Self-shots have stirred tons of controversy over the past few years, mainly due to the age of the people experimenting with them, but the idea of people taking pictures of themselves is certainly nothing new! This has been going on with one form of photographic media or another since the technology of capturing an image was invented. Even the earliest “tin type” images featured draped and undraped nudes in both classical and pornographic style images.

Ultimately, if nudity becomes more commonplace, then images of lone individuals are likely to become more common as well. Many of the social networking sites prohibit the “open” display of nudity, yet they allow bikini and in some cases breast-feeding photographs; neither of which violate so-called “community standards”.

Today there is a growing audience of individuals willing to pose without clothes, snap a quick pic to share with a loved one, and are unafraid of the revelation of their body; their “private parts” because we either do not know why they were called “private” in the first place (“Where did that start?”) or they may believe only images of themselves nude are “complete” (or “honest”, “brave” or fully expressive of their personality - the unhidden/total person).

It is a complex question and a “bold” activity that challenges many current social and religious standards, but it is also one that brings about change to society. There are many social causes people feel passionate about including ideas of equality, openness, body acceptance, non-embarassment, and possibly a refusal to be controlled by an institution or an edict they never voted to accept AND currently have no say on.

We the people change society. We set the standards and boldly go where none have tread before, and it is through these actions that new standards begin to develope. Many forms of acceptance are available in society, but they are largely meaningless unless and until individuals embrace them fully! Community standards are slow to change, often unwritten, sometimes unspoken and may be taken to be the “legal” definition of acceptable behavior even when they are unwritten.

What is your opinion? Have you taken a nude self-pic? Have you shared it with a single person in love and trust? Would you ever share it openly on a social networking site OR perhaps even volunteer to pose for a photographic art exhibition in a cafe or gallery? — What is your opinion on nudity and where it is or is not acceptable?

As nudists we generally believe clothes do not make the person, but that the person is honestly who we want to know fully, to accept, and to respect their desire and (or) need to express themselves and enjoy life fully. If this enjoyment involves challenging the traditions and well-established history of clothing, or simply attaining a “sense of freedom” by removing clothing, we support allowing it.

(minor addition in italics below)

One of the most important “Rights” of our era, the past twenty to thirty years, is Individual Choice and the ability for people to choose a way of living and have it be respected. This often involves sexual orientation or religion, but may also extend to living arrangements, co-parenting choices, home-schooling or the choice of which philosophy a child will be raised under. All of these things have gained respect and understanding over the past several decades, and I believe even the choice to have a less restrictive attitude towards clothing within the home MAY BE one of them. There may be a much smaller portion of the population making THIS choice, but it appears from many accounts that clothing “neutral” or clothing-free families do exist. If this is happening in the privacy of homes and at a few select beachs, then can we characterize the trend as growing? - - Perhaps even if it is only growing at the same rate as the overall population, it is still growth.

Finally, one of the most important concepts I feel should be included in self-portraits, self-pics, and images including nudity at this point in time is some caption as to why the image has been made! Make a complete statement, answer the question: ‘Why are you sharing this image?’

Is it just “fun”, does it make you happy, do you workout and have pride about the results, have your recovered from or survived an injury? Or if this was just a spur of the moment thing done on a lark, a whim, a dare or whatever, SAY IT! Let people know what was going on at the time and (or) what you think about it now.

This is absolutely essential to explaining our motivations and having any chance of evolving the public’s understanding of what our nudity means to us; what we want them to know about it; why we did or continue to do it.

A final addition to this OpEd/Blog not appearing elsewhere would be the question of whether self-portraits of children (minors under the age of 18 years) are exploitative of them and should remain illegal. Many jurisdictions appear to be adopting the position any cellphone image including an unclothed child or teenaged individual is pornographic explotation. Am I understanding this correctly? Are there any other individual rights except for voting, property ownership, financial accountability, alcohol comsumption (age 21) and gun ownership (age 21) that do NOT kick in until the individual turns 18?

Is it possible for a minor to be charged with the creation or possession of "pornography" for simply taking a naked photograph of themselves? Does the situation change IF they DO NOT share it with anyone but simply save it for (say) nostalgic reasons? (thinking: I cannot share this with anyone TODAY, but one day I may want to look back on my former self an remember how I looked - because I <the writer> own old nude photographs of myself)


(minor edits and additions, 10/10/12 & 10/22/12)