I joined a Melbourne exhibitionism community and it changed my self esteem

I think there’s something different about the quarantine nude because there’s so many people who can relate to the same feeling of isolation.

We’ve all had fairy dreams, not about fairies, but dreams of careers and aspirations that would completely destroy our public image and change people’s opinion of us forever. The internet has changed the way we viewed ourselves, and even changed how we behave to extreme lengths. We would make jokes only the internet would allow us to make and hold inside jokes that only our generation would know.

6 months ago, I took a plunge and tried something new that my character would never, ever try. I took naked images of myself and posted them online. If my friends found out I would be a laughing stock, but to me it was liberating.

But this isn’t a phenomenon. Growing up in a regional area, queer people are exposed to using online platforms to meet others (Tinder, Grindr, Snapchat), and the cultural framework of using alternative accounts to stay in the closet has now become more mainstream. During the months of lockdown in Melbourne, Insta mains became soft-core porn, and the void of personal connection brought a subgenre of the quarantine nude. Perhaps it defined the collective feeling of isolation. 

I found in all forms of social media, that a collective consciousness shifted and the lack of human interaction was at a bare minimum, leaving so many people craving validation by others that would never see them in this light before.

For the first months of 2020, I saw mutuals of mine launch OnlyFans accounts. The hype generated around the platform and the shock value of seeing someone you know bare, was a totally different type of surprise. After months had passed, I often wondered how it would feel to post to your main social media that this is your plan; that you would share your nude body online for all to see. “It took a global pandemic to motivate Alicia to send a naked photograph of herself to a friend”, via BuzzFeed, “The college student had sent nudes in the past, but only to her partner when she was in a relationship. Now single, Alicia was stuck in quarantine and wanted some validation”.

Is it ridiculous to say that the pandemic was making people hornier? We already know that answer, and what I learnt was that I wasn’t alone. People everywhere said they’ve been exchanging more intimate images with friends and on social media while self-isolating because of the pandemic. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s the bare truth. 

During the pandemic, sites such as Reddit and Twitter grew large with the growth of NSFW (Not Suitable for Work) content on the platform. In particular the financial hardship of those living alone left for the unique desperation of needing money and words of affirmation in solitude. I saw people of all shapes and sizes grow successful under alternative names, and I grew inspired. Reddit’s top five subreddits for publicly posting personal nudes by subscriber count are r/GoneWild, r/PetiteGoneWild, r/Asiansgonewild, r/GWCouples, r/GoneWild30plus. Each of those have seen a rise in posts since the start of February 2020. 

While the fear is terrifying, there is a huge demand, and little supply. In a world where pornography runs the place, to my surprise real amateur images and videos were the only successful posts on the platforms, and I wanted a piece of the pie.

I had grown up repressed and was denied a formal access to sexual education and ideas of self love. Throughout puberty I constantly questioned myself, my image and who I was to become. In more recent years, my mind had shifted to a place where my relationship with all things sex was internally sinful, and I would feel like I needed punishment for thoughts around pleasure, vanity and love.

So 6 months ago I took the plunge, and did something my character would never have planned to do. If my friends found out, I would be a laughing stock, but I don’t think they ever will. I posted a few images online to a Melbourne exhibitionist community and to my shock, the body I hated my entire life was accepted by a community in my own city and gained over 1000 likes within hours. 

I had grown up hating myself and how I looked in the mirror. Now, to be shown by people I will never know, that I may in fact be beautiful on the outside.

Article submitted anonymously

Image courtesy of Mark Weber.

Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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