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Should You Send a Nude Photo? The Pros and Cons of Sharing a Naked Selfie

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A Fonte is a professional researcher, fact-checker, and content strategist who predicts, investigates, and answers questions for a living.

Should you send a nude photo? Read this list before you press "send"!

Should you send a nude photo? Read this list before you press "send"!

The Possible Benefits of Sending Sexy Photos

The pros of sending a sexy selfie are simple: It might be fun. Ideally, if all turns out as planned, that sexy photo could lead to sexy words and possibly more. Fun!

According to Emily Nagoski, sex educator and author of Come As You Are: Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, it happens like this: "Arousal first, then desire." She says 30% of women and 5% of men experience responsive desire, which means their urge for sex is triggered by something external (touch, sight, sound, etc.) rather than from within.

In other words, the feeling of being desired is what turns them on. And that's where the sexy selfie comes in. Sending one might light the flame, and the other person's reaction fuels the fire.

Ideally, sending a sexy selfie is fun, playful way to generate desire and feel good about yourself. But of course, it doesn't always turn out that way. Below, you'll find 9 questions to help you get the pros and prevent the cons of sexting.

9 Questions to Ask Before You Send That Nude Selfie!

Flirting with a new person is so exciting—whether it’s a new Tinder match or an old flame. Sometimes you might get caught up in the heat of the moment and do something you normally wouldn't do. It's like standing on a diving board, deciding to jump: Sometimes, a daring act ends well and leads to fabulous fun. Other times, you end up slapping down, falling flat, and sinking like a stone.

So should you send that nude selfie or not?

Will it lead to hot adventures or hot embarrassment? That is the question. But in order to answer, here is a list of 9 other questions that need to be answered first.

  1. Why do you want to send it? See the list of reasons below.
  2. Is the photo identifiably you? Does it show your face, tattoo, or granny's floral sofa?
  3. Can you really consent? Are you drunk or underage, for example?
  4. Is the photo solicited or unsolicited? Avoid the latter.
  5. Have you considered all the risks? See full list below.
  6. Is the recipient responsible and trustworthy? What if you're not sure?
  7. How would you feel if this photo were made public?
  8. How will you send it? Which way is safest?
  9. What could you send instead of a nude pic? See list of fun options below.

If there's anyone out there with a finger hovering over the "send" button on that cute, sexy selfie, read on!

1. Why Do You Want to Send It?

Before you send a nude photo, you will certainly want to understand your own motives for doing so. If you don't why you're doing something, if you do it unconsciously, without reflection, then chances are you'll regret it.

Reasons for sending a sexy photo:

  • Because they asked you to send them a nude photo. Just because someone asks doesn't mean you have to do it. This is a great opportunity for you to say "no" if you don't want to merely capitulate. If you'd send it even if they didn't ask, then that's probably a good sign: that means that sending it is something you'd choose on your own volition. But if you'd never independently choose to send a nude photo, then maybe it's not a great idea to let others sway you this way and certainly, if the idea of it fills you with terror, then definitely don't do it.
  • Because you'll feel cute, sexy, desirable, and/or lovable. Everyone likes a little ego boost now and then, but take a minute or two to examine your motive here. Ask yourself this: To whom am I giving the power to make me feel good about myself? Is this person worthy of having power over my self-esteem?
  • Because you want them to like you. No. Just no. If you're not sure he likes you, then don't do it. Only send a photo if he likes you already.
  • Because you're bored. Yes, sometimes you might find yourself flirting just because there's nothing else to do, but don't fool yourself. Don't get caught up in these games and lose yourself just because you don't have anything else to do.
  • Because you're feeling low and want a little pick-me-up. Attention is nice. Having someone go oooh and ahhh and ga-ga about you can be a great ego boost. There may be better ways to make yourself feel better about yourself.
  • Because you want to. You like them. You're having fun and enjoying your body. You like this sexy, playful back-and-forth. You feel empowered and safe expressing your sexuality. You're feeling bold and beautiful and strong. This is the best reason to send a sexy selfie.

So before you hit send, fill in the blanks:

I want to send _________ (name of photo recipient) this photo because _________ (give your reason here).

Can you say it aloud, with a straight face, without feeling foolish? Examine your statement to make sure it's something you can and will stand by, today and tomorrow.

Make sure both sexters consent—and are old enough to legally do so.

Make sure both sexters consent—and are old enough to legally do so.

2. Is the Photo Identifiably You?

This is important. Does the photo show your face, and are there any distinguishing features (a setting, a scar, a tattoo) that might identify you? This is always the riskiest kind of sexy selfie because you know that when you send it, you're basically giving a piece of yourself to the universe. (You know that sending photos means they're no longer really yours anymore, right?)

On the other hand, it's less risky to send an image that can't be identified as you. That way if/when it ever surfaces on the internet, it's your word against theirs.

How to take a no-face, shy-girl sexy selfie:

There are a thousand ways to take a sexy selfie without giving yourself away. Here are some of them.

  • Showcase your favorite sexy body part. Just that one part.
  • Strategic draping can hide all identifying features.
  • Hide your face in shadows.
  • Crop to show only the edge of your face or pose with your face out of frame.
  • Hide your face behind the camera, phone, book, hat, stuffed animal, flower, or some other prop.
  • Use movement to blur your face or shoot out of focus.
  • Take the photo from behind.
  • Edit the photo to change, cover, blur, or remove any identifying features.

Sure, you can send a full-face sexy photo, too, just as long as you really consider and accept all possible outcomes.

Are you mature enough, sober enough, and calm enough to decide to do this? Are you under the influence of booze, anger, lust, hormones, adrenaline, or some other strong stuff? Are you in mourning or suffering from trauma? If so, maybe pause before you hit "send."

How old are you?

Sexting (sending sexual content) between two consenting adults is not against the law. However, there are laws in place to protect young people from risk, abuse, and dangerous mistakes. In most places, it is illegal to take, possess, or send sexual photos of anyone under 18—even if both the sender and sendee consented—since children are not considered mature enough to fully understand or to give consent. It's illegal for anyone to take, send, save, or forward a picture of a naked minor.

If you are under 18 and still think you want to send a nude selfie, keep reading to learn more information and options.

Sexting is sometimes illegal.

Between consenting adults, sexting is not against the law. However, if you cannot or have not given consent due to your age or some other factor, then it is illegal for you to send nude photos or for anyone to have naked photos of you. If one or both of the sexters is underage, then solicitation of a minor, sexual exploitation, and child pornography protections come into play and criminal charges apply.

4. Is the Photo Solicited or Unsolicited?

In other words, did both people agree to exchange a sexy photo? Is there desire and consent on both ends?

If the sexters don't both consent—if a sexy photo wasn't requested and isn't wanted (aka those unsolicited and unwanted "dick pics" we all know about)—then it's not okay to send it. Not only is it rude but it could be considered indecent exposure, which is illegal and prosecutable in most places. It's a Class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Does he expect, demand, or feel entitled to it?

Always remember: Just because someone solicits a nude photo doesn't mean you have to send one. Don't get railroaded just because he whines or pouts or insists that everyone is doing it. Sexting is something you do by choice. Being pressured into sending nude photos is not sexy, it's manipulative and exploitative.

Sexting is something you do by choice. Being pressured into sending nude photos is not sexy, it's sexual exploitation.

Sexting is something you do by choice. Being pressured into sending nude photos is not sexy, it's sexual exploitation.

5. Have You Considered All the Risks?

If you send that sexy selfie...

  • you can't "unsend" it and you can't get anyone to "unsee" it
  • you lose full ownership and control over the image
  • you might change your mind and regret it
  • you might not know this person as well as you think you do
  • you might break up with or feel differently about this person at a later date
  • the person you send it to could end up using it for various nefarious purposes
  • you may be vulnerable to blackmail, revenge porn, or doxxing
  • the person could accidentally or intentionally share it with people you don't know
  • it could end up posted publicly online
  • the image could live online and become part of your digital footprint forever
  • you might feel shame or guilt as a result
  • your reputation could be damaged
  • you may experience harassment, abuse, or bullying as a result
  • it could harm future relationships (personal or professional)

Females are much more at-risk of harassment and abuse than males.

What Is "Sextortion"?

Sexortion is an extortion that happens when someone threatens to publicize sexually explicit content if demands aren't met.

Sexing Stats and Facts

  • In the US, approximately 1.8 million nude photos are sent every day (about 20 per second).
  • Statistically, more females send sexually explicit photos than males (although males send more 4 times more unsolicited ones).
  • 49% of all women who have received a "dick pic" did not request it.
  • Many females feel pressure to participate in sexting even if they don't really want to.
  • According to one survey, 10% of people have taken a screenshot of an image that was supposed to be temporary.
  • Males are twice as likely as females to obtain a nude photo without permission (23% vs. 12%).
  • 73% men and 65% women reported that they'd kept someone's sexy photos after they broke up.
  • More than half of teenage males who received sexy images reported saving and/or forwarding those images to others.

(According to BadGirlsBible and other sources.)

6. Is He Responsible and Trustworthy?

If you are planning to send your sexy pic to a female, your photo is far less likely to be shared. With a guy, it's a little less sure. Did he say he'd keep your photos only for him? Did he promise they'd be private? If you don't know for sure or if you're making assumptions, then you are not acting responsibly yourself.

Yes, you should have this conversation before you press "send"! Ask him what he'll do with your photos. Although you can never be 100% sure if someone is as trustworthy as they seem or claim to be, you'll still want to verbally confirm their discretion.

Do you know the person you're sending it to?

Have you seen any evidence that this person can be trusted. . . or any evidence that they can't? Sure, sometimes you don't know the person very well, but you probably have some inkling of character. On the other hand, if you're just playing around on Tinder shooting selfies left and right, maybe just make sure the photos don't show your face. ;)

What if he says he'll delete my sexy photo?

If you or he are underage, he'd better delete it! And definitely if he doesn't have full control over his data or phone. But even if he crosses his heart and promises to delete it, there's a good chance he won't.

Can you ask him to delete your photos?

Yes, you can always ask, but there is no rule that says he must do so, and there's no way to make sure he does. He may consider those sexy pix his souvenirs or trophies of a sort and he might even feel entitled to keeping them as mementos. A decent person would delete your photos upon request, but there's no law or guarantee they will.

7. How Would You Feel If This Photo Were Made Public?

What if your mom or dad saw it? Your sister or brother? Your future employer, romantic partner, or child? Just pause to imagine the possibility for a sec.

The second you press "send," that photo no longer fully belongs to you. Really, anything might happen to it. Yes you have rights, but for all intents and purposes, you basically lose ownership and control over a photo if you send it.

Would anyone be hurt if it were made public?

Not that you must let it stop you (it's your life, not theirs, after all), but it's important to take stock of the potential repercussions of hurt feelings before you hit "send." Their feelings might not change your mind, but they should be considered.

You Can Always Take Screenshots

According to one survey, 10% of people have taken a screenshot of a photo that was intended to be temporary.

8. How Will You Send It?

To be clear, there is no 100% safe way to send a nude photo. Anyone can always take a screenshot or use another device to photograph your image. No matter what method you use, when you upload your photo, you lose control over that photo.

  • Email, Text, or SMS: These methods might feel more private than uploading online might, but they're less easy to delete. You can't change your mind or rescind your offer.
  • Instagram or Facebook Messenger: Both of these platforms have the option of Vanish Mode, which makes all read messages disappear when the chat is closed. Still, anyone can photograph or take a screenshot any time, so these features won't save you.
  • Snapchat: Snapchat notifies you if someone takes a screenshot, but this won't protect you, since it doesn't prevent anyone from screenshotting, and you'll still have no idea if someone takes a photo with another device.

What's the best, safest way to send a nude photo?

Snapchat is probably the safest method, since photos automatically after the recipient sees them. (But if they really disappear or if they're saved somewhere online, you'll never know for sure.)

How to make uploading a sexy selfie safer:

  • Adjust your phone's privacy settings. Check to see if your photos or other apps have access to your location.
  • Remove the EXIF data from your photos so nobody can figure out where you live by looking at your photo's data. EXIF data refers to the exchangeable image file, a standard formatting that stores info like shutter speed, exposure, time, date, and location.
  • Make sure to use end-to-end encrypted messaging to ensure that only the sender and recipient have access to the message. Most common messaging apps use it, but you'll want to be sure.

Remember: If you upload it, you no longer fully own it.

There are a thousand ways to take a sexy selfie without giving yourself away.

There are a thousand ways to take a sexy selfie without giving yourself away.

9. What Can You Send Instead of a Full-Nude Photo?

There are many fun and sexy things you can do instead of sending a nude photo.

  • Send sexy words instead.
  • Send a funny/cute/playful photo.
  • Make it sexy, but without full nudity; send a shot of your lips, a hand on a thigh, or cleavage; wear clothing or lingerie.
  • Hide the most explicit bits behind a hat, a pineapple, a hand, an emoji. Pose underwater, draped, or hidden in shadows.
  • Send a polaroid instead. If it's not online, it's less likely to get shared. Sure, anyone could steal the photo or take a digital photo of it, but it's not quite as easy. Plus, a polaroid takes more time and effort so you won't do it impetuously.
  • Send a photo of someone else. No, it's not what they asked for, but if you're not sure you trust this person yet, it might be smart.

How to Safely Share a Sexy Photo (Safe Sext!)

If you really want to go for it and show them a full nude, but you still want to maintain full ownership, you might whip out your cellphone and show it to them rather than sending it. That way, you retain full control of all your own image.

Another idea: If you've taken a photo that's just too good not to share, consider sending it to a trusted friend instead. GFs got your back.

Final Thoughts

Yeah, it's probably completely fine to send that sexy selfie as long as you've considered all these questions and don't do it on a momentary whim. If someone requests a nude photo, it might be smart to wait a day to make sure you really want to send it and it's not just your hormones (or fear) making the decision for you.

Sexting may be "the new normal."

Sexting may be "the new normal."

Why Do Women Send Nudes? Why Do Men? It's Complicated, A New Study Finds.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 A Fonté