Why Every Adult Woman Should Be Taking More Nudes of Herself, *Just* for Herself

Be a little selfish about your 🔥 pics.

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Katie Buckleitner

Disclaimer: Taking, sending, and insecurely storing nude photographs in your phone puts you at risk for hacking, cyberbullying, blackmail, revenge porn, and general unwanted exposure of these photos online. We do not condone the taking of nude photographs for anyone under the age of 18.

Modesty was drilled into my head by my mother from an early age. She always told me to love my body, demand respect for it (especially from men), and “keep my private parts private, for heaven’s sake.”

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We broke up two weeks later, but his actions affected me for nearly a decade. I was ashamed of my body and developed an eating disorder. With the help of a nutritionist and support from my friends and family, I was fortunately able to establish a new, healthy relationship with my self-image. Although I’m in an excellent headspace now, I have a secret weapon that keeps my body confidence through the roof: a collection of nude photos that I’ve taken of myself, for myself.

Yep, instead of snapping nudes *for* a lucky partner or hookup buddy, I occasionally take stripped-down selfies when the mood strikes me that are for my eyes only. Perhaps I look strong and glowy as hell after a really good gym session. *📸* Or maybe my underwear actually matches my bra and the lighting is good. *📸* I store all these images in an extremely protected digital location (aka not my iCloud camera roll—more on that later) and never intend to send them to anyone.

And I’m not the only one who has a personal nudes collection. In an online survey of Cosmopolitan readers, 38 percent of respondents say they also take private nudes. Why? Well, their reasons are varied and beautiful. And according to psychologist Meghan Jablonski, PhD, keeping your own safe stash can have legit mental health benefits. Below are just a few....

But first, please protect your privacy

If celebrities taught us one value over the past decade, it’s that we should obsessively protect our personal information—especially nakey photos—to keep them from falling into the hands of hackers. Or perverts. (ICYMI, Demi Lovato’s nude photos were hacked just last week.) Sixty-eight percent of Cosmo’s survey respondents named internet security (or the lack thereof) as their biggest concern when it comes to taking nude photos on their phones. This is an extremely valid point, and if you choose to take body-positive private nudes, you should take the following precautions to protect yourself:

  • Protect your device(s) with a strong and unique password.
  • Change your password every month.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Keep private photos out of your device’s cloud by opening Settings, tapping on Photos, and turning off iCloud Photos by toggling the button from green to white.
  • When taking nudes, crop out any identifying features, like unique birth marks or tattoos.
  • Use an encrypted photo app, like Keepsafe Photo Vault, which uses military-grade encryption technology (plus, Keepsafe employees don’t have access to any uploaded content).
  • If you have an iPhone, turn on Airplane Mode while you’re taking nudes to make sure they don’t accidentally upload to your iCloud. If you do accidentally take a nude while your iCloud is active, delete the photo from your Camera Roll, tap Albums, and scroll down to the Recently Deleted album and delete the same photos once again to banish them forever!

    Done that? Okay, now you can feel empowered

    Many people who confess to taking this kind of “for my eyes only” naked selfie say they do it because they think they look fucking good (which they do). One Cosmo survey participant says, “I like to be reminded that I’m sexy without feeling like I’m looking for someone else’s approval. My personal nudes are like a fun secret that makes me feel womanly.” Another says their friend accidentally found their nudes and something incredible happened as a result: “Instead of making things weird, my friend was really uplifting and told me how amazing I looked. We even swapped nude photo tips and tricks we’d learned.”

    Jablonski says that looking at private nudes helps us look at our bodies in an unbiased way. I think particularly as women, we spend a lot of time experiencing ourselves through our reflection in someone else’s gazewe’re always mirrored in someone else’s eyes,” she says. “In taking private nudes, our phone or computer screen establishes a safe distance that allows us to experience ourselves objectively with compassionate curiosity. The process is more intimate than looking directly in a mirror.”

    You can also *actually see* what you look like

    When you edit and share a photo to Instagram or Snapchat, you’re probably thinking about what your followers will think of it, right? The same thing happens to your brain when you pose for nudes you intend to share with someone else.

    “In the images that we create for social media, we’re seeing this idealized version of who we are,” Jablonski says. “I think there’s something really empowering about turning our personal lens onto ourselves in a way that’s private, compassionate, and curious. Private nudes are something that we can feel empowered to hold, and the value in them is that they’re not transactional.”

    One survey respondent hits the nail on the head with: “Because we’re dressed up all the time, we rarely get to look at our bodies without anything blocking the inner beauty we have.” Preach.

    And witness your body as it’s transforming

    One woman who responded to Cosmo’ 500 Internal Server Error

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    “I wanted to capture the magic and remember how cool my body is after pregnancy.” Other survey participants expressed interest in watching their bodies change throughout other processes, like fitness journeys and aging, in general. As one reader delightfully puts it: “I want to be able to look back on how bangin’ my tits are when I’m older, and they’re no longer as perky and FUN.”

    Jablonski says this instinct is very normal. “Selfies create room for you to be curious about what you look like from different angles or just as you are.”

    Or distance yourself from negative feels

    One survey participant says she takes nudes when she’s experiencing poor body image so she can look back at them later with a fresh and more compassionate perspective. Mindfully reflecting on low self-esteem moments in this way can be a grounding exercise. “Sometimes, emotional experiences feel so intense or overwhelming that you just want to see that you’re still there,” says Jablonski. This kind of reflection can help you come back into the moment and your sense of self.

    Still, 57 percent of our survey participants say their first instinct is to criticize their bodies when they look at their own nudes. While Jablonski finds that number alarming, she does think it’s possible to turn that negative thinking around with some self-talk. “If you notice an immediately negative reaction, ask yourself, ‘Why am I feeling critical of this? Is this critical belief my own or someone else’s? Would I respond this way if it were someone else? Are there other ways to respond?’”

    Taking nudes of yourself can also help you extend love to your body and find what turns you on, adds Jablonski. One survey respondent says she already does this by looking at her nudes before she starts masturbating as a form of foreplay, which, hell to the yes.

    So instead of stripping down just to get into pajamas and binge Succession, consider asking Alexa to play “Feeling Myself” and whip out your phone to take some 🔥 nudes of your 🔥🔥🔥 self (with bomb lighting). Don’t worry—it will be your little secret.

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