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 girlfriends, 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 female 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

Why I Post Nude Photos (and why I blog about sex) was last modified: September 11th, 2014 by Penny

31 thoughts on “Why I Post Nude Photos (and why I blog about sex)”

  1. fridayam

    Bravo! What a wonderful post Penny :) One of the few pleasures of getting older is to have watched women take possession of their sexuality, and as a man to have gone along for the very pleasurable ride, for it is in no way threatening to masculinity for women to be strong and clear about their desires and needs. On the contrary, it allows us men to similarly express ourselves.There is nothing shameful about the naked body.

    And by the way, why does no sex education module ever explain that the hormone-rush of adolescence creates the powerful smells in the bodies of both sexes that for a while we find overpowering and sometimes repulsive. I smelt awful as a teenage boy and grew out of it—I hope ;) x

  2. Dan

    Well, Penny. You are a saint. To me at least. You tell the truth and for warm reasons that help people. And it seems to me you honor well the body God gave you.

    I was a priest for 12 years. Married now I still grieve over what Augustine experienced that fateful day at the public bath in AD400 when he got an erection and his father was proud while his mother shamed him, as told in his Confessions of Augustine (which I’ve read 2x). He thus became the father of the Pudenda, the Area of Shame.

    I’m sure you know the Catholic Church still teaches that sex In Marriage Even, unless intended to make a baby, is sin; venial but still sin. How stupid is that. Did you know also that many Catholics for this reason today purposely practice the madness of poking a pin hole in a condom so their married sex won’t be sin? So a baby just “might” happen?

    Yes, my memoir my on own erotic journey will be out in August: Sex With Librarians and God. Tell your mom how much you help people in their spiritual journey; that God smiles at your nakedness by the creekside. Remind her babies AND adults were baptized naked in the early church for many years; and babies still baptized naked today (in the Eastern Church).

    And I think it is delightful that you are still learning things about your heart, mind, body and soul.
    -Dan a husband, a father, a brother and son

    1. Penny Post Author

      Wow, Dan, thank for you for one of the most thoughtful comments I’ve ever gotten!

      Yes, I remember learning in confirmation class (I was forced to go) that any sex without “thinking about God” or for children was considered a sin. I’m lucky my Mom even let me get birth control, since it’s also condemned by the church.

      I look forward to reading your memoir; it sounds like it will be very interesting! Thanks so much for reading and engaging with my blog; I’m glad to have you as a reader!

      xxPenny

  3. Bex

    I absolutely love this post, it is well thought out and beautifully written. I couldn’t agree more with everything you have to say and I speak for the whole of the internet when I say that I am so glad you have decided to share your amazing photography (and your amazing ass) with us!

  4. Risa Goodman-Rice, Anarchist MBA

    Full disclosure **I work for Good Vibes but am speaking only for myself as a reader of this blog**

    “.. you won’t be taken seriously as a writer if you pose nude.”

    This is a thing women hear often. “If you want to be taken seriously then you can’t…” It’s a sad thing meant to restrict women. Don’t listen. I’ve even said it myself at times. And i immediately regret it. All i did was expose a limitation in myself and hurt someone’s feelings. Yuk and ouch.

    Lastly, being taken seriously as a writer depends on WHO it is that you want to take YOU seriously. I’m pretty sure I was told I would not be taken seriously as an super-gay, super-butch, super-lefty-MBA. Then i looked at the baggy-suit tassel-loafer wearing comb-overs who said this to me and thought, “Who wants to be taken seriously by you bunch of clowns anyways?” In other words- question the source instead of doubting yourself (I am so not saying your source is a clown. I am however saying, mine was).

    That is my personal, and i emphasize *personal* two cents. I am attached to your writing and I don’t want you to get discouraged away from it.

    1. Penny Post Author

      You’ve made some really good points Risa! The people I work for and with do respect me and my blog, nude photos and all, which is pretty amazing.

      I just giggled at your baggy-suit tassel-loafer wearing clowns image. You’re right, I should definitely question the source of negative comments about nudity and sexuality.

      Please, feel free to give me your two cents anytime! Thanks so much for your thoughts and support!

      xxPenny

  5. Heaven

    Well I am glad you have showed your full body and your face. I too was just like you not posting my face in my pics when I first started out and I have finally grown out of it. It takes a lot of courage to do it but once you do it is such a great feeling. You look good girl too and I would hate to think someone would not take your seriously while writing. I have even done some things on my blog that I had to second guess and a good friend told me go for it.

  6. Jane

    Brilliant post, Penny. I adore the sentiment and you express yourself so eloquently – both in text and image. I must admit, I’m not nearly as brave when it comes to my blog, but, like you, it has been such a wonderful outlet for me and my personal thoughts and feelings about my sexuality and kinks. I’ve never shown my full face in my photographs, but, ironically, a fair few friends and family know about my little corner of the Interweb and easily recognise me in my pictures. I’ve not yet had a negative reaction (although I’m sure I will at some point) and, more often than not, find my ramblings lead to some very interesting discussions and conversations. And that gladdens my little heart. The more we talk openly and candidly about sex, sexuality, and the body, the better.

    Jane xxx

    1. Penny Post Author

      Thanks so much Jane! That’s awesome that you haven’t had any negative reactions to your blog. I too love the interesting conversations that start when I mention my blog & what I do. As you said, the more we talk about everything openly, the better!
      xxPenny

  7. Mia

    What a fabulous post Penny. I admire that you can be as open as you are on your blog, it is something that I just cannot do on mine for personal reasons but I so wish that I could!

    I’ve seen a number of these types of posts recently and wonder whether I should write a similar post on my blog.

    As for you I completely understand your feelings of shame, although not roman catholic, I had a mother that told me not to let boys touch me “down there” because it was dirty….there the seed was sown that marred my view of sex, then rape just solidified that view!

    I think I have to go write my own post!

    Thank you for your open and honest account of why you do the wonderful things that you do on your blog and I will always enjoy to read and see all that you post!

    ~Mia~ xx

    1. Penny Post Author

      Thank you Mia! I would definitely love to read about the topic from your point of view if you decide to write about it!
      xxPenny

  8. H.H.

    Applause!!! Well written penny. Sex-Positive all the way! And yes, you are a great writer, a wonderful and creative photographer, and a very sexy model who should be proud of her “body of work.” I’m glad you got a very positive response to this column and that you had the courage to let the world know who you are and what you stand for (including your mom!). I wish that we lived in a non-shaming, sex-positive world without creeps who are out to punish proud women, but we don’t and so Lo and I still remain anonymous. But more power to you!!!

    1. Penny Post Author

      Thanks so much for your encouragement! I admit I was a little nervous posting this, but I’m so glad I did!
      xxPenny

  9. Michael K

    Great post Penny!

    I’m over 50, and I remember the world back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when the sexual liberation of the flower power and hippy times had become almost mainstream yet porn was still very hard to find (certainly in Australia). Your post reminds me of those days.

    I see three main archetypes of sex – the PRUDE (sex is sinful, as presented in your post), the GODDESS (sex is without sin and a natural part of life and it is about connection and fun and can even be spiritual), and the SLUT (see 99% of porn – disconnected sex with it being a celebration of being sinful).

    Back in the early 1980’s (in Australia) the prude had become very weak and the Goddess was in the public mind – my first two girlfriends almost never wore a bra because though this was a rejection of prudery it wasn’t seen as being slutty (in the recent heatwaves here in Melbourne about 99.9% of women now wear bras or something that provided similar support and chastity).

    With the onset of porn society has split into the prude becoming mainstream except everyone looks at porn. The goddess view of sex is now very weak.

    So to me what struck me with your post is not only that you are talking about the Goddess (who can get kinky and play with toys) but that you didn’t say anything about the slut archetype.

    Maybe I need to write much more to explain myself clearly, but this is your blog not my forum!

    If I did make any sense I would love to know your thoughts.

    Regards, Michael (and I love your body too :)

    1. Penny Post Author

      Thanks for your comment Michael.

      My essay is about my own experiences and journey that led to sex blogging; I wasn’t trying to identify different archetypes. I self identify as a “slut” though not in the way you describe it. Maybe I’ll write another post about that at some point.

      xxPenny

  10. Ryan

    Long-time lurker here. You always do an outstanding job with your modeling, photography, and writing, but this post is extra-special, and it would be shameful of me to not thank you for it. So thank you, I wish everyone could read this.

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  12. Ay

    This almost brought me to tears. In a good way. I’ve never read your blog before this entry, but I will diffidently do that regularly now!
    I’ve been taking underwear and semi-nude photos of myself for ages now. Mostly for my boyfriend (which I guess is pretty normal) but also for myself. I feel sexy when I look at my photos. I feel confident. I feel more in touch with my body.
    I’ve shown them to some friends and I’ve had different responses. Some thought it was cool, but asked why? Some got weirded out and said that girls taking photos like that were “easy”

    I’ve now for a while stopped with taking photos of myself .. but after reading this I am not gonna stop because somebody else feel weird about it. I don’t know, I found your post here helpful and it’ve made me feel okay about my photos again
    – so thank you!

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  14. steve

    I’ve just tried to nominate this remarkable article in the 2014 sex blogger of the year but can’t make their form work. (That’s probably my Stone age Mac’s fault). I’ve read it several times and am always touched by just how open, honest and naked you are on every level – you’re an excellent example to all sex bloggers.

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