Sally Hall: Just why do celebrities need to take naked pictures anyway?

Jennifer Lawrence.
Jennifer Lawrence.
2
Have your say

Another week, another celebrity whose naked photos have been exposed to the world.

First it was Jennifer Lawrence, then a quick succession of female A-listers from Rihanna to Daisy Lowe.

The latest celeb to express fear about her hot-bod shots going viral was Jessie J, who told chat show host Alan Carr: ‘I’m just waiting for mine to come out.’

More than 100 celebrities’ accounts are now known to have been hacked.

‘Girls’ creator Lena Dunham has named the phenomenon the “she was wearing a short skirt” of the web – in other words, a prime example of victim-blaming.

I completely agree with the writer and actress, who branded the hacker a sex offender, and any curious peepster who views these nuddy pics as a violator of women.

‘The way in which you share your body must be a CHOICE,’ she tweeted. ‘Support these women and do not look at these pictures.’

But there’s a meta-narrative to this story – and it goes beyond the simple fact that a cluster of stars have been violated.

While Ricky Gervais was widely criticised for his Twitter comment (which he hastily removed), there is some truth to his point.

‘Celebrities, make it harder for hackers to get nude pics of you from your computer by not putting nude pics of yourself on your computer.

My question is: why do people feel they need to pose for saucy selfies in the first place?

Yes, any woman who wishes to point a camera at her nether regions has every right to do so – as Lena says, it’s a personal choice.

But what about the societal and cultural pressures that inform this choice?

Explaining her decision, Jessie J blithely threw out this nugget of flawed wisdom: ‘I’ve been in lots of long distance relationships, and as a woman, you need to throw down some stuff to make sure you hold down your man.

This echoed Jennifer Lawrence’s explanation: ‘I was in a loving, healthy, great relationship for four years. It was long-distance, and either your boyfriend is going to look at porn or he’s going to look at you.’

What concerns me is the implicit suggestion that this is something women HAVE to do if they want to keep their man.

Not much of a choice there, then. The sense of compulsion applies to an even greater extent to many of the 37 per cent of young people in the UK who have shared naked photos of themselves via smartphone or social media – 24 per cent of whom later discovered that image has been re-shared without their consent.

Is it really an empowered choice that’s about celebrating a healthy sexual relationship and championing the beauty of the female form? Or is it something women and girls do because they think they should – fearing negative consequences if they don’t?

According to charity Ditch the Label, which carried out the nationwide research, children and young people now regard ‘sexting’ as normal.

Girls are twice as likely to send a naked photo as boys – and of the 2,732 young people interviewed, many had felt pressured to do so.

If some of the world’s most beautiful and accomplished women don’t feel confident enough to maintain their relationships without sending out nude pics, how are the rest of us supposed to feel?

(Especially a 14-year-old girl who’s just discovered the whole school has seen a picture of her naked). Something is very wrong here – and the problem doesn’t just lie with the sex-crime hacker who made these A-listers’ lives a misery. It goes much deeper than that.

Alexandra Shulman. PIC: PA

Jayne Dawson: Why a middle-aged woman in a bikini is creating a stir