Send Me Nudes
Contributor
Written by
Ann Lineberger
February 2019
Contributor
Written by
Ann Lineberger
February 2019

My oldest daughter is asked by boys multiple times a week to “send nudes”.  

She knows to not do it for all of the obvious reasons, and I’m thankful for it, but I hate that my teenage daughter and other kids have to deal with these requests. It wasn’t an issue when I was a child. No one asked my friends or me because photos were processed in a lab. The most a boy could hope for short of being a Peeping Tom was a glimpse during skinny-dipping or when a girl was bold enough to flash him. Otherwise, he could buy a magazine and look at the naked bodies of strangers. 

The requests my daughter receives come from boys she knows and those who have been added to her social media accounts because they are friends of friends. Yesterday, she received a request from a boy she has known since kindergarten. 

“Mommy, you’re not going to believe who asked me to send him nudes,” she said as I start the car and she settles into the passenger seat buckling up. It’s often in the car when it’s only the two of us that she tells me the things bothering her most. 

I look at her wide-eyed. “Who?” I ask. 

She blurts out his name as she ducks her head a little. A combination of sadness and exasperation washes over her face. 

I repeat his name in complete shock. “Are you kidding me?"

This boy is the most mature fifteen-year-old I know. He's level-headed and intelligence. He always has been. He’s the kind of kid you could imagine sitting on the Supreme Court one day. 

“I know, Mommy!” she exclaims. And then she repeats his name with greater emphasis. “I can’t believe it either. We used to throw mud balls at each other on the playground.”

“I remember,” I say, as an image of her walking in the front door with her coat splashed in dried mud and her boots caked in it. She loved the mud fights and gave it to him and his friends as much as he and they did to her and her friends. I started buying her dark-colored jackets to wear because of it and continued to up through sixth grade. 

“You two have been pals forever,” I note.

I can’t believe the pressures that cell phones and social media put upon children and the devastation they have the potential to cause. I can’t believe a social climate exists where its common for kids to request transmittable nudes from their peers. 

“Yes, I’ve been friends with him for ten years,” she says. 

I can see this request from a long-term, trusted friend hurts and confuses her more than the ones she receives from acquaintances. Those used to hurt and confuse her equally but they’ve become so prevalent that she has grown more impervious to them. 

“Doesn’t he realize what he’s asking of you?” I say, knowing it’s a rhetorical question but then wondering if it really is a rhetorical question for teenagers. Do these kids really get it? “Even if he doesn’t forward the nude photo, what if one of his friends accesses his phone and forwards it?”

“That happens all the time,” she says. “But often in a slightly different way. Boys take pictures of photos on their friends’ phones and send them out. That way the person whose phone the image is on doesn’t see that it was forwarded.” 

My daughter then looks at her phone and calls up Instagram. After a short search, she holds the phone up to show me. “It happened to her,” she says. “She sent a nude to her boyfriend, and his friend got hold of the phone. He sent it to all of their friends. She was so upset that she took time off from school.” 

I look at a picture of a beautiful girl sitting on a beach blanket with friends. 

“She’s so nice, Mommy. I feel so sorry for her.”

I think of the criminal case in Ireland when a prosecutor tried to make the argument that a girl wearing a thong invites rape. I know in the incident my daughter cited, the girl sent the photo thinking it would be shared only with her boyfriend but it makes me wonder if a girl posts a picture of herself in a bikini on social media do boys think she’s the type to send nudes? Do they take it as an invitation? And when the girl says no, are they hurt? They might be. In the current social climate, do they think of it as a snub? Probably.  

“So how did you respond to him?” I ask as I contemplate calling his mother. We aren’t close friends, but I know her well enough to understand that she would want to know. She would talk to him about it in a constructive way. 

“I texted back, ‘Sorry, but I don’t send nudes. It’s nothing personal.’”

“Are you kidding me!” I exclaim. “That sounds like an apology.”

“If you just say no or ignore the requests, which is what I used to do, then they can get their friends to turn on you and bully you on social media or in person,” she explains. “Girls talk about it. It’s real. It happens like that in relationships, too. Remember when I told you about … and how he and his friends turned on me when I told him that I didn’t want to date him.”

“Yes, I do,” I say.

“It’s the same thing,” she continues. “So now I just say, ‘I don’t send nudes’. I added the last part about it not being personal because we’re friends.” 

I can’t believe how wrong all of this is.  

“You know the kind of boys who would turn on you for not sending a nude are the same ones that would try to hold you hostage with a nude you send to them?” I explain.

“Yes, Mommy,” she responds. “That happens. A lot.” 

“But, it’s confusing for the boys too, Mommy,” she continues. “Some girls will send nudes to some boys and not to others because they say they don’t send nudes to ugly boys. They tell the boys who they think are ugly that they won’t send them nudes because they're ugly. I think that’s mean. So I just say, ‘I don’t send nudes’.”

I can’t believe how twisted the thinking is around what is, in essence, a request for the transmission of underage porn. 

“But the original request is so wrong, sweetie,” I say trying to contain myself. "Even if it comes from a trustworthy boyfriend without noisy friends. If the couple breaks up..."

She nods. “That's a form of revenge porn. And the transmission of the images is illegal."

“Yes, it most definitely is.”

"The amount of time kids spend on their phones has warped dating," I say knowing its impact on teenage relationships is much broader but not wanting to shift the conversation into something larger right now. "Would boys have the guts to ask you to your face for a nude?"

"No," she says. "Most wouldn't."

“Whatever happened to the simplicity of a boy asking a girl he wants to see naked out on a date?” I ask hoping it will in part make her smile. 

She laughs.

“That’s how it used to work. Or you might catch them staring in your bedroom window.”

She laughs again. 

She knows the story of when I was in high school, and our yacht club sponsored a junior sailing regatta. My family housed two teenage boys from Long Island for the weekend. They were to sleep in my brother’s room. On one of the nights, I woke up to the sound of metal scratching against my windowpane. When I went to the window, I found one of the boys staring in. He had dragged our ladder from the shed. He was so drunk that I was worried he was going to fall, and I had to go downstairs and help him off of the ladder. I led him inside and then locked my bedroom door. He was crimson at breakfast the following morning.  

“You know if a boy really likes you the last thing he should ask you for is a nude because of the damage it could potentially cause you,” I say.  

“Yes, Mommy,” she responds with assurance. “I do know that.”

*****

If you liked reading this personal essay, please let me know. I'm working on a series of them (memoir and fiction) to be published in a book.  The ones I get positive feedback on will be included.

*****

Additionally, if you liked this essay, 

please check out my websiteShe Writes page, novels, and social media. 

Thank you for your time! 

Sunday Best  (2018) and The Adjustments (2016) 

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