What to do if nude photos were ever leaked?
November 24, 2013 10:33 PM   Subscribe

I’m in my very early twenties. I made some horrific decisions in my late teens to send guys naked photos of myself. Yes, completely naked. Yes, including my face. While none of them have leaked as far as I know, I’ve been extremely anxious about the possibility that they one day will. I pray everyday for it not to happen. I was young, stupid, insecure. I’m going into a field where, if I’m successful, I’ll be in the public eye, where I’ll be well-known to some degree. I worry that one day these photos will either be used as blackmail or be leaked…or that it’ll ruin a blossoming career. I worry that the bad decisions I made to hurt myself will haunt me. What can I do to alleviate this risk, and if it does indeed happen, how can I deal with it in the best way to save my career, relationships, soul?

I’m sick with anxiety that my photos will leak but I know I can’t help it anyway — what’s done is done. However, I was thinking — What would be the best, least harmful, most humane, most classy way to deal with a leaking of nude photos from your teen/early twenty years if you were 35 or older? How would a smart, happy, successful, content and life-savvy woman handle this if it does indeed happen? How could I respond if the photos leaked or someone I know found them or the media spread them everywhere? What are the best words to use/not use and how could I make this into the smallest deal in the world if the photos ever were to surface? I’d like to get into broadcast journalism/other media. How can I prepare mentally for this scenario and handle it with dignity and grace if it ever happened?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
"Yep, it's me. Everyone does impulsive things when they're young. Unless they're lying. I'm not convinced it was classy of the chap that leaked it. But it happens. My goodness I was a healthy specimen back then, wasn't I?"

posted by taff at 10:39 PM on November 24, 2013 [84 favorites]

I'd wonder how late teens you meant. If you were legal, well, people do stupid stuff and life goes on. My response would be along the lines of "Yes, when I was younger I did participate in some private sexualized activity that I expected to remain private. It has not, and while I'm not happy about the dissemination of this material, that was then and this is now."

If you were pre-legal, well ... no idea.
posted by tilde at 10:40 PM on November 24, 2013

Mod note: From the OP:
"If you were pre-legal" No. There were some photos were I was 17, but...by and large I was 18+. I sent the photos to a total of three guys.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:45 PM on November 24, 2013

If you're in the public eye in the future, especially in broadcast journalism, you will have access to handlers/PR people whose entire jobs will be to tell you what to do and say. They will be able to read the climate at the time very well, and will be able to advise you. You can think about it now if you want, but the culture will have changed significantly, as will your profile. Trust that if anyone will be in a position to care, there will be people in a position to help you fix it.

If you're not in the public eye, almost no one will care (perhaps if you're a teacher? That's the biggest problem right now but I suspect it will decrease as time goes on).

Consider, though, that a huge number of people who are in their teens and twenties now have sent naked pictures to people. Dan Savage (and I) predict this is going to be less and less of a big deal because it's going to be so common. Maybe a helpful comparison would be presidential candidates and pot-smoking: Clinton "didn't inhale," Obama did... a lot. It wasn't a problem because cultural values change over relatively short amounts of time. As sexting etc. keep being a common thing, people are going to start caring way less.

I'm assuming you're being ironic when you worry about your soul (and relationship) in the question, but to be honest your concern over this seems pretty disproportionate to a problem that is likely to be nbd in a decade or so. Is there other stressful stuff going on in your life right now? It seems like you might be sublimating other stress into this concern. I want to encourage you not to worry about this because a) it probably won't be a huge deal because even now people are weathering sexy picture "scandals" just fine and b) there's nothing you can do about it anyway, so fixating on it as a problem will just stress you out more. You made a decision that a ton of people your age have made. It will most likely be completely okay, and it says nothing about your worth or judgment as a person: this was totally within the realm of normal behavior for this time and that age. Think about why you're sick with worry about this, and try to let it go. Save that energy for your professional plans and hopes.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 10:50 PM on November 24, 2013 [23 favorites]

One point of comparison might be the number of politicians who now openly admit to smoking marijuana in their teens and early twenties, including the current president of the United States, and how things have changed in the 20 years since Bill Clinton's "I didn't inhale."

This isn't an exact analogy, of course, but you are among peers in the same situation, and in 15 years' time, the broad social environment will reflect that. And since you're entering journalism, you actually have a chance to shape how the profession will address what happens when young people's judgements with technology re-emerge in later life.

So, you say what taff said. And you prepare mentally by doing what you can to stop other people from being punished for such things.
posted by holgate at 10:51 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

It sounds like at least some of it would be child pornography. And so that part might land the leaking party in hot water. I'm not sure if you would also be in trouble, if it's a picture of yourself. But that might keep people from sharing some of it.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:52 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Dr. Laura, the most uptight broadcaster in history, survived having her vulva all over the internet. It didn't harm her much because she played the "I was young but now have learned" card, which is pretty much standard in these situations. Her actual undoing was the fact that she didn't learn enough, and her racist rant about the N-word is what effectively killed her career, not her money shots.

It is unlikely your pics will ever surface. Even if they do, no one will give much of a fig. If you ever need to address it, don't deny, don't be arrogant and don't make it a big deal.

People like to forgive dumb things young people do. Stupid things that adults do when they should know better, not so much.
posted by sageleaf at 10:54 PM on November 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

What's your relationship with the recipients of the photos? Are any or all of them the type of person to use them to hurt you, i.e., is this a realistic worry? Is it likely they gave the photos to others?

Any chance of simply asking them to send them back if they were prints or deleting them if they were electronic? It's maybe not necessary to relate it to your job in the public eye or potential blackmail (no need to plant a seed) but simply that it was something you did as a young person and kind of wish you hadn't.
posted by Beti at 10:55 PM on November 24, 2013

As long as you don't do anything that is *both* morally repugnant and illegal, copping to it and saying sorry (and not repeating the offense) will almost definitely be enough to get you over the hump.

Think about Ford in Toronto or Barry in DC or any of the other of the multitude of public figures caught doing much worse things, and think about how they've bounced back. I can't remember a single modern scandal where old nude pictures sent to a boyfriend has undone a career, and a couple instances where it has made one.

In the ultimate worst case scenario, if someone is out to get you, they will try and fling whatever negative or embarrassing things they can. Nude pictures sent to boyfriends in your late teens is such an innocent, ordinary mistake that I think using it would backfire in a mudslinging campaign.

Remember, you can do bad things and you can break the law, but you can't do both at the same time and expect to get out of it without a major wrist-slapping if you get caught. Luckily, it sounds like you haven't done bad things *or* broken the law yet.
posted by rue72 at 11:15 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like with almost everything of this nature, everyone else will use your reaction to this as a guide to how to respond. If you don't give a shit, the story will be about how you don't give a shit. Everyone will move on.

But it won't ever come to that, because no one cares now, and no one will care in the future. Promise. Your most difficult professional task from now on is the exact opposite--making people give a shit about you.

Doing anything else, like apologizing, makes the narrative about how you're sorry and ashamed. You have far more control over the story than you realize.
posted by danny the boy at 11:20 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't borrow trouble, personally. There's an awful lot of steps between "naked photos to three guys" and "Having a career where blackmail is valid, and the guys leak the pics, and it becomes a huge scandal".

I think the saturation of this in the media, and the narratives we remember about it is somewhat tilting your perception. Firstly, you might never become a newsreader or politician or whatever; a lot of people think they'll have a certain career when they are younger and it doesn't shake out that way for a variety of reasons.

Secondly, even if it does, these guys might never do anything with the photos - or even still have the photos. Hard drives crash, phones get lost, people have a sense of dignity etc.

Thirdly, even if it does leak, it's not much of a big deal in western culture these days - and I'd happily wager it will become even less of a big deal as time goes on.

There are lots, lots more nude photos out there - even nude photos of famous people - then they are scandals involving nude photos. Like, literally hundreds of thousands more, if not millions.

tll;dr This is the equivalent about worrying about being hit by lightning because you play golf; there's a lot of steps in between the two, and the vast majority of golf players are never hit.
posted by smoke at 11:34 PM on November 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

A huge amount of famous people have had nude pics leaked by now and it hasn't hurt them at all -- Blake Lively, Scarlett Johansson, Kate Middleton, even someone like Selena Gomez, whose rep is still squeaky squeaky clean, even after the pictures leaked. They were nudes you sent to a boyfriend when you were young. VERY few people will have reaction to this so negative that it will harm you. Often nowadays, the public reaction has leaned toward, "what a rotten invasion of privacy for her." If this does happen to you -- which it probably won't since half those dudes may well have deleted them from their phones in hopes of keeping a current gf from finding them and being irritated with them for hanging onto naked shots of an ex -- I think it's very likely that people will just sympathize with you, especially if you tell the truth (you were very young and it was an error in judgement [and one that harms no one but yourself, a truly very innocent error]).

If someone DOES try to blackmail you, which I strongly doubt, by the way, tell them to release the photos. As time goes on, this entire scenario will be more and more of a non-story, not the least because the news cycle is fast. I mean, seriously, Anthony Weiner could probably have been elected to office again if he had just been able to STOP sexting, as an ADULT PUBLIC OFFICIAL. You will be FINE on the off chance these ever reappear (but I bet they won't).
posted by Countess Sandwich at 11:36 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

As people have already said, it seems like it's completely normal, already not a big deal and becoming less every day. But also consider - unless you have tattoos or similar distinctive features, actual pictures of you from your teens probably won't be any more recognizably you than pictures of people who simply randomly resemble you. People probably won't naturally jump to the conclusion they're seeing you, unless someone was trying to make them about you, which risks sticking their neck out.

Also consider that it appears that there is now critical mass behind efforts to put additional laws in place to protect you from those outcomes. By the time you've got a career to worry about, I suspect you (and everyone else) will have the kind of legal sledgehammer that should make it extremely un-tempting for someone to leak photos they don't have permission to share.
posted by anonymisc at 11:44 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I agree with what others have been saying ...

I think Madonna was the first person to respond to her leaked nude photos with "Pffft, so what?!?" We should all thank her for that. Think of all the celebrities that *haven't* been hurt by their nude photos landing on the internet. My friend is a high school teacher, and this friend tells me that the number of incidents of students sending nude photos back and forth is staggering. It is a constant headache for the school's administration. Even if they are leaked, I don't think this will ruin a career five or ten years from now. I would be willing to wager that even today a competent news anchor could survive such a scandal even in a place like Jackson, MS or Birmingham, AL. Embarrassing? For sure. Cause you to end up unemployable and on the street? Not likely.
posted by Crotalus at 11:51 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

One practical step you can take now that would help if this ever did happen is to build your personal web presence under your real name with positive and neutral stuff (like, not a personal blog where you bare your soul, but maybe blogs and social accounts where you focus on topics related to your career, hobbies and interests).

You don't have to be boring and totally "professional," but just not like "aaargh I'm fighting with family member" drama stuff or "I have such a big crush on X," and take some care with what photos you post so that they are not always party pics, or whatever. Just try to keep things nice and balanced and showing you as a real, multi-dimensional person who [plays soccer / volunteers at X organization / fosters animals / plays guitar / reads mystery novels / hikes / whatever you actually do and like]. It's a lot harder for people to build an imaginary sexy-sex-sex-naughty-vixen narrative about you when everything else just shows a nice, normal person who does nice normal people stuff like everyone else, and in the unlikely event it does happen, it's better to have a whole lot of you-curated stuff out there that will come up in a search of your name rather than just some leaked image.
posted by taz at 12:16 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]

I'd ask yourself, how helpful being hyper-vigilant against this threat of disclosure is. Is there anything you could do now to stop such an occurance to happen?

When it comes to anxiety, I think it is truly important to measure the potential threat against how helpful "protecting" against that threat is. Make a chart showing the advantages of focusing on the threat of this against the disadvantages.

I don't think there is a high percentage chance these come out, especially linked to you.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can save your soul but not worrying about something that has not yet happened, and may not happen.

Although lots of people do, apparently, post nude pictures of others on the internet it is reasonable to assume that lots of people don't. The fact that you don't think yours have surfaced online yet is a good thing. Both from an intent perspective - mature adults generally don't decide to post pictures of exes online - and a practical perspective - digital media might last forever in the right circumstances but it also needs to be looked after or it gets lost, deleted, corrupted.

In terms of impact on your career: there is an entire generation of ex-kids and ex-teenagers who have sent nude pics of themselves to others. I don't think the stigma will magically disappear, but it will diminish greatly simply because of the volume of these sorts of pics out there, and the sheer number of people who've done the same thing as you, before and after you.

On the assumption that you do become famous in a field where professionalism is key: Taz's advice is a good one from the perspective of managing your online presence. After this unfortunate byline went viral, Times journalist Roger Boyes hired a firm to do just that, with the result that while the story isn't cleansed from the internet, it takes second fiddle to other information about the man.

In the UK member of parliament Gloria de Piero is known to have been photographed topless, and the gutter press have hunted for the pictures with a view to paying large sums for them. They haven't appeared, and it's sparked a strong backlash on the matter. This is not a matter of downplaying the pictures - although that option remains open - but aggressively asking why their presence matters so much to the people looking for them, and what it says about people who choose to view them and choose to use them for political means. That story caused a few ripples in October. The pictures are now, basically, toxic.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

I barely recognise most photos of me from when I was 18. Anyone who didn't know me quite well at that age would probably not know if it was me or someone similar.

Are they good quality pictures? Selfies with a phone and poor lighting and not the world's greatest camera are less likely to be identified. Similarly, any significant birthmarks or similar?

Depending on your relationship with who you sent the pictures to, say if it was a guy you dated briefly and didn't stay in contact with... they may well have forgotten your name, probably won't recognise you, and nor will anyone know if the pictures are actually you or just a similar looking 18-year old.
posted by Ashlyth at 1:31 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Be the change you want to see in the world: When you're a journalist and someone says, "Hey, we should do a story on those naked pics of Famous Woman," say "No, we shouldn't. It's prurient and shaming, and the only real story is Some Asshole is attempting to shame Famous Woman for the sin of being attractive enough that people want to see naked pictures of her, and let's not give Some Asshole any help in that."

And then, twenty years from now, when you're a famous journalist and one of your old boyfriends decides he needs a few bucks or just wants to be an asshole and damage you with the pics, A) we may well live in a world where that doesn't work anymore, or B) you at least have a longstanding record of not being so ashamed of it, so your career isn't actually on the line, and you stand up and say, "Yep, I took naked pictures. I'm not ashamed of it, but Old Boyfriend should be ashamed of trying to share them with the world." And then you win all the awards ever.
posted by Etrigan at 1:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [16 favorites]

David Letterman handled the publicity about his sleeping with employees by mentioning it on his show. He did not try to deny or bury the facts since that only serves to reinforce them and give them broader distribution. I'll bet you remember the New York politician who tried to deny sending pictures of himself in his undies. Obviously, that did not work well for him and he became a laughing stock. Taff has the best advice. If the pictures ever come into circulation, pass it off as a poor decision by a teen-ager.
posted by Cranberry at 2:21 AM on November 25, 2013

It may already have happened and neither you nor anyone else knows or cares about it. In the unlikely event that it happens in the future, probably on the same day you get struck by lightning just after buying a winning lottery ticket, then deal with it then.

The advice here is good, read it, print it out and get on with your glittering career.
posted by epo at 2:21 AM on November 25, 2013

Things like this matter less and less. In the future, everyone will be Internet naked for 15 minutes.

But I would write down everything you can remember about the gentlemen to whom you gave these pictures. Especially anything embarrassing, but also tame stuff. You never know what will come in handy. Record it all and keep it all at the ready just in case there is call for it. Not that you should ever voluntarily get into any sort of poo-flinging match if you can avoid it, but if the poo flies and you see no other option but to fling some back, you should try to have a reserve of the juiciest. In any event, famous old you might need the material for your memoirs. "And now let me tell you about the skunks who sold my pictures to the media. There's not much to tell. Each was inconsequential in his own way. But for the record, here is all I remember of them."
posted by pracowity at 2:35 AM on November 25, 2013

It's done and you can't undo it. Therefore if it ever came down to it the only thing you can do is look them in the eye and front it out. "Yeah, I love them - don't I look fabulous? Surely you've all seen boobs before. What is this, 1950?"
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]

You need to own it. There is nothing wrong with being human.
You made a mistake. But, it is hardly a fatal mistake.
The cover up is always worse.
posted by Flood at 4:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Yes, I've seen the reports about those photos, and yes they're me. I felt pressured into taking them, and in at least some of them, I was underage. I deeply regret taking them, and I deplore that the men who pressured me to take those photos released them. I think this raises important questions about the messages our society is sending young girls and the sexualization of children. [Possible reference to the task force or non-profit you will create to tackle the subject.] I will be pursuing my legal options with my lawyers."

I am metaphysically certain that framing the story in such a way if the photos ever came out and were linked to you will deflect any real damage to you. In fact, I'd expect it paints you as a sympathetic figure, and may help you on a net basis.

This kind of thing is increasingly common. I really wouldn't fixate on it. What I would do, though, is concentrate on the framing that I would want to message (like above or otherwise) and spend a quiet weekend reciting it aloud. Pretend you're giving a press conference or an interview. Actually say the words, controlling your voice. Improvise, but stay on message. Have "the speech" at the ready. After a weekend or so of practice, possibly with periodic refreshers, you will always have it in your back pocket so that you can start framing it as soon as you hear about it. That's important.

And, in all likelihood, it will never come up. Best of luck.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

For 99% of our time here as humans, we've lived in small communal groups, naked and in close quarters with every aspect of each other's lives. As people share more and more of their lives on the Internet, we draw ever closer to this natural state.

Being young gives you a pass. What respectable adult is going to admit to looking at nude, barely legal girls? For the image to actually hurt you, it would have to betray some kind of hypocrisy - like if your carreer goal is to become a right wing, anti-porn talking head for Fox News.

So just stop worrying. Don't let this anxiety pollute your enthusiasm and energy.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:40 AM on November 25, 2013

My response "oh, I know, how mortifying!" and that's it. No justification or explanation needed. No apologies or excuses. Then life will go on.

taz had great points - make your web presence positive and neutral so these pics are seen as an aberration, not the norm. I wouldn't worry about blackmail either. Blackmail only works when you haven't forgiven yourself for being young and stupid.

Finally Kate Middleton has some embarrassing pix out there. Remember when her skirt flew up in Calgary? Yup you probably forgot about that one too. So don't worry.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:43 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I would not use the phrase "I was pressured". I'm totally not an expert, but I read through this whole thread thinking "yeah, everyone did it, no big deal" but when I got to "pressured" it opened up a whole new line of thinking "pressured by whom? why? were they brought to justice?" etc. I wanted to KNOW THE WHOLE STORY, rather than just No Big Deal.
posted by CathyG at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]

People get naked. Folks understand for the most part.

Bogart used to introduce his mistress to the press thus: "And this gentlemen, is my mistress." They'd smile kind of uncomfortably and ignore it. Hiding in plain sight.

Be brave. You're still walking around naked under all those clothes. So what?

By the time it matters, perhaps we'll also come to grips with people (even WOMEN!) being sexual? One can hope.
posted by FauxScot at 6:52 AM on November 25, 2013

Shame them.

Don't let them get away with it. Those who thrust or view discovered pictures of you naked and 17 shouid be helped to understand how uncouth it is to bring them to you for an explanation. One's privacy should not be doubly violated and let them know that. You rise head and shoulders above such people. Good luck.
posted by Kruger5 at 7:05 AM on November 25, 2013

You are in your VERY early 20s and this happened when you were 17-19? So it just happened. Your concern is how things will play out down the road when you are 35+

This could ruin your career, but not because the photos leak and there is a scandal about it in 2030. Your career could be ruined by indecisiveness, worry, and fear of these pictures eroding the confidence and focus you're going to need to excel in a high publicity business.

Spending the next 10-20 years crafting the perfect PR response to a potential leak will be far less valuable than letting go and putting this in the past. You have to work on being that huge success, that's your job right now, not tripping on what's behind you.
posted by French Fry at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

OK, to be honest most normal guys I know wouldn't leak the photos, they might put them in the spank bank so to speak, but normal adult human beings that respect other people don't do shit like release naked photos of people unless they are the lowest of the low So your odds are low they'd come out anyway, unless one of the guys is a complete wanker. I also imagine that the fact you look so young and were 17 in one case would keep most of the people pretty quiet about it just out of fear they'll get into trouble. That is assuming any of them have kept the photos this long and not lost them in changing computers or phones or deleted them when their new gf found them.

If they were to come out, do what others have said. Say yes they are me, I was young and foolish, we've all been young and foolish, but I've learnt. I would also add a "and man I wish I still looked anything like that good naked" make people realize the image they are seeing is not you naked it is you then naked which is not the same thing.

If you are even vaguely publicly known a good lawyer and some PR people could spin this into a non event over in a news cycle. I imagine by the time you are in your 30's most adults in the same age group or younger will have naked pictures of themselves out there somewhere, and maybe the US will have joined the rest of the western world in going "oh yes a human body very nice but what's the big deal".
posted by wwax at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

By the time you're 35, dumb naked selfies will be the equivalent of naked baby pictures. Hell, it'll probably be a scandal to NOT have any (what, did you not have any friends?!), and anybody emerging out of the woodwork with "scandalous" photos of you better have ones of you, like, burying a body in a shallow grave or shooting up heroin with your opponent.

Actually...Rob Ford. I think it'd have to be actual video of you punching a baby. Don't do that, and if you must do it don't take videos.

People are already starting to not care. Ten years from now it'll be nothing.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Your "soul" is not in danger. Unless you become actually famous one day, (not just "in the public eye") your pictures would be nothing more than one of millions of naked people that can be seen on the Internet. You will quite likely not actually be recognizable; and in the incredibly unlikely event that someone sees pictures and brings it up to you, you could simply deny it's you. Unless you are wearing a name tag or there is something that points to you specifically, this is going to be out of date picture that is probably low quality, and cannot actually be tied to you.

Not that there is any particular thing you need to hide here. It's not nearly as stupid a thing to do as you seem to think it is, and has no bearing on your character.

Most people would not leak these pictures, and if you were to be blackmailed, go to the police. Even if the pictures then leaked, people would generally recognize your privacy was violated. And the threat of blackmail is really only even a distant concern if you become legitimately famous or rich.
posted by spaltavian at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2013

For a perspective on how this sort of thing plays out with non-famous people:
posted by Gor-ella at 8:06 AM on November 25, 2013

Adding to Krueger5, it is shameful to the person who makes private moments public. Not on you for having a relationship with someone, but on them for being callous enough to put it online.

So if queried, the response is, "Oh, I know, how mortifying. I can't believe that person didn't have the sense to keep couple stuff private." (Similar to Scar Jo's response to her nekkid photos.) You could add "Thank goodness I don't hang around with people with such poor judgement anymore" if you feel it necessary.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2013

I highly, highly recommend reading the chapter from The Gift of Fear on threats (Chapter 7). I know your question is specifically how to manage this if it DOES happen, but it can be empowering to know what to do if an ex (or whoever) Facebooks you out of the blue with vague threats about leaking them.

The gist of it is to make amateur extortionists really commit. Don't freak out or try to appease them. Be very polite, but play dumb. Don't respond to them saying "You were so beautiful in those pictures we took..." by offering them money. Say "I don't really understand what you're getting at." Get them to fully spell out that they want you to do X or they will release your pictures to Y. The idea is that many people can't go through with this. They'll do a halfhearted, opportunistic attempt to see if you'll bite, but few people are willing to commit hard enough that they actually blackmail/extort you. Keep screenshots and chatlogs.
posted by almostmanda at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

They could be out online and you don't know it and nobody cares or recognizes you. A situation where the photos come out as being you specifically would require you to be pretty famous, so I guess you can only hope the scenario is even possible, but it would also require your ex-crushes or whoever these guys were to be a) total assholes b) be holding onto the photos for years. It just doesn't seem that likely. Basically, I wouldn't worry. The situations that sound like they could be you (broadcast journalism or politics) means you should have a PR team helping you out.

My PR take is it's best to admit the photos, say you learned from it, and move on. Don't say anything that prompts further questions or implies anything illegal. If you can say you took the photos for a boyfriend who you had a long-term relationship with, that's even better, but I wouldn't lie.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2013

You're living in a world where children are being given tiny high resolution internet-enabled movie cameras for free because their parents have bought better ones. Not having embarrassing photos (which is all a nude is, really, we all got bodies) out there somewhere will make you the exception in a few years.

If it would make you feel better, write a paragraph of non-specific boilerplate text (silly mistake, learned from it, valuable lesson) and put it away in a sealed envelope somewhere. I am almost certain you'll never use it, but at least you will have done everything you can.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2013

So I've done nude modeling in my day and have definitely thought about this. Depending on what industry you're in this may or may not be appropriate, but I would play it off nonchalantly. Something like "Yeah... and?" It's a naked body, everyone has seen them, and there isn't anything inherently shameful in sending nude photos to guys in your teens. It's more society's perception of nude photos than anything wrong with you or your morals or whatever.

Of course, depending on who you work for/what media you cater to, it may not be wise to say this.
posted by Autumn at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2013

Agreeing with the 'no big deal' response - because nakedness is really no big deal.

I also agree that having a response prepared is an important element of your 'defence' - I use that term, because the only context where this discussion is relevant is when the subject is raised in an accusatory manner.

But for your own mental health and stability, you need to believe that they are nbd. Not only will this make your response (if ever it is needed) genuine, it will relieve you of the guilt that you appear to still carry, and the worry that will be a drag on both your personal and professional lives.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:27 PM on November 25, 2013

This will be such a common thing in the future that nobody will care.
posted by Dansaman at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2013

You're overcorrecting from your previous attitude, trying to even it out.

These will most likely be gone and forgotten; in our digital age not everything can be kept and catalogued by individuals, there's too much.

These will probably not be leaked. Even if they are, it will not ruin your life.

Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself for this indiscretion. Recognize that you are not alone in this, that this has been almost the whole of human experience since cameras were first made available.
posted by RainyJay at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2013

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