be able to have saggy boobs and be taking a shit on a toilet in a scene,” she said. “Someone asked me, ‘Do you feel weird being naked?’ and I said, ‘I don’t feel weird being naked, I love my body, and it has its problems and it changes a lot.’ I want to make sure there’s nudity not just in the sex scenes, but just when [the characters] are talking. It’s about us being able to tell those stories.”

And that’s the thing. The nude selfies in my phone aren’t sexual. They’re not there to send to some guy — although there’s nothing wrong with that. They’re a normalization of nudity and a refusal to be detached from my body. Some days I just wonder what my butt is looking like, or my tits. And I snap a picture. Some days I am relaxing topless and think I look really pretty, so I snap a picture to capture that moment. I don’t see my nude selfies as really that different from my face selfies. In both instances I am trying to capture myself in a moment in time. Some with clothes, some without.

I’ve come a long way from judging women who chose to document their bodies however they see fit. But I’m throwing the question out to you. Why do you think face selfies are considered okay and normal, but nude selfies are not?

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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6 Comments on "For Discussion: Why Aren’t Nude Selfies Considered as Normal as Face Selfies?"

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Alix Prowlz
I will be honest, I clicked on this discussion out of sheer curiosity. I figured that it was a typo of sorts. Midway through, you had me asking the EXACT same question. Then, you answered it. A man can be shirtless in public and it is no problem. HELL, a woman just doesn’t wear a bra and she is either objectified or ridiculed (All depending on if her breast size, nipple placement, perkiness is adequate). You shone a light on an overlooked subject. And as a liberated woman, you got me unashamed of my own “Nudie” album on my phone… Read more »

What is with all these ads on mobile that can’t be closed out of??

Slut O\'Crat

Because Western society has sexualised nudity, when there’s nothing sexual about it at all. We’re conditioned to see the nudity of anyone older than a toddler as shameful, dirty and wrong, and adult nudity as being all of those things plus also sexy- especially female adult nudity.


umm I don’t get it

I think it depends on the person. I know a lot of people on Instagram who share nude non-sexual shots of themselves just as much as they share selfies. They normalize their sexuality and it’s not a big deal to them so it doesn’t become a big deal to other people. I’m sure most people have some sort of nude shots in their phones (for whatever reason), but I think the answer comes from when you said, “Like, when people ask to see pics of my kids I have to cup my hands around my phone and scroll through about… Read more »