have all these photos of my butt on my phone. They’re hardly of the sexy variety — some are medical nudes, which are pictures you take to inspect hard-to-see bruises and send to friends who either went to medical school or know someone who did; some are contorted denim-covered butt pics, taken in the heat of the moment while trying on a gloriously great pair of jeans; and one is a photo my friend took of me in a swimsuit this summer while I was standing up, standing opposite her, two cheeks hanging out in the sun (hanging out being the operative word because she captured me in a state of relaxation, pre-swim bottom adjustment, with more of my behind exposed than I’m used to seeing on myself).
I have these photos on my phone because it’s nice to see your own butt sometimes! More often than not, I’m looking at my face or my feet or you, you know? So depending on my mood, it’s at least an interesting change of scenery. But what happens is these fairly G-rated photos stay on my phone and never see the light of day.
Not that photos of my butt need to see the light of day. My actual butt only gets to do this on special occasions. And for all my Instagramming tendencies, I’m an increasingly private person. Every once in a while, however, such a portrait is taken with a lovely background. Maybe the overall framed image is wholesome, if not entirely innocent, and with a touch of humor. Maybe there’s a rainbow overhead, hence my standing up and facing away from said friend. Maybe I’m in a really great swimsuit that I bought — I won’t lie to you — because I hoped it would make a social media debut, but for whatever reason, probably because it’s about the size of a baby’s knuckle and barely covers a freckle, hasn’t yet. This is the kind of photo I’d like to talk about today. The kind of photo I might post to Instagram if I lived in an alternate universe, but because I live in this universe, I wont. It’s a shame, but maybe also, it’s just the name of the game.
Here’s a list of some others. I figure if I can’t show, I can at least tell.
1. The selfie where I had unusually great lighting and felt confident so I made a kind of sexy smirk.
I chicken out every time, usually at the last minute, just before I’m about to do something coy, like post it without a caption (can you imagine). It’s just so much of my FACE, you know?
2. The selfie where I look pretty hungover and disgusting and almost posted it in a moment of I-don’t-give-a-fuck-ness.
Always decide against this, probably for the best, and end up sending it to friends instead. This, I highly recommend. They tend to respond back with photos of themselves in similar situations. You’ll end up laughing and reminding one another to hydrate. Plus, it’s something great to scroll back to should you start to feel sad on a Wednesday.
3. The group photo where I like how I look, but my friends didn’t like how they looked, so I went with the group consensus and posted the more universally-flattering photo.
It’s the price you pay for friendship. I tend to print these ones out and give them to my grandma.
4. The group photo where I look horrible but all my friends looked better.
I’d like to apologize to my chosen family for the few times I have gone this route. It was selfish, and though I think I’d do it again, I give you a free pass to post the one where you look like a celebrity, and I look like a surprised sea urchin.
5. That way-too-inside joke.
Nine times out of 10 I never regret this. Some things are better kept sacred. The 10th time I do regret it, easy: I fire it up and hit post. No stress here. THAT SAID: If I don’t post it, and later can’t find the screen shot, the loss can feel devastating.
6. The picture I spent way, wayyy too much time drawing over in the Instagram Stories draw-on-photo feature then later thought it was weird that I spent so much time drawing a fake island around myself in the background.
Big case of “I should learn to care less about what others think, because Instagram Story drawing is an art form to be respected.” Some day.
7. The picture I couldn’t think of a caption for and thus forgot about.
Meh, never a big deal. If the photo depended on a caption to make it work, probably wasn’t worth posting in the first place. If a great caption comes along later, I can always find a photo to match the joke.
8. All 23456789 photos of my friend’s dog and/or baby.
Definitely depriving the public of some good stuff here, but I’m always unsure of the protocol when it comes to posting someone else’s child and feel awkward asking.
9. The cheeseball happy birthday post of my best friends.
They’ll understand. This gets too stressful! I can’t handle the pressure!
10. The TBT I had all cued up but forgot about.
These I save by accident for a Thursday that never comes, caught in Instagram limbo for perpetuity. Too bad there’s no way to print these kinds of things I’d like to save forever out and display them meaningfully in frames… Sigh.
11. That weird meme I screenshot but then later decided wasn’t funny.
I only get mad about this when I see someone else post it, decide again thanks to new context that it is actually funny, then feel sad for not trusting my own gut/mad at a potential missed opportunity.
12. The artsy still life I took that later made me self-conscious for attempting such an artsy photo.
NO ONE CAN EVER KNOW.
13. The one where I’m in a yellow bikini with ruffles that’s pretttty small on the bottom, butt “hanging out,” as mentioned, standing up to take a picture of a rainbow, facing away from my friend who took the photo.
I know I already told you about this one, and I also know that I have previously posted photos that show what my grandma calls “my tuchas,” but those ones felt more family-friendly, less gratuitous. There was less skin. But also, I think I over-thought this one, let it linger in my phone for too long while debating a caption to balance out the butt, and agonizing over the people in my life who might see this photo and have some sort of horrified reaction. Maybe I’ll work up the courage up to post it on my birthday.
Illustrations by Ana Leovy.