Feature image via shutterstock.
I’m the person who says “don’t swipe left” when I let people look at my phone because it’s usually full of nudes I haven’t hidden yet. The selfie movement got me to love myself so much that I started wanting to see myself naked more often. So I do my makeup, put on sexy lingerie and photograph myself while I slowly take it off.
The first time I took nude pictures of myself was actually for tumblr. I run a secret porn blog, and around the time I started it there was a movement encouraging fat Black folks to post pictures of their naked bodies as a radical form of self-acceptance. I’d been terribly uncomfortable with my body for most of my life. But I’d just gotten my first alternative lifestyle haircut and for the first time ever was really feeling myself.
I posted it and checked the notes every 20 minutes, convinced someone was going to say something derogatory. Instead, I was called beautiful by someone other than my mother for the first time. I didn’t realize that I could be beautiful before then, not really. But there was my naked body — I didn’t even put on makeup — being praised, being desired. Seeing that desire helped me to love myself and the body that has taken care of me my whole life, regardless of its changes, and regardless of whether I know what I, as a non-binary person, think it should look like most of the time.
These days, I love myself and my body, but I still crave sexual affirmation from others. Nude selfies are how I first learned to see myself as a sexual being, and now they also let me determine how others see me — especially within kinky power dynamic relationships.
In those relationships, I want to give away control. I thrive on protocols, on things that let me give up my responsibility to make decisions. But only I decide how I am sexualized. As a non-binary person and a sub, I use nudes to both show tops how I want to be seen and make sure they understand and respect my need to love my body in any and all of its changing forms. My body has been a battlefield; I haven’t always been as in love with it as I am today. Because of that, it’s important to me that I am the only person who decides how it looks. Many tops out there want me to be their small, cute, hairless baby girl, and while sometimes I’m into that, sometimes I want to be seen as a hairy, pretty, femme boi who takes up space.
Nudes help me to say, “This is who I am today, and you can take it or leave it… but I’m so hot in any gender presentation, why wouldn’t you stay?”
Nudes are also a way for me to say, “Hey, I’m all yours,” to someone I’ve given myself to, and to remind myself of who I’m choosing to give my body to. They’re a way to get myself into a sort of sub space where I’m only thinking about pleasing my dominant — where I’m left calm, fulfilled and in a better state of mind afterward. They’re a way to be extremely vulnerable. They’re a way for me to get approval — and I don’t need it, but I want it. They’re personal and powerful.
They’re also potentially dangerous. My nudes, like my submission, are a gift, and I choose when and to whom they are given. I love giving gifts so finding someone trustworthy enough to receive them fills me with joy, but not every cutie who ends up in my pants is lucky enough to end up with one of my nudes in their inbox. I have very strict rules about who I do and do not send nudes to, and a checklist to match:
- Have I known this person in a sexual way for more than six weeks?
- Is this person sleeping right now?
- Has this person expressed desire to receive a nude picture?
- Do I think we’ll have a nice-ish breakup once that time happens?
- If this person is masculine of center, do they express what I consider to be a healthy version of masculinity?
- Do I trust this person 100%?
- Does this person respect me 100%?
I need to answer yes to every question before I send a nude. I’m not out as queer, non-binary or kinky to everyone, and sharing these parts of me with people I didn’t consent to sharing them with could have consequences in my personal life, in my academic life, even in my career. I’ve also worked hard for my self-confidence, and I don’t want someone who was never supposed to see my pictures anyway to ruin it for me. So there has to be full and mutual trust and understanding between, both in and out of the bedroom, before anyone gets a nude from me.
The paradox of kinky relationships is that in giving up power, the submissive actually ends up with quite a bit of power over the relationship. The process of sending out nudes really highlights that paradox for me: on one hand, they could do anything with it, and on the other hand, I’ve done my best to make sure they won’t. And something I’m still figuring out as a sub is that just because someone tells me to do something doesn’t mean that I have to do it. Whatever negotiation happens and however we play, the final decision to send the picture or not — just like the final decision to submit or not — is mine.