Somewhere out there, there's a picture of me naked. It's a Polaroid shot taken with an instant camera (y'know, back when cameras needed film). I'm lying on a bed, wearing nothing but me birthday suit. At the time of the picture, I was 19 and it was taken by my girlfriend at the time, I'm pretty sure for the purposes of saying that it had been done.
The existence of this photograph is of little concern to me. I doubt I'll ever run for office or be in the public light enough that a single snapshot of my dangly bits will cause much of a scandal. But I am not a beauty queen nor do I enter pageants. I certainly am not a spokesperson for the young conservatives of America.
In short, I'm not Carrie Prejean.
However, if I were Carrie Prejean, I would not have a solitary nude pic of myself floating around. I'd have around 30. And 7 or 8 sex tapes.
On the one hand, the gasps and titters that such productions produce are the result of a rather prudish sensibility that believes it's an appropriate punishment to fine a network hundreds of thousands of dollars for displaying, for a few seconds, one exposed breast on television. This is mostly relevant because the crowd for which Prejean is a poster child is the same crowd that tends to have a higher per capita of people espousing that very sensibility.
On the other hand, it is important to remember that while nudity is nothing to be ashamed of and America, collectively, needs to get over it's fear of flesh, it is also important to remember that display one's self thus is to some extent granting familiarity to the viewer, and familiarity tends to breed contempt (especially in people who then use that familiarity as a way to objectify the familiar.)
So with that preamble and Miss Prejean's example to draw from, I offer to the young people of America the following advice:
- If in doubt, do not take photos or film, digital or otherwise of yourself naked.
- If you do immortalize your genitals in visual media, do so on something you can easily erase or burn.
- If you do choose digital media, do not send it to anyone via email or text message.
- Never, ever put it in storage on the internet.
- And if you ignore all of the above advice and one day your naughty pics come up or your sex tape surfaces, own it. Answer questions honestly about why you did it and only be ashamed if you really are ashamed. Denial only makes you look sillier.
Teenagers (and most adults, for that matter,) have difficulty seeing the possible future repercussions of the actions taken in the present. Of a certainty, even if we had perfect clairvoyant precognition and could predict our sex tapes coming to the pubic eye, there are many that would choose to display their person, passion and performances none the less. But there are those that make such tapes with the assumption that it will never be seen by anyone who they do not choose to see it, and in the best recorded generation in history that is just not a realistic expectation.
So if you ever think you might be embarrassed by a videotaped lap dance or a record of the summer you decided to skinny dip for the camera or a replay of a night of intimacy and active cuddling, do not trust others that is deleted. Do it yourself or accept that one day, it might be front page news.
In my case, I bet my pic is somewhere in a landfill, and that's okay. But if it ever does see the light of day after I become famous, I certainly won't be telling Hannity that it was the worst mistake of my life. I'll have to admit that my only regret is that we didn't have better lighting.