Watermelon seller with her merchandise in Bucharest, July 2003.
Watermelon seller with her merchandise in Bucharest, July 2003.
Image: Getty

As self-isolation rages on and single people become more and more accustomed to the fact that, among other things, the last time they fucked might be it for a minute, the New York TImes is right on top of that, Rose!

Advertisement

In a sprawling essay for the magazine, novelist Diana Spechler considers the historical and cultural implications of sending nudes in the time of coronavirus. The nature of sex right now is limited to masturbation or, in the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, loving the one you’re with. If you’re tired of the former and don’t have anyone in your household that is viable for fucking, then, Spechler argues, “Nude selfies are no longer foreplay, a whetting of a lover’s appetite, but the whole meal.”

Since we are no longer allowed to seduce through the act of touch, Spechler argues, an artfully-lit, well-composed nude is how we are forced to connect now, which is a fair point. If you can’t physically be with the one you love, might as well send them a photo of your naked body, because why not, man. But framing the nude as an artistic imperative to “be witnessed,” as Spechler does, is accurate, but also, a little overblown. The examples provided in the essay point to the rich history of nudes in art, as well as acknowledging that at some point in the long, storied history of nudes, women eventually were able to shake the sticky mantle of the male gaze and make nudes for themselves. While it is pointless to argue whether or not anything is truly removed from the male gaze (it’s not!), what really caught my attention was the suggestion near the end of the essay that implied that some people out here are FaceTuning nudes that do not include their actual faces.

Advertisement

She writes:

In these disorienting times, we are psychologically naked, but our nudes are aspirational: We are breasts propped on pillows and Facetuned. We are headless, proof that we’re not overthinking or panicking. We are free, cast in a single ray of sunlight, not stuck inside with a vitamin D deficiency. We are taking a risk at a time when we are not allowed to take risks, baring our bodies with no guaranteed reaction. We hit send and hold our breaths, silently asking until we receive the reply, am I safe am I safe am I safe?

While I get what Spechler is going for, here, I’m struck mostly by the notion of FaceTuning a photo that doesn’t actually have a face in it—specifically the titties! I really don’t know what anyone else’s titties look like currently, but I can’t imagine there’s anything so untoward on a breast in quarantine that would require the smoothing powers of technology. Facetuning the actual face if it shows up in a nude is fine, but the impulse to Facetune a tit points urges me to assure anyone who might listen that taking a nude picture of yourself and sending it to someone—or no one, at all—is simply not that deep.

Sure, there’s an art to the well-executed nude, but really, the best kind of nude photos are haphazard, a little wonky, and therefore, more authentic? Naked pictures of someone you are trying to fuck, have fucked, or would very much like to fuck after all this is over don’t need to be art, not because those photos are pornography, but because that’s simply not their purpose. A nude can be filthy or tasteful, but the former, preferred. If you’ve finally figured out a way to photograph your cooch in a way that flatters all its angles, then who cares if there’s a pile of dirty laundry visible or the bed isn’t quite made? It’s irrelevant to the matter at hand, which is the nude itself, and the impulse that caused the nude to come to fruition in the first place. When this shit is over, touching another person’s body, face, arm, or hand will probably feel like the best kind of drugs. Consider imbuing some of that spirit into the nudes you send, while keeping in mind that it’s truly not a big deal, and that the person receiving three pictures of your naked bod, plus a bonus shot of your ass will be grateful for the gift.

Advertisement

There’s a time and a place for the artsy-fartsy, light-dappled nudes of your headless torso, a titty or two, and an artistically draped bedsheet, but during a global pandemic, it’s more than fine if they’re not cute and even, frankly, a little nasty.

Managing Editor, Jezebel

Share This Story

Get our newsletter