We were only teenagers, but we were snapping photos of our naked bodies like smutty pornographic actors. Nudes were a status symbol within our social circle, to be traded during the phase that two new partners started “talking.” Since this was hardly a rarity among the hormonal and horny, the cache of naked mirror selfies and erect dick pics circulated our clique quickly. We all wanted the scandal of amateur erotica, the rush of uncovering the dirty nature of our inner circle, and the improvement of our reputation that came with selective access to the in-crowd’s sleaziest selfies.

Inside an innocuously titled folder on my father’s desktop computer, I’d collected nearly 100 nude photos of about 50 friends and acquaintances. Not all 50 subjects were my closest friends, yet I knew them more intimately than any bestie. In amassing these photos of their private parts and romantic moments, I learned a lot about about trust, privacy, and the value of friendship. Years later, I reveal these life lessons as bravely as my friends revealed their genitals for the camera.


Nudes are meant for someone special

The subjects of my naked treasure trove didn’t send me their photos directly. We wheeled and dealed our way to dozens of intimate images that were never meant for our eyes. A typical negotiation sounded something like, “I’ll give you a shot of Zander jizzing on a mirror for a pic of Jessica playing with herself,” and an x-rated exchange was made.

But before their misappropriation, these pictures were captured for the exclusive enjoyment of one romantic partner. This special someone was granted a private peepshow, and should have revered and protected their personalized erotica like a gift from the Gods. The sin of that “special someone” sharing their lover’s snapshots is corrupt enough, but I was not blameless in this act. I admired a naked body that wasn’t posed for me. I didn’t appreciate the private nature of nude pictures, and in doing so, I destroyed the significance of a once romantic memento.

The power trip of a naked pic can corrupt you

Possession of my friends’ scandalous secrets offered an intoxicating feeling of power. I held something damning over their heads, and if they provoked or wronged me, I could discharge the ultimate weapon against them. The power eventually went to my head, morphing me into a vicious and vindictive bitch.

After being scorned by a cheating partner, I posted his nude photos to a Myspace bulletin for all our mutual friends to see. I was young, petty, and spiteful, and never should have been offered the opportunity to act on it. My feeble pubescent brain couldn’t comprehend the repercussions of revenge porn, a life-altering attack that victimizes one in 25 Americans, on average. My fleeting moment of rage could have damaged his life for years to come.

Sharing a naked picture is a lifetime commitment

The supply of smutty photos among our social circle multiplied in part because of our premature misunderstanding of these pictures’ permanence. We were kids, we didn’t think ahead any further than the weekend, and we didn’t fully consider the consequences of sending shots of our naughty bits to a newfound love interest.

Now, we can acknowledge the vulnerability we become susceptible to with the sharing of a nude. Your recipient could distribute the pics to anyone they please, from your grandma to a skeezy subReddit. These pictures don’t require your permission to circulate the internet, lasting longer than the relationship that inspired them. Pressing ‘send’ means sacrificing control for a lifetime to come — a commitment we might not make today.

Naked photos of minors on your father’s computer can put him in prison

In all my youth and naivety, it had never crossed my mind that my arsenal of nude sixteen-year-olds was, in legal terminology, kiddie porn. When my father discovered my secret stash tucked within the folders of his family photos, his fury came down on me like a tsunami.

A collection of naked children on his PC could put him on the hook for possession of child pornography and a lifetime of knocking on doors to introduce himself as the neighborhood sex offender. I suffered endless tirades about my stupidity and selfishness, and sadder still, my proud collection of pictures was entirely erased.


I’d like to think that if my father hadn’t deleted them, I’d eventually rid of the pictures myself. A few nude photos made me an awful friend, a vengeful ex, and a super shitty daughter. Although an arsenal of filthy photos may sound like a blessing, it’s a curse to acquire nudes that aren’t meant for your eyes. After your friends and lovers reveal their skin, you should reveal your conscience, empathy, and compassion by simply deleting the evidence.