Category Archives: Exhibitionism

Why I Post Nude Photos (and why I blog about sex)

My photography is one facet of my creative expression through my blog, and the reason I do it is related to why I blog about sex in general. It’s all a part of reclaiming my love for my body and my sexuality.

I’ve always known that I’m a sexual being. Though they’re fuzzy, I have many memories of sexual exploration with friends, as well as reading and thinking about sex as a child. I’ve also always liked attention and having my photo taken; I’ve had a strong sensual energy from an early age.

By the time I was a teenager though, I began to feel ashamed of my urges to explore my sexuality. The Catholic Church taught me that women should be “pure” and “modest” and hide their bodies, and that any sexual encounters before marriage are mortal sins.

I remember videotaping myself one night at age 13, doing a dance I’d made up, wearing a swimsuit top that I pulled up high so you could see the bottoms of my small breasts peeking out. As I danced, I felt in touch with my body, I felt sexy, and when I watched myself afterwards on the little video screen up in my room, I became more and more turned on and excited, but feelings of guilt quickly creeped into my head, and I hastily deleted the video because I thought that if anyone ever saw it they would think I was a slut.

This tension between what I was constantly told to do and think and how I actually felt, acted, and thought, damaged my body image, my view of my own sexuality, and my overall self-esteem.

In High School I started having sex, rejecting the idea that I would be dammed to hell for it, but I had no access to sex education, so I was pretty clueless. My Mom let me get on the pill after I complained about cramps, but I still constantly worried about getting pregnant or getting an STI. Looking back, I’m really lucky that neither of those things happened, since I didn’t even know how to properly use a condom (abstinence only education at its finest.)

The church’s scare tactics didn’t keep me from having sex, but the shame associated with sexuality seeped into my subconscious, and even though I wanted to love myself and my body, I struggled with the embarrassment I had been taught to feel, by both my religion and society in general.

Even though I was having sex, I could hardly look at myself up close, let alone name the important parts like my clit and g-spot. I looked at my vulva once with a compact mirror, and I was terrified by what I saw. I thought it was ugly. I didn’t like my natural smell and constantly feared that I had an STI, so I douched, which is actually horrible for your body.  I didn’t know about the importance of communication in relationships, and I hadn’t even heard of the word “consent.” I thought rape was black and white and only encompassed physical force; I didn’t realize that feeling pressured to do things when you don’t want to isn’t healthy, safe, or consensual.

My true sexual revolution didn’t happen until I started working at a sex shop during my senior year at UT. During the three years I worked there, I read and learned more about sex and met sex positive women who I could talk to. I finally got to the point where I was truly proud of my body and my sexuality again.

While working at the shop I started modeling (sometimes nude), but at that point I only showed the photos to Jake and certain friends who I knew would appreciate them. Eventually I started my blog because I loved talking about sex with people at work, and I wanted a bigger outlet for sexual discussion and exploration.

Since I already had sexy and nude photos, I wondered if I should post some on my blog when I started it. I’d always wanted to share my images with a wider audience, but at the same time I was also afraid to. My main fears had to do with family members seeing them or with the possibility of my real identity getting out and the repercussions or lost career opportunities that could come with that. The exhibitionist in me won though, and I began posting photos, although at first only ones that didn’t reveal my face and didn’t show any actual nudity.

After blogging for a while, I realized that I was tired of hiding my face from my photos. I admired women who had the courage to post nude images that showed everything, including their faces, boldly and with pride. I gradually became less concerned with hiding my face.

Posting nude photos as well as sex blogging in general has been an extremely liberating experience for me. Finally, I don’t feel like my body is something I need to hide. I’ve come a long way from my scared and ashamed 13 year old self, and I’m extremely proud of that, especially considering I was raised to believe that my body is obscene and sex is sinful.

I’m proud to say I now know where my g-spot is, how to ejaculate, how to communicate with a partner, how to explore “taboo” aspects of my sexuality, and how to accept other people’s sexuality without judgment. I’m proud to admit I still have a lot to learn.

I’m also glad that I’ve helped other people in their sexual exploration. I get lots of positive feedback from friends and readers of my blog, and I feel good when people tell say they love my photography as well as my writing.

Sure, I like the attention I get from having a sex blog and from posting nude images. I am a bit of an exhibitionist, and I find it thrilling when people tell me they’re attracted to me or that they get turned on reading my stories and looking at my photos. But that’s not the sole reason why I blog or post nude images (though even if it was, I don’t see that as a problem.)

I blog about sex for creative outlet, for exploration, and to facilitate open sexual discussion. I post nudes because I consider photography and the human body art forms, and because I enjoy self-portraiture. When I photograph myself, I explore different aspects of my personality. Sometimes I’m feeling dark, or shy, or weird, or sexy. I find myself in my images.  I choose to share them online because I want people to see the work I’m proud of.

I’m not naïve, and I know the risks of posting nude photos in a society that is still overwhelmingly sex negative, sexist, and body-shaming. I have to deal with consequences, like my mother’s harsh words (yes, she knows and doesn’t approve) and society’s pressure and judgments.

I do worry that I might not be taken seriously as a writer because I post nude images. But I resist the idea that being sexually open about my body and being intelligent are mutually exclusive or that they must inhabit separate spaces. I’m smart, I’m good at writing and photography, and I’m also passionate about expressing my sexuality. I know it would be “safer” for me to not reveal my face, or to have separate blogs for writing and for erotic photography, or to not post nude images at all.  My heart still races every time I post a new image, but that’s part of why I do it.

I post nudes on my blog because they are beautiful and because I finally have the courage to do so. I post nudes because I feel they are mine to post, finally. After years of struggle and inner tension, I have reclaimed my body and my sexuality, finally. No one is pressuring me, I don’t do it to increase blog traffic or to gain followers; I share myself on my blog because I decide to.

My reasons for blogging and sharing nude photos are important to me. My sexual truth is important to me.  I’ve decided to explain it because I’m passionate about it, and so my readers can learn more about my background if they want to. But I didn’t write this piece because I think I need to justify what I do. I don’t need to explain why I share my sexuality or post nude photos, but I do think it’s important to reflect on it.

My sexuality is mine to share with whomever I want to, in any form that I want to. It isn’t something society or religion or my family or any partner can control or define, it’s mine.

My body is mine. My sexuality is mine.

Self Portrait: Free

Topless Tanning

While these aren’t my best photos, since Jake took them on my camera phone in the blaring sun and couldn’t even see the screen, I’m still sharing them because they prove my first experience going topless at Barton Springs Pool! This wasn’t the first time I’ve hung out topless in Austin, but it was the first time I was surrounded by people!

When we got there and set our towels down at the top of the hill, I noticed a girl around us lying topless, so I figured I would go for it as well. I’ve wanted to do it for awhile but have been a little too nervous (I can be shy in person at times, believe it or not.) Whenever the lifeguards or new people arriving walked by I felt a little weird, like maybe I should cover up, but I resisted the urge. It was freeing, lying out without my bikini top tight around my neck and back, and also, no annoying tan lines!

After we’d been lying out for awhile and our skin was stinging to the point that it was time to jump into the heavenly 70 degrees water, I had to decide if I would put my top back on for the trek down the hill and into the pool or not. Why bother at this point? I thought. And I did it! It may seem like no big deal to those reading this, but it definitely feels more daring to walk down a hill crowded with people and jump into the pool in front of everyone, as opposed to merely resting topless in the less crowded area at the top of the hill.

So I wasn’t the only topless woman there. And I wasn’t even showing as much skin as a guy near us, who only wore a sock around his penis (props, dude!) But still, I’m proud of myself for going topless somewhere crowded in public for the first time. And I’m thankful I live in an awesome place like Austin that has a pool where it is completely acceptable to wear only a bikini bottom or a sock. Next stop, Hippie Hollow, y’all! 🙂

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Sinful SundayI’m not sure if this counts as a Scavenger Hunt photo or not, since you’re allowed to be topless at Barton (as you technically are in all of Austin,) but since 90+% of people don’t do it/it’s not a naturist place, I thought I should ask. 🙂

East Side Exhibitionism

pennysblog_eastsideexhibitionism1Yesterday was one of those days when I just felt like doing something a little “crazy.” While Jake, a friend, and I had drinks and lunch outside, I told Jake to pour ice water down my dress. He did, and that turned in to him telling me to put some in my underwear as well, which I sneakily (or maybe not so much?) did under the table.

On the trek from Yellow Jacket to our friend’s place after lunch, the Texas sun scorched our skin and the heat seemed to radiate out in waves from everything– from the street, from the sky, from the air. “Somehow there’s still some ice in my panties!” I said, pulling it out and rubbing it on my neck. Jake looked around, and when he didn’t see anyone, we snapped a photo of my ass hanging out of my panties by the railroad tracks as we walked.

When we got to our friend’s place, sweaty and tired, I pulled off my dress and declared that I would just hang out topless all day. And I did. At first it was just inside, but then we ended up sitting out on the front porch talking as the guys sipped beers. I’d never been outside topless like that before, and although I was sitting facing away from traffic behind a pillar most of the time, we were still on a main street, and  the possibility of being seen was palpable.

It’s technically legal to be topless in Austin as long as you aren’t committing some other crime or “offending” people, which is subjective and could still be risky, but people in Austin are usually pretty chill about it. When one of my friends lived at a hippie co-op during college, they had a topless car wash outside to raise money. Some cops rolled up as they often would since the place was known as a hub for wild parties, but they didn’t do anything…except park and watch for awhile. I’ve also seen topless women at public places like Barton Springs, floating the river, and Eeyore’s Birthday.

At first I felt strange and a little vulnerable sitting out there, expecting people to stop, stare, or who knows…maybe even scream, “Hey, look at that topless girl sitting outside!” if they happened to see me. But nothing like that happened. No one stopped to look, no one gasped in horror, and I don’t think anyone other than a couple of people like a neighbor walking by even noticed, and the few that did didn’t seem phased.

I’m comfortable with my body, yet every once in awhile when someone was walking at an angle where they could possibly see me, I thought, should I go put on clothes? Is my body going to offend someone? Will I get in trouble? I never got to the point where I felt so uncomfortable that I went to get my dress, I just had passing moments of feeling a bit squeamish.

But it was also exciting and freeing as the breeze grazed my body without the confines of my sweaty dress sticking to me, and that feeling held more power over me.

While writing this post, I started to wonder why  flashing is considered exhibitionism or taboo in the first place. Why are men are allowed to be topless while women generally aren’t?* Is it because women’s body parts are automatically sexualized, while men’s aren’t? Sure, women’s breasts can be sexual, but so can men’s chests and nipples.

When I asked Jake about it, he said that it’s just not something our society generally accepts, and the norms are followed so that people aren’t offended. He also pointed out that a lot of women probably don’t want to be topless in public for fear of ogling men, which is understandable.

But still, why are only women’s breasts considered potentially offensive? I think it has something to do with the hypocritical relationship between our sex filled media and contrasting expectations of purity and “modesty,” especially for women.

Advertising screams sex at us everyday, everywhere we go, on the streets, on TV, on the Internet. Buy this makeup and you will be desirable! Wear these flirty clothes; you need a flattering cut with Spanx underneath to feel truly beautiful! Get this deodorant, and women will bang down your door, dying to fuck you! Victoria’s Secret supermodels touch themselves in skimpy lingerie for all to see, but women are still sometimes arrested for breast feeding in public.

I could go on and on on this topic (and perhaps I will in another post,) but my point here is that it seems warped to me that when the media and advertising often use sexually suggestive content, it’s acceptable, but seeing a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, showing a natural part of her upper body in real life could be considered more offensive and possibly even illegal. And even if she isn’t topless, she risks being labeled a slut if she wears revealing clothing or expresses a sexuality different from the norm.

Even though I think our society’s attitudes about sex and nudity are contradictory and generally screwed up, as of now, they’re still a fact of life. Until people of any gender can walk about topless without possible arrest or at least shock factor, baring my tits is still exhibitionism, and so I suppose I’m a budding exhibitionist. And although I tend to shun labels, I don’t really mind this one.

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Of course I had to document my wild day of “exhibition” for Dee’s Scavenger Hunt as well, even though I only had my phone camera.  Does my underwear one count for Train Tracks as well? 🙂

Sinful Sunday

 

*For writing simplicity I refer to “women” and “men” here, although a person’s gender doesn’t necessarily coincide with having or lacking breasts, and not everyone identifies as one of these two labels.