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For Discussion: Why Aren’t Nude Selfies Considered as Normal as Face Selfies?

• Nov 8, 2017

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?

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

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Ayo
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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 »
Maverick
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“Normalization comes from people acting like it’s normal.” Well, sometimes, that’s true. Sometimes, it’s not. When some woman’s casually walking naked in NYC, just for garnering attention, she may be acting like it’s perfectly normal, but she KNOWS her exhibition isn’t normal, because everyone else is dressed, and, normally, humans don’t walk around naked. It’s all about context, intent, and one’s action that makes a situation “sexualized” or “normalized.” And it’s not always about how even OTHER people react to it, too. Again, as with my example, sometimes someone’s deliberately trying to tease and test what’s normal, all for the… Read more »
George
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I love your final point! Why should we be ashamed of it? I’m a nudist, and a lot of my friends and family know. So, if they’re looking through my pics, why should I be embarrassed about my non-nudist friends seeing? I think I’m going to make a point of not worrying about it.

idk
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umm I don’t get it

Slut O'Crat
Guest

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.

Maverick
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There’s NOTHING sexualized about nudity? Like, NOTHING at all? NEVER, under ANY circumstance? Because nature (biology) would like to have a word with you. The sexualization of nudity is about context. You know this. I know you know this. When you’re taking a shower, you’ re not being sexy. When you want to be sexy, you use your nudity in tantalizing ways. Our bodies aren’t just practical machines for survival and procreation–there’s an objective, obvious tone of sexual traits to complement our practical bodies. You’re not just curvy as women for the benefit of nursing young. You’re also curvy for… Read more »
Elle
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What is with all these ads on mobile that can’t be closed out of??

Alix Prowlz
Guest
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 »
Von
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I still consider nude selfies to be different from face selfies–for myself. (Anyone else, hey–do you.) I’m proud of my body, but at the same time I don’t feel the need to document or display it for the heck of it (something that’s becoming increasingly commonplace in this era of “sharing EVERYTHING.”) IMO, my nudeness is something intimate that’s just for me & mine. Also, say what you want–but keeping pics like that on your phone does keep you vulnerable to them potentially falling into the wrong hands or eyes. If that possibility doesn’t bother, however–click away!

Maverick
Guest
It’s not so much that “.…face selfies are considered okay and normal, but nude selfies are not” more than it’s “face selfies are not secondary sexual characteristics, while private parts are.” Granted, whatever someone does with their own phone is their business, and nobody else’s business. But I think part of what’s created the whole “leaked” culture is how prevalent exhibitionism has become in our society. Basically, BECAUSE we are such a sexualized society, both by industry and by personal choice, there’s not a chance of “desexualizing” the appearance of a stranger’s candid nudes. Quite honestly, I don’t even think… Read more »
Yeah
Guest

Probably because you don’t see a woman or mans nude body in a daily basis? You can see a persons face everyday so of course it’s a new experience when people see someone’s nude body instead. That being said, bikini/beach/gym pictures are ok and people are barely covering ‘intimate areas’ in those. So I don’t think that it’s wholly due to a demonisation of the nude body. In part it’s that we’re not used to it

Milan
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Most people are taught to be sheepish and judge mental about nudity and totally objectify women when it comes to nudity. When I was in Cuba over the summer, I visited this popular art gallery in Havana called FAC and it was filled with quirky, avant- garde art. One of the pieces consisted of portraits of a bunch of 60+ years young women naked. The people in my group there were in their 50’s and 60’s and were acting so immature to me. I was like omg, it’s just a body. But even they subconsciously reacted in a way that… Read more »
Christian Hume
Guest

Excellent discussion and perspective!

NoNo
Guest

Its not needful . Do what u want in priviate and with tyour device. But dont force the sight of it on those of us who dont care for it.

NoNo
Guest

Think about how nudes being normalized would affect the everyday imagery we see .
With the normalization of nudes ‚there will be no filtering in media any longer.You could see a completely nade man or woman on the tv screen in a commercial while u watch with your family.
Dating profiles could be a complete nude.
As i said its not needful it be as normal as a face selfie,its emporing enough to just be comfortable to have them on your device and/or send them to your partner.

NoNo
Guest

I should’ve put “emporing ” in quotations.
Here’s an article on why nudtiy isnt emporing for women

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/we-shouldnt-equate-nudity-to-empowerment

1 of the points the author made was how women fought and still fight agsinst sexual objectification so nudity cant be empowering.
Here on this very topic we’ve reasoned that when spoted naked women are sexualized/ojectified ‚normalizing nudty wont help anything.

olyvia
Guest

In a perfect world nudity would be cool but i’d rather just keep it to myself. i don’t like being lusted after or sexualized it makes me uncomfortable and i don’t want to unknowingly attract a husband’s wandering eye. if these things weren’t issues it would be different you know? just my beliefs as a Christian. but I think having nude selfies for yourself is totally fine. i don’t think nudity for men should be normal if it’s not like that for everyone

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