the art of the naked selfie - trey songz

Step up your seductive selfie game

In 2013, the word “selfie” was entered into the Oxford Dictionary, after years of people taking self-portrait pictures with their mobile devices and sharing them with others mobile-to-mobile and online. Instant transmission and unlimited data plans have made it much easier to snap a picture, upload it, and share it with a friend, lover, or the entire Internet-connected world.

The process is so easy that many of us out here take naked pictures and share them with folks we either deeply trust or don’t know from a can of paint. There are pros and cons to sending “nudes,” of course, and here are some etiquette tips on taking the best pictures and avoiding major embarrassment.

Know Your Angles

A picture is worth more than 1,000 words, so pay special attention to capturing the most flattering image possible. Start by practicing taking your selfies from different angles and in various poses. You’ll likely find that some angles come across better when captured than others, and you’ll feel more confident about how you look in the image. No one has to know it took you 50 tries to get the perfect picture; all that matters is that you put your best body part forward.

If taking pictures of your breasts, for example, a sexy bra makes a picturesque adornment. Find a color that compliments your skin tone and really makes your boobs stand out, and pick an alluring texture, like a peek-a-boo lace. If you don’t want to cover up, consider setting the camera’s timer and playing around with how you hold them. Lift them, grab them, or pinch the nipples—get familiar with your body and have fun with it.

If taking pictures of your penis, let’s keep it real—you likely want to show off your size. If you can brag about length, you want to make sure it translates in pictures. Some men line up their junk next to remote controls or lotion bottles, and while it sounds cheesy, some people are actually turned on by being able to connect with a common household object. If girth is your strong point, point your camera downwards and maximize the width in the frame. I believe erect is best for these selfies, but some guys get by with flaccid penises because they’re packing like stallions. I’m not judging.

Consider the Bigger Picture

The absolute worst things I see in selfies are filthy mirrors and messy backgrounds with clothes and trash thrown all over the place. If you’re habitually messy and don’t clean regularly, you have other priorities that come before taking naked pictures. If you’re in the moment and feeling yourself, make sure you don’t completely ruin the whole picture by posing in front of dirty underwear or a mirror filled with toothpaste splashes and hard water stains. It takes less than five minutes to get it together, so put in some effort to not come off as trashy, literally.

You control your image, you set the stage, and you decide who is invited to your show. Always consider what’s at risk and what you have to lose should your naked pictures get out.

Some may disagree, but I recommend leaving your face out of your pictures, and if you have any uniquely identifying marks (such as tattoos), I recommend doing what you can to cover those up or crop them out of the picture. You might be thinking, “Well, how will the recipient know it’s me?” If sharing with an intimate lover, chances are great that the person can recognize your body in a picture. If you’re sending it to a new boo with whom you’ve been building a textual relationship, he or she is simply going to have to take your word for it, because it’s too soon to send all-inclusive pictures. Besides, snapshots of body parts play up the alluring mystique, and the suggestive nature leaves them wanting more.

Proceed With Caution

Here’s where things get tricky. You must know that any and everything you put online is forever, and can absolutely come back to haunt you. I think most Internet users have regretted something they’ve written or posted online, wishing they can take it back. A naked picture can either ruin one’s career or launch it, so vetting the recipients is extremely important. How well do you know this person? How comfortable are you on this social media platform? How secure are you in your sexual agency that you can handle the picture ending up in your mother’s inbox or as a Tumblr meme?

It’s worth having conversations with the intended recipient about your apprehension and getting a verbal agreement to keep things private. Is this a guarantee? Absolutely not, but the person can’t pretend you didn’t say, “Don’t leak my nudes!”

We see a lot of “exposing” on social media, usually after relationships turn sour, particularly in a phenomenon called “revenge porn.” This is when someone takes sexually explicit images and shares them publicly, usually online, without consent. And guess what? It’s against the law in an increasing number of states. Even if you can bring charges against someone for leaking your nudes, however, chances are the damage has already been done, and you will be forced to deal with the aftershocks.

So what should you do if your nudes are leaked? Well, you could simply refuse to comment or deny, especially if there are no identifying markers in the picture. That can backfire if the person proceeds with screenshots that prove you sent it though, so be mindful. Remaining silent and not dignifying the revelation with a response forces attention back onto the person who leaked them. Most people agree that leaking nudes is a violation, so you’ll likely have a lot of support.

You can claim the nudes, explain that you sent them in confidence, express your feelings of betrayal, and ask that people stop spreading them. That’s a tough pitch, but there are still some decent people out there. You can also own them and let them run—hey, some of us don’t feel bad with people seeing us naked. Many folks post naked (or nearly naked) pictures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook anyway, so what’s another? No one likes to feel “exposed,” but some are better equipped to wade the tide of jokes and backlash. So if that’s you, run with it.

If you take away anything, let it be that you control your image, you set the stage, and you decide who is invited to your show. Always consider what’s at risk and what you have to lose should your naked pictures get out. Even if you feel no shame about your nudity, your employer might take issue with how that reflects upon the company, for example. If you’re free to let your freak flag fly, heed my earlier advice and make your naked selfies images that rival the best centerfolds.

Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.