Naked and proud: Why some Singaporean women are still posing for 'nude' photos

Stock image of a woman in stockings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Stock image of a woman in stockings. (Photo: Getty Images)

While photos of #OOTD, #FoodPorn and makeup transformations continue to flood our Instagram feeds, enter #nudeart and you’ll discover another side to the social media platform. You’ll find public photos of young women, some of whom are Singaporean, posing partially nude or implied nude.

Implied nudity refers to images in which models appear to be fully or partially naked when they might not necessarily be.

A model sits cross-legged on a messy bed with sheets covering her lady parts as she gazes out the window. The photographer captures her image while she looks deep in thought and shows a lot of skin. These images are then colour-corrected or edited with dreamy filters.

There’s nothing “sleazy or pornographic” about it, according to a Singaporean model who goes by her social media handle Violin Tiara. However, she went on to say that Singaporeans are still not open to implied nude art.

“I can’t be bothered about what other people think about me. I feel good in my own skin, so why not flaunt it? You only live once. At least when I grow old, I’ll still be able to appreciate these photos,” the model of 10 years told Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore in a recent interview.

She added, “I believe every woman should feel empowered by their own body.”

Meanwhile, in the opinion of blogger Jpglicious, who wanted to be known as Amanda, there are some in Singapore who have opened up and are starting to appreciate the art of intimate photography.

“Society is not like last time. If these photos are done artfully, people nowadays can appreciate and praise it. I’m not worried about my family or my employer finding out [about the pictures] … To me, it’s really a concept of ‘if you have it, flaunt it’,” said the engineer, who has posed nude before but mainly does lingerie and bikini shoots since she started five years ago.

While many photographers keep these photos for their personal portfolios or upload a select few onto their own professional Instagram accounts, some of the models revealed that there have been occasions where the photos are sold privately to clients.

When asked whether they had any concerns about how their photos are used, Violin and Amanda were both nonchalant about men possibly getting sexual gratification from the pictures.

Violin said laughingly, “It’s not really a bad thing, is it? At least I know I’m being fantasised about and can help them [the photographers] for such purposes.”

Amanda views it in a more altruistic way. She said, “If by posing for photos, I can help prevent them from doing anything bad to other girls, I’m okay with [collectors using the photos for sexual gratification].”

Besides posing in the name of art and body empowerment, such gigs offer fast cash, too.

Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore understands that it is common for these women to earn $150 cash per hour during a photoshoot, which typically doesn’t last the full hour if it’s only one photographer. There have been times when there would be more than one photographer shooting the girls, to save money and time.

The risk behind risque photos

The possibility of explicit photos getting leaked online stopped former implied nude model Rachel, 22, from pursuing such work.

“I’m a bit older now, and I realise that it is very risky if these pictures are leaked. While the money is good – I get paid about $150 for one hour of posing – I don’t think it’s worth the risk. Once something is posted online, it will always be there.”

For the seemingly cavalier Amanda, she admitted that she once feared her photographer might disseminate the photos freely.

“Even though I worked with a photographer that I’d long admired [for the nude shoot], the raw pictures were all with him, and there was a very short period after the shoot when I was worried about that. If one day something went wrong [and he released the pictures], then how?” she said.

In December 2016, Violin discovered doctored photos of her being leaked onto social media platforms, blogs and forums. The implied nude model said that her photos were edited to make her look completely naked.

“A few of my friends and social media followers informed me about the photos. I was told that they were posted on several websites. I made a police report and consulted with a lawyer, but there has been no progress to date,” said Violin.

Violin wasn’t the first model to fall victim to exploiting photographers. In 2014, explicit photographs of a then 18-year-old model were leaked to the SammyBoy forum and subsequently shared onto local blog Singapore Hall of Shame.

A 2014 screengrab from local sex blog Singapore Hall of Shame. Many Singaporean models say their nude photos have been uploaded onto sites like this without their consent. (Screengrab from Singapore Hall of Shame)
A 2014 screengrab from local sex blog Singapore Hall of Shame. Many Singaporean models say their nude photos have been uploaded onto sites like this without their consent. (Screengrab from Singapore Hall of Shame)

It was reported that the model had initially agreed to pose in lingerie before being coerced into posing fully nude while the photoshoot was taking place. That same year, a list of “blacklisted” photographers was circulated online.

But none of these would stop Violin and Amanda in their tracks.

“Why should I be scared of people finding out about the photos, when I post all these pictures on my social media myself?” Violin said.

“I used to live with fear, I was very scared of what my parents and friends would think,” Amanda said, “But I got out of that mindset because if I’m always so fearful, I won’t be able to live my life … You’ll be judged no matter what, so you might as well do what you want.”

Tell-tale signs of dodgy photographers and how to avoid them

According to Amanda, “Professional photo shoots are almost never one-to-one, because the photographer will typically have a team consisting of a make-up artist and assistant, and girls can always ask to bring someone. Even if you’ve already verbally agreed to a shoot, you can still turn it down if you’re not comfortable with it.”

She added, “You shouldn’t be scared about the photographer talking bad[ly] about you online if you reject the shoot; your own safety is more important than anything else.”

Violin said that she doesn’t accept photo shoots with photographers she is unfamiliar with and cannot trust, including those from the “blacklisted” list.

“I’ve heard about the blacklisted photographers before. I’m not new to the industry, I strictly only work with certain photographers for such shoots.”

For Rachel, “I used to check out the photographer’s portfolio before I even consider working with him, because if they haven’t done these type of intimate shoots before … They might think that just because they paid us for the shoot, they can try and take things further too.”

“You need to know where you stand, even before the photoshoot. It’s important to know your limits before the shoot even begins, or you might end up doing things you regret,” Amanda said.

Related story: The rise of Singapore’s “ratchet” influencers

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