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On sexy pictures, and shame

a gratuitous picture of girlonthenet's titsYes, these are my tits. Not bad, eh? Or, realistically, nowt special, just your common-or-garden boobs, clad in cheap underwear and shot on a smartphone.

I get that boobs are pretty popular. As far as ‘popularity on the internet’ is concerned, they come second only to cats. Were it possible to combine the two, by placing a tiny kitten in my cleavage, I’d have done so.

Over the course of thirty years on this planet, I have sent fewer than ten naked or vaguely indecent pictures of myself to loved ones. Of those, only one of them included nipples, and one included cunt. I have no regrets about sending most of them – they’re relatively basic, utterly anonymous shots like the one I’ve posted here, and like the others that are scattered sporadically across this site. In short: should any of these turn up on the front page of the Daily Mail I won’t be spitting coffee over my laptop and begging for them to be burned.

But there are a couple I regret.

Sexy pictures I regret

The one I texted to a guy I had no intention of sleeping with again. I was drunk, and in the mood for someone relatively remote and distant. Some flirting, general horny chit chat, an early night with some of his personally-tailored smut and my own right hand. I got the smut, but only in exchange for a blurry, oddly-angled close-up of my fingers deep in my own vagina. The regrets come partly because I’m not 100% sure the guy will have kept it to himself, but mainly because I don’t even wank like that. It’s an inaccurate depiction of my own masturbatory habits, and thus I suspect one of the least sexy pictures I’ve ever taken.

The second one I regret wasn’t taken by me. Halfway through a particularly energetic fuck, in a position the guy clearly loved, he asked if he could take a picture of me. I said yes, and he did. Looking at the picture afterwards gave me a genuine jolt of delight. As one who generally thinks my body is wrong in all the classic ways, this pic surprised me by being a quickfire, candid, naked shot in which I actually felt I looked hot. The morning after I was walking on air: delighted at the slightly sore feeling of satisfaction after a delicious, no-strings fuck, and hugging myself in the knowledge that maybe I was sexy after all.  Four hours later I found out that he hadn’t just shown me the photo – he’d sent it to half the people in his address book.

What am I ashamed of?

When people talk about naked pictures, one of the most common go-to emotions is shame – body shame, slut shame, the shame that comes from feeling like a dirty little fucker who should have known better than to let someone see your private bits. I think I’m so used to hearing about shame when naked pictures or videos are circulated that I find it hard to calculate what my actual feelings are towards the incidents above.

Sure, I’m angry – I’m angry because trust has been broken, or might be broken, or because the significance of my rare pic-giving hasn’t been fully appreciated. There’s perhaps a pinch of self-loathing in there too. Not only am I not the greatest fan of my own body, but smartphones are not the most flattering tool with which to show it off. I’ve often been tempted to send something, but given up after spending half an hour contorting in front of a mirror to make sure that my tits are in shot, my face isn’t, and my knickers sit just right without showing a bikini line shadow or an uncomfortable bulge of hip fat.

Sexy pictures aren’t shameful

I’m cool with feeling these things. They are, after all, my own emotions and mistakes and neuroses. Shame, though? I don’t want to own any shame. Shame isn’t the product of the photo itself, it’s the product of the reaction. Shame – like guilt – is one of those emotions that isn’t always mine. There are many times I’ve beaten myself up about a perceived slight, or an insensitive comment, and wanted to beg forgiveness then be swallowed by the ground forever. There are many more times when I’ve felt I was in the right – that my ‘insensitive’ comment was actually a fair and frank assessment of whether someone or other was an arsehole – but I feel guilt anyway because other people are telling me to. The first kind of guilt I own, because I actually feel it, whether it’s come about by my own navel-gazing or someone else highlighting a genuine fault. The second kind is one which is applied to me even though it baffles me.

Shame is the same. I can be ashamed of that time I got so drunk I could barely walk, and phoned a close friend to tell him I was being chased home by pizza delivery guys (I wasn’t, obviously – they have more important things to do), and although I still blush to think of it, I don’t feel any worse than I realistically deserve to.

Picture shame, though? That’s applied – projected onto us. It comes about because we’re used to people reacting with horror to the idea that we have body parts and desires and (yay technology!) the ability to send them to each other over the internet. The shame applied to sexy pictures isn’t one that comes from my own beliefs about what’s right, it comes from other people’s reactions.

So when people say “what would your mother think?” or “aren’t you worried your future children will be horrified by your sex blog?” what they’re actually saying is “don’t you feel ashamed?” Perhaps my answer should be “I might, but only if you make me.”


  • Yingtai says:

    Damn straight. And damn that #@&%! who didn’t treasure your photo.

    I think sometimes it is not guilt or shame, it is plain old hurt:

    Once upon a time, I took it for granted that I would feel ashamed after the act. And I thought that it was because in my heart of hearts, I believed I was doing something filthy. But then I read about how abuse survivors experience arousal … and I realised that is a lot closer to how I actually felt. Which means it is not guilt or shame. It is the pain of being violated at the core by someone you want to trust and can’t trust. And when I’m with someone who is really looking after me, I don’t experience that awful sense of shame/violation.”

    Of course kink guilt/shame/ouch is not quite the same as what you’re describing. But I think the sense of violated trust is responsible for a lot. It’s amazingly hard to admit we’ve been wronged.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Good point Yingtai, and thank you for sharing your post – I think I need a bit of time to process it properly as there’s so much to think about in there. You’re absolutely right, though, I think the hurt and the shattering of trust has a big part to play in some of these situations – I think it’s often incredibly difficult to untangle all the different emotions when something happens that shakes you up.

  • Blue Romantic says:

    I think that this explains the popularity of Snapchat and other new-fangled stuff like that, because it’s a quick flash to the recipient, then it’s gone forever. And there’s ways to manipulate that I know, but it’d take a proper bellend to do that.

  • Amy says:

    I love sending photos, the effect it has on a guy. I adore being told I’m hot or I have turned him on, or he is wanking over the pic I just sent. Lots of the semi-clothed ones include my face but I have also sent plenty of my body and certain body parts (that couldn’t be identified, but obviously show as from my email address if anyone wanted to prove it)

    As much as I’d like to say it is just because I enjoy that feeling and I love my body in photos (which I only do if I have caught myself in the right light, at the right time, I think it looks much better in person!), that is not the whole story and I know that part of comes from having low self esteem in the past. I have done many stupid things due to that, by getting too carried away by male flattery, so I can recognise it in myself when that is what’s going on. I think I have chosen well in who I send them to, whose desire for these photos (and for me) is genuine and I don’t feel used in any way as I have in the past. Hopefully I will never regret it- but it’s too late now if I will!

  • nick says:

    I was in a relationship with a girl and we regularly sent pics and made video’s and the last thing I would have ever wanted was to expose those pics to anyone, maybe because we were a little older and had respect for one another I think young lads try to show off and try to hurt girls once they go their different ways and this is very wrong, when I split with my gf I destroyed the pics and videos to protect both of us, I know a girl and her husband was having a party and had made a video with a previous partner and while the party was in full swing put the video on, his wife didn’t know it anything about it, don’t know how she ever forgave him.

    • Girl on the net says:

      I think that’s a good strategy, nick – if it’s something you’d worry about then always best to destroy the images for peace of mind – especially if someone might steal your hard drive or something, or there’s a chance that they’ll go public. I hate to say I don’t do that though – pics I have of people are generally stored, because I can’t bear to throw anything away, least of all memories. I just try to be really really really careful, although obviously I’d delete them if the guys in the pictures asked me to. Kind of wondering now if I should delete them anyway, hmm.

      • Azkyroth says:

        I have a lot of emotional difficulty getting rid of anything with informational or emotional content or memories attached to it, so I’ve found putting the pictures I have in a TrueCrypt file to be a useful way of resolving these issues.

  • DM says:

    Such a well written article as ever. One which changes the way in which I think on this subject. A fresh point of view.

    Am I lowering the tone to then say that picture is amazing and I shall be enjoying is for myself later?

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha, no. I don’t think the tone of this blog could get any lower, tbh, and I’m flattered that you like my poorly-lit, slightly out of focus tits.

  • Nick says:

    Hi Girl on the net
    Keep them as long as you feel necessary it’s good to look over them
    I really loved the pics, and the videos were great but circumstances changed for me and I would have had a lot of shit had they been discovered, after a lot of thought deletion was the only option, I still have the images in my mind and bring them into play at times lol, I could have given them back to her but she was a little obsessive with things and I don’t think it would have been the best solution for her lol .
    And I think your tits look fab too ;-)

  • Marc says:

    I think there’s a little exhibitionist side in everybody, we all like to be told we look nice etc,. just some go further than others at times looking for those compliments.

  • TommyOD says:

    It’s a very good photo…who wouldn’t like it?!

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