Sending explicit or nude photos online for money is becoming more and more popular, with apps and websites popping up allowing this, or people finding ways to do it on social media.
It’s great to have autonomy over your own body but sharing these images online, especially with strangers, can be incredibly dangerous and also damaging to your life in the future.
As a teenager, I had images of myself shared online by my abuser and I was powerless to stop where they ended up, who saw them and what they used them for. Years later I know they’re still somewhere online, or on somebody’s computer. I would give anything to have the photos of me taken offline, to get my body back.
Although it was never my choice to have images shared, I feel that I can understand people who have chosen to share images for money. I feel these websites/apps are encouraging and grooming young people to exploit themselves and although there is age verification often there are ways to bypass this.
Grooming is a horrendous practice where adults befriend young people and slowly, over time by giving positive affirmation or physical gifts and money they abuse the young person often without them even noticing. It can be done online or in person, and it can start from having an explicit picture online.
My main concern with these websites and apps is although one person pays for the image it can, and probably will be, shared amongst others. I’ve heard of people as young as 14 using these sites and they may think one person will look at the image but in reality, it will be shared widely.
Although you may have taken the image yourself for money and be okay with sharing it, if you are under 18 it is illegal. It makes me incredibly concerned that young teens want to share images for money.
Before you take explicit images, ask yourself WHY does someone want those images of a teenager? It is NEVER okay for images of someone under 18 to be shared, even by you. It may feel uplifting and you may get compliments for your images from adults who view them, but this is grooming. And although you may feel good when you get compliments there’s so many other ways to boost your self-esteem and feel good.
Boost your self-esteem
- Make a list of all the great things you’ve done, for example, if you’ve passed an exam or if you’ve learnt to play an instrument.
- Do something fun with someone you care about, you could go to the cinema, the beach or even do something more exhilarating like ziplining or a treetop climbing course (after lockdown ends of course).
- Look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re beautiful, it sounds crazy, but it can really make you feel more positive.
- Stop worrying about the opinions of everyone else- they don’t matter. It can be difficult to stop caring about other people’s opinions but if you’re getting negativity on social media then have a break from social media for a while.
- If you’re asked by an adult to share an explicit photo of yourself then say NO. It can be very empowering to say no to something that you don’t want to do or are worried about.
If you’re stuck in a situation sending images and you don’t want to, please ring Childline on 0800 111 111 or speak to someone you trust. If there are already images of you online that you want taken down then there are people to help you. You can use Childline’s Report Remove tool.
You can get help, you can get out of the situation you are in and things can get better.
*Lucie’s name has been changed
Reporter Ellie Flynn investigates how thousands of ordinary people and teenagers all across the world are making money from selling their own nude photos and videos.
Watch the documentary Nudes4Sale on BBC iPlayer.
Read more: Stay safe online and understand the dangers