How Sharing Nudes Platonically With My Best Friends Is The Best
It was the first night of my summer tour with Firestarter. We were in Winnipeg and I had gotten slightly too inebriated at the house show we played. I decided that it would be a funny prank to text every cis man I had in my contacts with a simple “Hello sweet prince”. Once they replied, I’d immediately tell them to “take a hike”. I fell asleep giggling, which I think both annoyed and entertained my tour mates.
I awoke, bundled in my coat and a few scarves (I had been too out of it to find my blanket), expecting my phone to be a mess of thirsty men wondering why I was texting them at 3 AM the night prior. My predictions were accurate, but to my surprise my screen was full of Snapchat notifications.
“What in the world did I do”, I wondered, worried. It wasn’t that long ago that my nipple had accidentally slipped out of my shirt in a snap that I posted, without noticing, to my public Snapchat Story. I only discovered that I had revealed areola to the world by Snapchat letting me know that multiple people had taken screenshots of the video I had posted.
With great relief I opened the app to find that all of my notifications were snaps from friends. I opened them one by one. A nude from Sarah*. A nude from Emily. A nude from Bethani. A total of seven nudes from a variety of my very dear friends who wanted to wish me good luck on tour.
It was only recently that I had become even remotely comfortable with the concept of sending nudes. I used to take them, look at them, become completely repulsed by my own body, and immediately delete them.
So, the fact that I was at the point where my friends regularly sent me nudes as a simple gesture of friendship felt like a very hilarious turn of events. I wasn’t romantically involved with any of these friends (at the time), I knew that them sending them to me wasn’t them implying that they’d like to fuck, and I knew that it was a simple way for them to easily say that they were thinking of me.
It’s very difficult to hug a friend through the Internet. Emoji and text simply don’t always convey the level of intimacy that physical touch can. Most of my friends and I are often in different cities at different times. We call each other regularly, but we don’t get to see each other in person face-to-face. Sending nudes to each other is an entirely different level of intimacy and trust that’s allowed us to become closer, more open, and personally has helped me garner a whole new level of body confidence.
It isn’t easy to explain how we came to understand the meaning of this exchange, or when or why we started doing this. It wasn’t something that evolved organically. If someone expressed that they were sad, it seemed fitting to send them a nude. Sending a nude requires a certain amount of effort that a regular text doesn’t. You need to find somewhere private. You consider the lighting and the context of the photo a bit more than a regular selfie. Having taken many nudes, I know the effort that my friends are putting in to reach out to me. There’s always a conversation at the beginning that gauges the level of comfort and consent between two friends who are considering sharing nudes. Receiving unsolicited nudes is most certainly not appreciated in the same way. The conversation and agreement is what really affirms the trust between us.
I know when my friends are lonely because they let me know that they’re hanging out at home, bored, and send me a nude. I know when my friends are feeling good about themselves because of how they captioned their nudes. Over time, our poses and knowledge of lighting and facial expressions have evolved. We’ve become more experimental with how we take our nudes and, simultaneously, our increasing comfort with our bodies has become evident through this.
My friends are funny, and thus I’ve slowly started to think of nudes as being funny. My therapist once asked me why I found them so funny, and honestly I think it’s just how light-hearted and fleeting we’ve become with them — after being raised to be very careful about how much of our bodies we allow to be seen on the Internet.
Between Instagram’s ban on the female nipple, my dad’s consistent reminder that I need to be careful about how I brand myself at this age (for fear that, I guess, I’ll become a political figure at some point who will regret posting artistic photos of their butt online), to society’s concern with how short our skirts are and how much skin we show — we’ve been told that nudes are something that should be hidden from the public. As I’ve become more comfortable with sending them to my friends, I’ve become more comfortable with posting slightly less revealing versions publicly. To be honest, I feel great about this.
I realize that this custom within our friend group isn’t for everyone, nor does it need to be. But, for me, it’s something I deeply love and share with my friends and that’s transformed my feelings about my body and about the consequences of revealing my skin to the world.
*Express consent was received for displaying all photos and names in this piece. Some names changed. Please ask for consent before sending nudes to your buds and acquaintances.