A typical Monday night in my teeny studio consists of me collaging cutout images of the Backstreet Boys in a 90s fangirl zine, attempting to reorganize my life by marathoning “Hoarders,” and snapping too many Justin Bieber-inspired nude selfies. It’s on these spawning nights that I not only craft and scar myself with imagery of once-adorable now squashed breathless kittens under reckless 60-year-old women’s China cabinets, but also lodge in significant dosages of self-love. And of course, validation of the highest degree exclusively manifests itself through picture-perfect selfies of my unrestrained body.
My obsession with snagging gleaming, ultra-alluring pics of my naked bits isn’t a secret I hide. In fact, I openly spit about my successful solo photoshoots with everyone—essential strangers I meet while waiting for my morning Caramel Macchiato, and even my mother when our phone conversations stray into lulling territory. Spilling unsought specified risqué details without consent, I jump to reporting on the activities of perhaps the most intimate moments of my nights to encourage those in similar safe-jacketless boats of insecurities that it’s possible to mobilize self-love without the affirmation of strangers who stupidly hadn’t swiped right on our Tinder profiles.
It’s as simple as breaking out that selfie-stick (yes, the only seemingly real reason for a non-tourist to use a selfie-stick is for #Flawless ass pics) and spinning some circa 2005 Natasha Bedingfield tracks to realize you are B-E-A-U-tiful. Duh.
With this knowledge in our seamless pockets, a friend of mine had thought it best, being that we were parting ways for an unforeseen amount of time, that she host a party wherein we share our most prized nudes with our collected friends. Not your typical going away party, but just the right mix of oddball activities intertwined with wackily important body positive spirits.
And although the party was aligned with my special interest and forte, I struggled to forward a fresh batch of nudes to my friend when she had been finalizing the amassing of revealing pics. I’m not afraid to admit that I take perhaps too many nude selfies, but, truth be told, I rarely share these snippets of my body with others because—well, the fear of being criticized (by lovers, friends, and strangers) for my perceivably flawed body is a difficult, wholly consuming thought that quite literally triggers emotionally debilitating feels. I may talk a good game, but my performance is weak AF. Trust me.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always felt uncomfortable and embarrassed of my body. Being that I’ve always held a subpar build and lacked any intriguing facial features, embracing my nakedness has continually been a challenge. Being gay, on top of all these manic insecurities, has only furthered this self-hate—the likelihood of me warping into the lookalike of some model I thirst follow on Instagram or developing a chiseled jawline any day soon doesn’t seem all the bit likely. After all, I’m chubby, have plenty of overriding stretchmarks, and probably haven’t shaved my pubes in over seven months. Who would really want to see any of this, anyways?
I gripped tight to the freshly taken images on my cellular (mainly because in my freshman year of college I accidentally made my Facebook profile picture my dick pic with one wrong move) and wound my breathe deep inside as I pressed “Send” on a message with a cherubic-like nude attached that featured my flaccid penis and ass to my friend. I soon took another breathe as my friend hastily replied with gleamingly positive feelings.
“OMG! I am obsessed with your body,” I felt her scream via. the help of countless emojis. “I’ve always wanted to see your naked, beautiful body in a platonic manner and form and—well, my dreams have come true!”
The night of the party had tiptoed upon us quickly, and my anxieties over showcasing my nudes with others had nearly hit the roof as I approached my friend’s apartment. I started to question whether or not everyone in attendance would somehow know, despite my face not being featured in the picture, that my privates were actually mine. I pummeled my fears into the psyches of other friends who had submitted their own unchecked pics of their bods into the sea of nude selfies, making them slightly unhinged prior to entering the space as well. Still, they reassured me that no one would care about my mediocre sized friend, or even try to link my nude back to me. And, in all honesty, I knew they were probably right.
Okay, big breath in, Ken. Exhale. Enter the apartment.
By the time we had gotten there, the party was abuzz with giddy excitement as practically everyone I knew was aghast by their friends and their own nudes placarded next to one another. Some shots were rather intimate, detailing moments between couples seemingly during their post-orgasmic bliss. Others were striking masturbatory pics that were most definitely sent off to a lover at 2a.m. after a hazy Saturday night. Everyone was spilling their tightly stitched baggage before each other unapologetically, and I—for the first time in my life—felt proud to be within my body.
Once in the makeshift gallery, each anxiety that plagued my existence had vanished, and I couldn’t stop pointedly directing people I had barely held one conversation with before to the sight of my nude. After consuming perhaps one too many Fireball shots, I remember incessantly belting, “Guys, that’s my dick!” wanting no one to leave having not seen my body in its rawest form.
And after hearing all the positive thoughts and support from those who shared their nudes to those who just happened to stumble into the party, I finally felt sexy in my own skin. And when I looked over at my nude before leaving again, I realized, for the first time, that I actually am sexy, no matter who says otherwise.