By Lucy Wormald (she/her)
Lifestyle and Culture Editor
You are in bed having an important pre-dinner nap when the request dings through your inbox. It is phrased politely, has the casualness of the well-versed, and is straight to the point.
Send a pic?
The request is instantly thrilling, sexy and sensual, albeit slightly at odds with the slovenly picture you are curating right now. The half-eaten bowl of noodles infusing the air with subtle notes of chicken and the overflowing laundry basket at the foot of your bed are not super conducive to the creation of sexyvibes. However, the texter is of significant sauciness in your life. You trust them and you think you may even love them. A pic is a warranted wish and one you are keen to grant.
Outside your window a dog is barking. Cars are tooting and your flatmate is taking out the bins. The world is oblivious to the fact that inside your tiny wooden walls some serious art is about to be made.
You jump out of bed and strip. The air is brisk. For a second as you stand cold and exposed in your room you consider: what the fuck am I doing? And then you realise the chill is making your nipples look fantastic.
As you crouch down in front of your mirror and twist on the carpet (which you haven’t vacuumed in five weeks and is inches away from your nethers), you again wonder exactly how you have found yourself here at 4:36pm in the afternoon. The light and common sense of daytime is not forgiving. As you catch yourself having an out of body moment, gazing down at the small and pale form contorting in front of her mirror, you praise the lord no one is privy to a behind-the-scenes exclusive of this process.
You close the curtains. Alight the bedside lamp.
The mood shifts dramatically. The room is hush and anticipatory as the air around you begins to seemingly glitter. The light from your lamp is hitting you softly, bouncing shadows in all the right places. Your skin looks dewy and supple. Your face is adequately and mysteriously absent. The background is pleasantly framed, no week-old cups or used tissues (tactically to the side) litter the scene. You have instead captured a monstera frond and a stack of Kerouac - a mise en scène that nonchalantly informs your beau you are sexy in body and mind. Undoubtedly the work of an Old Master, you take the picture and send it. Euphoric with your own sexiness you pretzel into the next spicy position only to realise it’s a fine, fine line between Modigliani maiden and gargoyle.
If I recall my Year 12 art classes correctly, we can study the artistic nude to learn about different aspects of society, ideas about beauty, morality, gender, and love. Classically, female nudes embodied the divinity of procreation whilst male nudes reflected on the perfect human athlete (an artful shading of sexism here.) In an age where the nude is a common form of flirting and a year where intimacy has become ever more technological, the humble pecker and the naked nunga-nunga are seeing an artistic renaissance not experienced since Michelangelo unveiled David’s bits to the whole of Florence. So what can a downward shot of a red and slightly angry looking penis tell us about the state of humanity today? Whilst many may deny taking nudes is art, I argue that photographing the body is as much an artistic expression as carving it out of marble. Today, the expression is a juicy concoction of self-determination, vulnerability and exploration.
University of Arizona researcher Morgan Johnstonbaugh, says people find nudes empowering because you can create a space where you feel safe expressing and authoring your sexuality and your body. Viewing your body in a way that you want to be seen and admired can help build self-appreciation. A healthy sprinkle of “wows” and “goddamns” in response to your nudes sure doesn’t hurt your body confidence either.
Whoever in the paragraphs above detailed her afternoon boudoir shoot (it wasn’t ME mom i swear, I don’t send nudes dw!!), has always struggled with reconciling sexiness with her body. Capturing it through the lens and appraising it from an artistic standpoint has made her feel confident and powerful on multiple occasions, and also experience an unfamiliar moment of safety within vulnerability. As long as it’s solicited or consented to, sending someone a picture of your naked body is a wonderfully human indication of horniness, a self-curated expression of sexuality, and a celebration of the human form. Go forth, send nudes. Make Michelangelo and me proud.