Exposing The Selfie: Do We Dare To Bare? (NSFW)
Brian Zulberti selfie x4
On a handful of occasions, I have had the opportunity to pose nude. In one case, I was asked to model for a photographer. In another, it was participating in a film project. I have attended parties where guests were encouraged to expose themselves for a photo before leaving. I have even been asked to “bare if I dare” for a city-wide “naked bike ride.” There was always a sense of “art” not exploitation in these situations. However, there was no compelling reason at the time for me to show my assets.
Don’t get me wrong. I love nudity. But I’m more of a voyeur than an exhibitionist. I guess I just believe that other than in the locker room at the gym, there are no real compelling reasons to be naked in public. Maybe that’s me being practical (and perhaps a bit prudish), but in this age of GRINDR and Scruff, there are plenty of guys willing to put it all out there. I’m just not one of them. I can’t help but wonder when I see nude selfies: Is showing one’s face and ass brave or crazy?
I’m not someone who minds having his photo taken, But I do feel extremely self-conscious about nude photography. How could I possibly pose au natural and look natural? Perhaps my concern stems from the idea of there being a permanent record of my naked body available for anyone and everyone, from employers to exes to friends and family members.
I spoke with my photographer friend Gabriel Martinez, who has posed nude for his art, about making selfies. When the images are anonymous—folks exhibiting parts of their bodies, but not their faces—these photos can be titillating. Martinez showed me images of guys who took photos that compared their penises to bottles and cans. [visit: gabrielmartinez.com/new_work.html and click on GOYA] These images are erotic and amusing, but are such photos absurd or sexy?
Gabe Martinez self-portrait
Martinez thinks “putting it all out there” exposes vulnerability, but, he said, “It can also be liberating.” As a photographer, he took hyper-realistic self-portraits of his naked ass, showing every pore and pimple. These images puncture the beauty and eroticism of nudity, and perhaps would be more like the kind of naked truth I would provide.
“Selfies are often taken by gym rats, after they pump up. They feel good about themselves and want to interest and attract others on the Internet,” Martinez explained, adding, “It’s probably not the first shot taken,” suggesting that considerable time and effort go into these images which become permanent records. “They have the potential not just to capture the subject but transcend.”
These are sound points that serve to explain why someone would showcase themselves in ways that others might find inappropriate. But they also play on the photographer’s narcissism and exhibitionism.
Consider the case of Brian Zulberti, a law school graduate in Delaware who was looking for a job in the summer of 2013. He obtained a list of legal contacts and emailed them all for possible employment. But instead of attaching a resume, he included a candid photo of himself in a casual, sleeveless t-shirt.
The image caught the attention of a reporter, Staci Zaretsky, who found sexy, shirtless and underwear-clad photos of Zulberti online, including one that read, “Hire Me—not as an escort but as a lawyer.” One has to admire his gumption along with his hot body. An international media blitz ensued, and Zulberti became outspoken on the subject of exposing himself.
Zulberti resume enclosure
“Unless you are in pornography, modeling, self-employed, or in an extremely progressive or liberal company, no one (myself included) would ever say it is a good decision to take naked self pictures. Taking naked selfies is a good way to get fired, make yourself harder to hire if you are unemployed, and generally decrease your reputation in society. I would never advise anyone to take a naked self-portrait. My own story should make this very clear. If your goal in life is to protect your reputation and put yourself in the best possible position for a lifetime of steady employment followed by a happy, healthy retirement, don't take any naked pictures of yourself. And if you do, keep your face out of them,” he wrote in an email.
That said, he adamantly defends his decision to pose nude. “Despite the fact that I have been preaching it on my website and [elsewhere], when I took naked, graphic sexual pictures, of myself I was willingly putting my career and livelihood at serious risk. Some people are utterly incapable of understanding an individual who willingly throws away a bright future in order to make an unpopular minority viewpoint on a cause that he arguably cannot win. This is exactly what I did and I couldn't be prouder of my actions.”
He continued, questioning why sex, sexuality, and nudity—which a vast majority of folks enjoy—are ‘private’ concepts, and inappropriate for public display or consumption.
Zulberti "hire me"
“I personally find it exhilarating and exciting to look at other people naked, and even more so to be admired myself,” Zulberti writes about the pleasure he experiences and receives at viewing selfies.
“How dare society penalize people for participating and glorifying in sex and sexuality? Or for taking naked pictures of themselves for others to see and admire? The human body is the inspiration for some of the most beautiful and well-known artwork of all time, such as Michelangelo’s David.” He questions how folks can admire that work of art, but not have the same appreciation for a selfie, be it Zulberti’s or someone else’s.
“Posing naked, and enjoying naked photographs of others, are harmless activities that humans take part in. By making it taboo, we prove that we are a two-faced hypocritical society. We are making a form of self-expression ‘classless’ and ‘unprofessional.’ I find that wrong, and I believe it is a cause worth fighting for.”
He concluded, by stating, “I am proud of my pictures. I like how I look naked. I like—gasp—my penis. I proudly took naked pictures, as a professional, and I paid the price. And I'd do it again.”
What do you think, Instincters? Have you shot a selfie? Why or why not?