I Found Naked Pictures of Myself on the Internet
The comments under these photos will stay with me for the rest of my life
This story is part of the Internet Time Machine, a collection about life online in the 2010s.
About a year ago, I found pictures of myself, naked, on the internet.
I hadn’t put them there, I hadn’t consented to have them posted, and I definitely hadn’t been prepared for what I read in the comments: Violent and cinematic descriptions of rape and abuse juxtaposed against my open mouth and thigh-highs and undone bra. My face was clearly and fully visible. I wouldn’t have seen them at all if a friend hadn’t tipped me off, the link embedded in a carefully neutral email that I appreciated later for its lack of assumption about what I was supposed to feel. “You look sexy! Do you know about this?”
I was 22 in the photos. I was posed and smiling for the camera. I’d certainly consented to have them taken by a friend, who did my hair and makeup, and perched me on a wooden stool to get the best angles. The stool broke at one point and we laughed about it.
When the pictures were taken, I’d already let go of the fantasy of posting them anywhere: The anonymity of my AOL chatroom childhood was long gone, replaced by Google image search and linked accounts. I shared some of the photos with a few people I trusted. I was old enough to comprehend consequences, but not old enough to accept my part in avoiding them. Apparently, I’m still not — nor will I ever be — because I refuse to accept that I was even remotely at fault for what happened.
About 20 NSFW photos of me taken during that shoot were stolen from my computer by a guy I knew, a guy I considered a friend, a guy I felt safe around. I found out later that he’d put them in a folder on his desktop, alongside numerous other folders labeled with the names of numerous other women that he knew. I still don’t know what was in those folders. Probably some photos pulled from Facebook, probably sometimes more. I called a few of the women and left it up to them what steps to take. You can only do so much.
He posted mine on a site specifically for revenge porn and “obtained” (read: stolen)…