"I felt like if I didn't do it (send the nude), they wouldn't continue to talk to me anymore."
Sexting – Possibly the common way to communicate with a love interest in today’s society, and more so for Desi girls looking to stay current in the eyes of their loved one.
It raises the question, do girls send nudes because they feel insecure?
Before delving into the insecurities, it’s worth asking why they send nudes at all.
Opinions and reasons vary, but to a Desi girl who perhaps is not allowed to date, sending a nude may be her security for staying relevant.
According to Do Something, more girls send nudes than boys. They send nudes for a number of reasons, including:
- To keep the guy interested.
- Pressure or because he asked.
Some of these reasons link to each other. But they all stem back to the fear of staying relevant by fitting in with social norms.
Why do Desi Girls send Nudes?
Maya Kahn, 19 from London, spoke about a girl’s confidence being amplified by sending nudes:
“Probably validation that they do look good, and some attention. Something that makes them feel good about themselves. If a guy likes what he sees, it gives you confidence.”
“Attention“ is the key word here. Kahn realises that all girls need attention because every girl wants the man she’s with to love her body. This doesn’t necessarily mean a girl is vain or a narcissist.
Desi girls are commonly not allowed to expose their bodies, which could make nudes more interesting. Nobody else has seen her body before, and if she needs the attention to confirm she does look good naked, then this is it.
Attention can be a form of insecurity as girls want to feel attractive. A guy can help with this because he can praise her body and make her feel sexy.
Kahn says: “Desi Girls (send nudes) mostly because I feel we live in an oppressed society. It’s not easy being a British Asian when your culture and standards are so different, yet we are born in this modern society.”
If it’s the oppression of living with cultural taboos that make Desi girls send nudes, then nudes are simply a way of breaking free from this chain. Because guys can mostly do what they want, girls feel like they need to be accepted too.
On why she sent nudes in the past, Kahn says: “Mostly cos he wanted it and I wanted to make him feel happy.”
Many girls say they send nudes because the man wanted it. Succumbing to this means that girls want him to stay interested, they are afraid that if they don’t – somebody else will. This can stem from a girl’s insecurities, as she needs to feel that the guy is into her.
Pressure from the man makes a girl sometimes feel obliged to please him. Jeffrey Kluger, says:
“Some people who are insecure about a relationship could sext to keep the other person interested.”
A general worry for girls is that the guy will lose interest if she doesn’t send him that topless selfie he’s been asking for.
Traditional Desi views will conflict with modern ones. A traditional view would not allow a girl to show her body to anyone before marriage, but as social media grows, so does the convenience of online relationships, making it easier to send a nude than before.
It never has been and never will be a girl’s job to keep a guy interested, yet so many girls think that this is their job. Desi girls put this down to needing to impress a man they perhaps have a chance at marrying.
The Pressure to Send Nudes
A study by Julia R. Lippman and Scott W. Campbell suggests that it’s not attention but simply pressure from the males the girls send nudes to.
The difference between gender judgements is clear in this study, as according to male participants, girls who send nudes are “insecure” and “crazy”. The girls, however, maintained that they felt pressured into sending nudes. And that if they didn’t then they would not be desired anymore.
The responses from the girls suggest a desire for social acceptance and following social norms that lead to girls sending nudes.
Sexting is convenient, and the males in the study viewed a girl sending a nude as a normal thing to do. If she didn’t then she was a “prude”. Yet, the men also viewed girls who sent nudes as “attention seeking”.
One girl in the study, said: “I felt like if I didn’t do it (send the nude), they wouldn’t continue to talk to me anymore.”
Campbell also refers to a study by Strassberg Mckinnon in which out of young people who believed sexting was acceptable, 28.7% sent a nude. Out of those who thought it was wrong, 4.9% still sent one. More girls than boys had sent nudes.
The Normalisation of Sending Nudes
Some girls, it was reported in the studies, had said that everybody was doing it. These girls did not feel ashamed because it was the normal thing to do. For these girls then, it didn’t have anything to do with insecurities but rather they didn’t see it as anything too important to worry about.
For British Asians, sending nudes may just be a norm too. It is now far easier to sext and sends nudes through the convenience of social media, phones and online dating.
It is nothing different to what is already taking place. The traditional values of covering up and not showing anyone anything is lost in the world of social media, where anything has become possible.
Snapchat has made it far easier to send nudes without the fear of being caught. Desi girls can find the convenience of sending a nude on Snapchat to be almost encouraging and harmless.
The University of Richmond released a title by Nicole A. Poltash which delves into the psychology of sending nudes over Snapchat.
Snapchat promises its users that images will be deleted after the recipient has seen them, and if they take a screenshot the user will be alerted. Even if law enforcement comes looking for the pictures, they will not be found.
This sense of security is what Poltash argues is the foundation of Snapchat being used for sexting and nudes.
A website called ‘Snapchat Sluts’ was also found, where girls around the world voluntarily sent pictures of themselves nude. This suggests the ease girls feel towards sending nudes. Whether or not this had anything to do with insecurities is unclear, but it suggests that it has been normalised.
Zara Ahmed, 27 from Blackburn, says: “They feel like it’s the norm now and so they do it to fit in. Could possibly think the guy is expecting it from them too so to please them.”
Fears, Insecurities and Trying to Fit In
If a Desi girl wants to stick to traditional values such as no sex before marriage, then nudes are the halfway point between staying loyal to principles and to the man they want to keep. This is an insecurity issue as girls should not feel obliged to send nudes for any reason.
If Desi girls feel the need to want to fit in, it is because society has taught them they must adhere to social rules if they want to be liked.
LSE reports in a study that young girls are often seeing sexualised images of women around the world. But, when they produce an image like this themselves, they are criticised.
Another reason why girls may feel insecure is that they feel the blame lies with them. Desi girls will know just like any other girl that it may be seen as wrong to send a nude by parents and other family members and friends.
Cases, where girls are subjected to abuse and cyberbullying after a nude, goes viral only adds to this.
The media plays a role in shaming young girls after their insecurities lead to them sending a nude. The insecurities themselves are not addressed.
LSE argues that projects such as the UK’S Exposed, send a message that the blame for a nude going viral lies with the sender and not the receiver. This further implies that a girl is insecure and needs the media to reinform her what could happen if she sent a nude.
What a girl may not like about herself, a man looking at her naked body might love about her. In this way, sending a nude is a Desi girl’s way of boosting her self-esteem and confidence. However, as the studies by Campbell suggest, the receiver may pressure the girl into feeling like she needs to send the nude to be accepted.
Raveena, 24 from Birmingham, tells us she has never sent nudes, but if she were, she said: “It would be like to tease someone or just to feel accepted by someone with a body like this.”
Body image is very important to girls all over the world. Many young girls are plagued by images online of celebrities with amazing bodies. This makes a girl feel as though she needs to look like that too, and her only audience is herself – unless she sends a nude.
If the nude is well received, then a girl will feel pretty, she will feel that her body can also be accepted. However, girls who think like this are forgetting that perceptions of beauty vary, and a nude is just giving a man expectations of more nudes.
Again, social media has a part to play in the insecurities girls face when sexting. Campbell suggests it is the social approval that most girls who sext desire. This desire is fed to them through what social media norms are.
Do Some Girls Like Sending Nudes?
Despite these reasons, there are still girls who like sending nudes. Not every girl is asked or even pressured. Some girls like it because they perhaps feel confident enough to flaunt it.
As mentioned above, some girls viewed sending a nude as a completely normal thing to do. However, the dangers of sending nudes should be considered before doing so.
It may even be that the girl wants to show the man she is with just how interested she is, by sending a nude. Some may be slightly narcissistic and simply want to show a guy how hot she is. Some Desi girls might argue that if they’re engaged then a nude is harmless, and will keep the relationship alive.
Nudes can be exciting to send because a girl wants a guy to see how beautiful she is underneath the clothes. It is not always to do with insecurities. As Zara Ahmed says:
“Sometimes girls may send nudes to show the guy how confident they are.”
Nevertheless, insecurities in Desi girls who send nudes may arise because they do not feel attractive until someone has seen and praised their body. When this doesn’t happen, a girl may feel worthless.
It’s important to teach Desi girls everywhere that her body is her temple, and beauty is not determined just by appearance.