(The Root) —
"My boyfriend wants me to send him some sexy pictures, and I'm hesitant about it. Aside from the fear of them somehow getting out and ruining my hypothetical chances of running for Congress, I'm no Victoria's Secret model! With all these naked picture scandals, are women still sending their men sexy pictures?" —R.M.
The advent of email and camera phones means that going forth, some women — and men, too — will forever and always send naked pictures to their partners. And lots of those images will be seen by people for whom they were not intended. One of the main reasons for capturing an image is so that it can be shared with others.
You're right to be concerned about your pictures getting out. It seems that everyone thinks that won't happen to them, but of course it can. Your pictures may not be splashed all over the Internet for millions of people to ogle — like, say, those popular nudie NSFW photos of Rihanna, Amber Rose, singer Cassie and Basketball Wives co-stars Jennifer Williams and Evelyn Lozada — but you'll feel the same embarrassment if you ever find yourself posted on Exgfs.com, postyourgirls.com or girlfriendgalleries.com. Those are just a few of the many NSFW sites dedicated to showcasing nude photos of wives and girlfriends.
Even if you're one of the lucky ones who doesn't find your naked pictures being held for ransom or posted online, be mindful that your images can still be circulated via text and email. I've lost count of how many supposedly private naked pictures I've seen of people who are or have been associated with folks I know or have met.
Plenty of folks like to brag about their latest conquests and their partners, too. On multiple occasions, I've received a text from one of my guy friends with a photo of a woman scantily clad, if clad in anything at all. (Guys, beware: I've also seen plenty of emails featuring your magic sticks.)
The images are requested because the partners genuinely want a keepsake. But they are shared partially because those partners like to show off who they're working with, and also because of the ego boost they get from showing others how they can get someone to do something seemingly illicit.
Kudos to you for thinking about your professional future and how sexy pictures could impact it. I'm sure NBA coach Mark Jackson wishes he had had your foresight. In 2006 Jackson, who was working as an announcer for the New Jersey Nets after retiring from professional basketball, sent naked pictures of himself to an exotic dancer with whom he was having an affair.
Six years later, the father of four and church pastor was the head coach for the Golden State Warriors, and his ex and her accomplice were demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars from him in order to keep the photos from leaking to the media. Jackson had to call in the FBI for help. You don't want this to be you.
So you know, a high-profile job isn't the only place where sexy pics can come back to haunt you and have a career-altering (or ruinous) effect. Consider the case of Tiffany Webb, 37, a New York City guidance counselor who was fired last December because of racy photos she had taken between the ages of 18 and 20. The termination occurred just days before she was set to get a tenured position, which would have guaranteed her a salary of $84,200.
The images of her in lingerie and bikinis were professionally done, not leaked by an ex, but the consequences of her sexy photos more than a decade later are just the same. Webb's images recently popped up on seedy sites like Mo Girls Entertainment and Showgirlz Exclusive. She is now suing the Department of Education in Brooklyn Supreme Court, seeking reinstatement, back pay and punitive damages.
I suggest that you tell your boyfriend no in response to his request for pictures. If he needs a visual, invite him to come by and have a long look at you. He can even touch, which will make it more fun for both of you. That should get you off the hook and will help him imprint the memory of your curves on his brain. Whenever his mind's eye starts to fade, invite him back for another session.
If you still decide to send him pictures, don't worry so much about your body. Surely at this point he's seen it before, and if he's asking for photos, you can be confident that he likes what he sees. But do make sure you take pictures the smart way. That means your face and any other identifying details like tattoos, scars, hair or unique backgrounds shouldn't be in the shot. If — and really, when — the photos get out, you want to have plausible deniability that the image in question is of you.
Also, keep it classy. It's more titillating for your partner to see you completely naked, bent over or spread-eagled, but the goal of your pictures should be to ignite a desire for him to show up in person to see more of you. Don't give everything away in one shot.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.