Almost as soon as I had access to a camera phone I started snapping topless pictures of myself...& sending them to boys. I was a freshman in high school. It didn’t take long for one of the senior guys I engaged in cyber conversations with to ask me to show him what I was working with. It was a thrill for me. I was a developing woman developing my sexual prowess and I liked the attention.
At the time there hadn’t been any high-profile celebrity nude picture scandals for me to learn from. So I wasn’t keen on the standard precautions: don’t show your face, avoid capturing distinctive piercings/beauty marks/tattoos. If my pics had gotten out of the hands I intended for them to stay in, I could’ve never denied that it was me.
This week Whoopi Goldberg spoke out about actress Bella Thorne’s self-leaked nude photos (yes, Bella kind of leaked her own uncensored pictures to avoid being extorted by a hacker)—and she’s now facing backlash for it. In a segment on ABC’s talk show, The View, Whoopi stated that a famous person in this day & age shouldn’t be surprised when their personal photos get hacked, and I completely agree.
Contrary to what trolls are saying on the web, Whoopi was not slut-shaming the 21 year-old. From my perspective, people upset with Whoopi are missing the point: yes, everyone has a right to take nude pictures of themselves, but because we have not yet found a way to combat hackers, nude picture-takers should be aware of the potential—or maybe even expect—to have their photos shared without their consent. To be clear Whoopi’s words were:
“If you’re famous you don’t take nude pictures of yourself [if you don’t want to be a victim of hacking]. Once you take that picture it goes into the cloud & it’s available to any hacker who wants it & if you don’t know that in 2019...I’m sorry, you don’t get to do that.”
Bella replied with a tearful video shaming WG for what I see as rational, practical thoughts on the incident. For her to misunderstand the point Whoopi was trying to convey makes me feel like she’s just not that smart. I think people are taking the talk show host’s words too literally. Whoopi’s “You don’t get to do that,” implies that celebrities don’t have the same luxury of securely sending nudes that a non-famous person has...and even that’s not totally secure.
Bella didn’t have to leak her nudes. She could’ve refused to pay off the hacker and the hacker may or may not have exposed the pictures anyway. But she chose to take it a step further & sensationalize the whole thing, which some are calling “brave”.
I understand the fury of having your personal pictures spread without your permission; I’ve been a victim of revenge porn. I’ve seen young girls from my hometown be exposed on a public Facebook page specifically created to share nudes without their consent. It’s not cool. Despite all this, I know the risk I’m taking each time I send a provocative photo, and I accept it. Shit, I low-key hope my 2006 nudes resurface someday when I’m famous because I’d love to see those again.
I’m not saying don’t send nudes. Send nudes if you want. I’m echoing the sentiment that the only foolproof way for anyone to prevent having their sensitive images exposed to the world is to refrain from taking them.