Sex tapes! Do they ever leave the news? Between former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards’ trial where his sex tape with former mistress Rielle Hunter is back with a vengeance, Nicki Minaj sex tape fan fiction, and the grossness that is the infamous Octomom spanking it for cash, you’d almost think a sex tape/photo/image scandal was inevitable for us all. But before you roll your eyes, click your tongue, and commence to complaining about all these gosh-darn celebrities with their gosh-darn sex tapes and nuddie pics, compose yourself and recognize — unless you’re a giant prude like myself who is CONVINCED taking any suggestive picture will escape into Google and ruin my life forever — you probably have some sexy picture of something somewhere that you sent to someone.
No judgments. Maybe you were flirting? Maybe you were simply documenting your weight gain or loss? Whatever. But no matter the reason, you too can have a sexy pic/video scandal.
Sure, you won’t end up on Entertainment Tonight or CNN with the booby flash you sent the object of your affection while he was stationed in Afghanistan, but the brilliance and danger of social media is your one-time flirtation can end up as a permanent record in an Internet search engine.
So what do you do when your professional peers, school, regional community, or family circle accidentally gets a hold of what was hot in hindsight and has become not when posted on someone’s Tumblr?
Here is how you handle the damage control.
1. Denial. Depending on the quality and angle of the photo, you may be able to just pull a Shaggy and say “It wasn’t me.” Especially if A) your head isn’t in the shot and B) there are no identifying marks, items, or unique background that can be tied to you. And if it can’t be tied to you, go all the way it. Convince yourself you’re innocent then fight the problem as an innocent person would — either by laughing it off or threatening the owner of the Tumblr you will call your lawyers if they don’t take the picture down.
2. Can’t deny ? Own it. OK. So they can really see your face. That’s rough. But you aren’t going to get anyone’s pity. Even if you’re getting criticized by hypocrites who have an iPhone full of their bare bums in various positions. So, determine whether or not that picture actually makes you look hot. Like, if you look good, you look good! Why should you be ashamed of looking good? In fact, take a tip from Rihanna. When a nude cell phone picture surfaced of her, she responded, “that would be ME … when I was skinny!” It’s not about accusations and how did this happen, but “do I look good?” If you look good. Own it!
3. Unless you can’t “own it,” then face it. Most of us don’t make our livings off of being super attractive. What might be cool for a singer, fashion model, fitness expert, reality show contestant, or pro-athlete will not work for you if you’re an elementary school teacher. In that case, you need to choose this four-pronged response: Tell your employer what’s going on before it gets to them to mitigate damage; admit responsibility; apologize profusely or even in writing or publicly if necessary; and politely contact those posting your photo/video to take it down, only threatening legal action on those who are being jerks about it. It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s better than your job finding out on its own, then sending the photo to everyone you know at work and to all your future employers.
4. If all else fails, ignore it. Much like schoolyard bullying, sometimes the best response is a non-response. If someone asks you about it, you should be all, “So what? Don’t care.” If they ask if it was you, “Yeah. So what? Don’t care.” If they ask you how it got out, you’re all, “I don’t know. Don’t care. Why do you care so much?” In fact, if they actually dare to answer that, then you can turn it all back on the accuser with some shame, shame, shame: “I would find it disappointing if you judged me, who I am, and my entire body of work just on some photo I took for my own personal amusement. If in this day and age of Craigslist Congressmen and celebrity sex tapes, you can’t understand how a simple photo from a Blackberry wound up on Facebook, and how little that has to do with the full measure of a person, I guess I really didn’t know you at all, Grandma.” Yeah. That’ll tell ‘em.
Also remember, it’s important to maintain perspective and not have an overreaction that could actual make your personal sex scandal last longer than necessary. Choose a positive plan of attack and stick with it. Don’t lose your cool and don’t let them see you sweat … over your sweaty sex pic.
Danielle Belton is the creator/writer for the blog blacksnob.com. The biggest story of her career revolved around her friend getting caught up in the Craigslist Congressman scandal that brought down the political career of New York Republican Chris Lee, adding to her continued paranoia of never taking a picture that could be confused as a “sexy” picture.