This New Year’s Eve, I poured a glass of champagne, set up my ring light and tripod, and took nude photos of myself. I edited them in an app, mostly lighting and hue changes, and I shared them with a handful of friends.
In the morning I texted my ex-girlfriend, “Wow I really drank a bottle of champagne and sent everyone pictures of my tits last night.”
“Yea you fucking rule,” she replied.
I have modeled topless only once, nine years ago. The images earned four glossy pages in the 2013 edition of a magazine I edited. At age 20 I worried over the droop of my breasts, the soft folds of my belly. I liked just one photo from the shoot. My hair spilled across the floor as I looked to the side, away from the camera. I printed that photo out on a piece of paper and taped it on the wall above my bed until my friends teased me and I took it down.
My body has changed significantly since 2013. I have a pandemic pudge and my breasts are larger and lower. My hair and makeup are much improved. I look at the photos that I took this week and I see someone with a better sense of humor. I am smiling. I am more comfortable, more confident. I controlled the camera, the remote clutched in my hands just below frame. I posed for myself, and for my friends, and for the lovers I might send these images to, if they’re lucky.
I am an adult woman. My body is mine. I have the maturity and life experience to understand the risk of taking these pictures. I accept those risks. Nude selfies are a way to love and celebrate myself.
As I write this, social media is losing its mind over a new Instagram post from Britney Spears. Only weeks ago, the pop star regained her freedom from an aggressive conservatorship that controlled every aspect of her life. She just turned forty, and yet for the first time, possibly ever, she is free to make her own choices.
Tonight she chose to post two mirror selfies of her naked body. Little emojis cover her nipples and genitals. She wears white thigh-highs and a white choker. The pictures are grainy, the background messy. She looks fantastic. More than that, she looks happy.
“Free woman energy has never felt better,” she wrote in the caption, along with a pink bow emoji.
An adult woman choosing to post pictures of her body is not a cause for concern or a sign that she is mentally unwell. An adult woman choosing to celebrate her freedom—choosing to celebrate her total ownership of her image and her voice—is not a sign that she needed conservatorship all along. An adult woman choosing to show herself off just because she feels like it is something to celebrate.
At long last, Britney is free. She can do whatever she wants, and this is what she wants. We are lucky she still wants anything to do with us after years of public scrutiny and private hell.
Be grateful. Enjoy the view. Keep your opinions to yourself.
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