I'm 44, which seems old in your world. I get it. But, I am also a mother of 4 kids—3 gorgeous girls ages 19, 16 and 14, and one handsome fella who is 9. What does that matter? Well, it means I am highly qualified to talk on this subject. I have been schooled by my girls, been part of countless conversations around the topic, and seen all the bad stuff that comes from it. Now that you know I know what I'm talking about, let's have a very frank discussion about nudes, shall we?
Boys asking for boob, booty, V-pics or full nudes is not new. That whole dynamic has been around for years. But, it is becoming more common with all kids, and at a younger age. Why do you think that is?
Let me shed some light on this stuff from an old lady perspective—bear with me. Because we didn't have cell phones and really computers growing up, the only way we would have seen the images you all see every day is through porn magazines, which were sold behind the counters at stores and were covered up. Today, it is nothing to see images of girls topless, in thongs, or any other sexy images just by discovering images on Instagram. It's part of people's "daily intake" on social—completely normal. This hardwires our brains into thinking that we need to consume this imagery every day—hence, the whole "addiction" around social. This applies to you and to the guys. So, to put it plainly, by consuming this type of imagery so often, it has become a norm and has completely desensitized our brains.
What does this mean for you? First, it makes it normal and standard to show our bodies in sexy ways that is really more appropriate for an adult audience. It sets up the idea that the only way people can find us desirable is by showing more skin. If that's the case, those are not the people you want to attract anyway! Second, it sets up girls for a standard that is not realistic. What you are seeing are images of girls who use filters, plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures, personal trainers and extreme dieting to receive those results. Yes, there are people with good genetics and who work hard to achieve their fit bodies, but it's not the norm. This sets up girls with an unrealistic body image and can have us starting a dialogue of comparison (ourselves vs other girls) that can result in low self-esteem and poor body image. Sometimes, it can go as extreme as eating disorders to try and achieve this "look."
Now let's talk about the people asking for the pics. Here are some things to consider.
While it may seem flattering, or make you feel desirable, I think it's time you do a reality check. Don't you want to be desired for more than your body? How much value do you place on yourself? Why would you let someone else determine your value in this way? Lowering your standards or cheapening yourself to catch the attention of someone else makes you and your body for sale.
I ask you this... What does your best self look and feel like? How do you want people to think of you? Having your nudes shipped out to your junior class, or one boy who shares it with the whole school, makes you look trashy. It doesn't do anything for your value, and frankly, it doesn't make you stand out as special. Rather, it puts you in the pool of all the other girls who are doing the exact same thing. If a boy won't like you, won't date you or give you the time of day without nudes, he's not worth your time or attention. Ultimately, what may seem like a way to get eyes on you will inevitably make you feel cheap or not good enough. There is truly nothing good that comes from sending those pics.
Now, this is not everyone. There are people who do care about more than just nudes, who actually think you're cool, smart, kind, and have other attributes they value. It may be hard to find these people, but it is much better to seek out people like that than sell yourself short by taking the other route. Think about the people you want in your circle—demand more from your circle, like higher standards and stronger values. If those type of people aren't in your circle, find a better circle.
What they don't tell you is three things: 1.) These pics will live forever on social media if they make it there. 2.) If these pics live on someone's phone, and they turn the phone in, they will be in the hands of perfect strangers (even if they think they have erased them everywhere on their phone). 3.) Sharing these pics is a crime. If your school or the local authority find out these pics have been shared, you can get in trouble with the law and it can show up on your record (as the sender or receiver) as a sex offender. How are you going to explain that to your future college or employer?
Think about it. I urge you to think about the things I've shared. Think about what you consume on social media, and what you feed your brain. Think about how you want people to see you. Think about how you see yourself. If you're lacking in self-esteem, and feel the need to be validated by others, then you need to do some internal work. You have to love and respect yourself, OR NO ONE ELSE WILL.
Ultimately, you dictate your behavior. You don't have to do anything that you don't want to do. You drive your value—no one else can determine that for you. Let your behavior speak well for you and shed good light on you. Hold yourself to a higher standard and have the same standard for those you have in your circle.
Something else they don't tell you: As a young girl or teenager, you have amazing influence on the world around you, and especially with your peers. If you're picking up what I'm laying down and you want to change the conversation and behavior around girls' bodies, images on social media, and speaking out against sending nudes, YOU CAN. Have a voice and share your thoughts. Don't consume the media—the posts, the shows or videos that make this type of imagery a standard. You can change the way the world defines beauty and portrays females. Be more and do more, for yourself and other females.