In this piece, Connie*, 21, takes nude photographs every day for a week and documents her experience. As told to Tianna Soto.
When I think of the word “nude,” the word “empowerment” usually doesn’t come to mind. But why shouldn’t it? Why does taking nudes usually involve showing off for someone else, instead of taking them for ourselves? I recently took naked pictures every day for a week to see if they made me feel more empowered. While I had never taken nude photos for seven days straight, I knew it was something I was excited to do — even if I was surrounded by horse posters in my childhood bedroom.
In my past experiences taking nudes, the photos were always meant for someone else. I’d snap some shots, making sure not to include my face, and send them to a trusted lover or SO. But oh, how times have changed. Currently, I’m a single pringle and not very active on dating apps, and therefore, felt that this was the perfect time to explore my own sexuality outside of pleasing a partner. Here’s what I learned from taking nudes for a week straight, from fighting the urge to suck in my stomach to questioning the concept of what actually makes something “sexy.”
My bed has been my prime setting for capturing nudes in the past, so on day one, I decided to start taking photos where I was most comfortable, both physically and mentally. Laying on my side, I highlighted angles that showed off my hips, resisted the urge to suck in my stomach, and powered through the cramp that began to form in my good photo-taking arm. Having breasts that are on the smaller side is probably one of my biggest insecurities, and I love lounging on the bed, because it’s easier to seem like, for once in my life, I have cleavage.
After snapping some photos, I was surprised to learn that out of each one I took, I ended up liking the ones that showed off the features I was trying to hide most — AKA my belly and stretch marks. Although I was originally hoping to see an “hourglass” shape that society has told me I need, I gravitated more toward the photos that look like me. In some of the pictures, I recognized myself and saw that I could still look hot without contorting my body into uncomfortable angles. There was something unapologetic about not trying to hide that my breasts are small, or that I have a stomach, and I instantly wanted to experiment more.
On day two, I posed on the bed and took some mirror selfies to warm up. Once I snapped a few shots, I actually liked what I saw — of course, once I managed to ignore the pile of clothes in each photo that had accumulated in the corner of my room.
Feeling a little bolder (and also like I should probably clean my room?), I snapped a few more mirror pics. This time, I wasn’t actively trying to make it look like I had cleavage, and it became easier to pose naturally and have fun with the process. After all, these photos were meant for me, and it’s easier to pose when you’re not trying to make yourself look like someone you’re not.
Getting more creative with it, I set a self-timer and tried to make a seductive, yet innocent expression; however, things did not go according to plan, and I ended up looking more possessed than anything. With a little practice, though, and a lot more photos, I ended up capturing some images I liked — and even kept them in my phone to review the next morning.
When I saw them later on, I realized that loosening up and having fun gave me a level of power I suspect a queen feels when she sits on a throne, and I wanted to relish that feeling.
After experimenting with mirror pics, I decided to plop myself on the floor, legs extended to the side, and start snapping pics from a new angle on day three. With a glass of wine in my system, I started exploring different poses, twisting my body to highlight my long legs, derrière, and even getting closer to the mirror on my hands and knees. (Although, reflecting on the latter pose, I realize I looked more like a sleep-deprived lioness than suave seductress).
When I’ve taken nudes in the past, I usually try to avoid my legs, since I feel they expose my stretch marks (which, admittedly, I’m a little insecure about). Given the lighting and angles on day three, I realized that the floor-length mirror pics really accentuated my legs and thighs, and my stretch marks weren’t even visible in the photos. It felt different to show off a body part that I normally shy away from, so at that point, I figured it was worth posing comfortably instead of always trying to hide my insecurities.
Propping my phone against my bed and using a self-timer, I decided to take nudes on day four using my closet as a backdrop. Of course, my phone kept falling over, and the nude photos reflected my frustration. Shout-out to my furrowed brows evident in nearly every image. Even so, however, I did end up capturing a quality photo of me kneeling and showing off my breasts — only this time, I didn’t care about them looking small.
At that point in my nude-taking journey, I felt like posing comfortably was more important than “looking sexy.” Unfortunately, my favorite photo from day four ended up being one where I was blinking, which didn’t leave me feeling the most empowered. But I was determined to reset on day five, and decided that shutting my eyes for real and getting some sleep was way more appealing than trying another photoshoot.
To be totally honest, I wasn’t feeling the nudes on day five. I had a headache, and all I wanted to do was complete my 100-step nighttime skincare routine and go to bed. However, I powered through and took nudes anyway, only this time, in a new setting: the bathroom. I think it can be sexy to leave a bit to the imagination, so I wanted to experiment with a new look by wrapping a towel around myself and “accidentally” exposing parts of my body.
As it turned out, some photos in which I pretended to “accidentally” drop the towel looked good. But in others, the towel appeared to be more of a cape, and given that I’m not ready to give myself the Hero Of Nudes title just yet, I’ll admit — it wasn’t my best look. Yet, I was proud (at least, as proud as you can be when you’re operating as nude photographer and model) of taking the initiative and playing with a new pose. I was pleased to realize that, unlike I may have done in my past, I wasn’t using a towel to hide my insecurities, like stretch marks. Rather, I was using it as a prop to draw more attention to areas of my body, which felt way more artistic and empowering.
On day six, I decided to kick things up a notch and pose in a chair. My bookworm tendencies came in handy when my stack of Harry Potter books became a makeshift camera stand. Then, ignoring the thoughts that this chair used to reside in my grandma’s house (and shooing away any more ideas of that sort), I sat down and started my day six photoshoot.
Hanging my legs over the arm of the chair, leaning close to the camera, and experimenting with different postures made me feel confident. Inspired by this boudoir fanatic on TikTok, I decided to have fun with things on day five — and ultimately, it ended up being one of my favorite nude photo-taking sessions of the week. I realized that, once again, the more fun I had, the more empowered I felt.
By day seven, I realized I had somewhat exhausted many areas of my room with my nude modeling adventures, and for the grand finale, I wanted to try something a little different. Upon coming home from a night out, I decided to take nudes in a full face of makeup — different from the past six days, where I had taken nudes with none at all. Since I was feeling bubbly and confident on day seven, it felt ideal to snap some pics when I already felt empowered by my look.
I decided to take a few photos in my underwear first before stripping down, and looking back, I love how they turned out. My makeup was on point, and the photos looked — dare I say — sexy. By trying a variety of poses and showing off my insecurities rather than hiding them, I realized I was able to acknowledge my sexuality in a way I never had before. Without the pressure of sharing the nudes with anyone but myself, taking them became something fun, rather than intimidating.
Over the past few years, the attitude around taking nudes and loving your body has come a long way, and I’m all for it. Prior to this experiment, I never thought I could fit the traditionally “hot” or “sexy” labels, and as someone who’s a bit thicker, I always felt the urge to suck in my stomach or try poses that would hide my insecurities. Rarely did I feel sexy. However, during the seven-day challenge, I felt more independent and free to do what I want; after all, the nudes weren’t being sent to anyone for approval, and the experience was for me, myself, and I.
After a week of taking nudes, I returned to the original question I had when I embarked on this experiment: can taking nudes make you feel more empowered? In my case, I’m happy to report that I definitely feel more in control of my sexuality after taking nudes for myself — especially after posing how I wanted, and not letting my insecurities get in the way of my fun. Do I still have some insecurities with my body? Of course I do. But now, I know that showing off my legs, stomach — and yes, even the tiny amount of cleavage I have — isn’t something to be embarrassed about, because they’re a part of me.
Interview has been edited for length and clarity.
*Names have been changed.