It started as a clever pun. Send nudes – like, you know, nude bras. But once we started getting deeper into what a “Send Nudes” campaign might look like, we realized there was a lot to unpack here. Are we against sending naked photos of yourself, we thought? Actually, no. We’re all for it. What we are against are the men who, completely unsolicited, ask for these photos and when denied, may act irrationally and sometimes downright nasty.
After some research, we learned that requesting nude photos is a common tool sex traffickers use to target teens. Traffickers find teens or children on social media who seem like they need someone to talk to – their posts seem “moody” or “depressed” – and reach out to them offering support. Once gaining their trust, they will often ask the victim to send nude photos, promising to keep them private. The sexting quickly turns into sextortion (basically online blackmail) threatening to share the photos with their friends and family unless the trafficker gets what they want.
We realized the “Send Nudes” campaign could be more than women taking back the right to send or not to send whatever photos they want. It could do social good. That’s why we teamed up with Free the Girls – an organization that empowers girls rescued from sex trafficking, by providing a safe and powerful economic opportunity through the second-hand bra market.
Starting Tuesday, January 23rd, women can post their funniest “Send Nudes” response to Instagram with the hashtag #HarperWildeSendsNudes or comment on our Instagram post on @HarperWilde__ with their best response. For each response we receive, we will donate one bra to Free the Girls. And from February 7-14, we’ll donate another bra for every one purchased on our website.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman’s DM inbox without a “U got pics?” message in it. According to a (completely unofficial but probably still very accurate) online poll we ran, 61% of respondents said they have received an unwanted request to send nudes, with 38% saying they receive these messages on average 1-2 times per month.
“I used to get them all the time. It was only after I started posting pics of my boyfriend I think I became ‘too human’ or something and they stopped,” said Meaghan, a marketing manager from Los Angeles.
“Crazy that these guys assume if you’re single you’re fair game for whatever they want to send you.”
When requests for nudes are unexpected and unwanted, it can make the receiver feel anything from annoyed to embarrassed to violated.
“If you ask me for nudes unsolicited I’m going to be wildly offended. Where did that come from? Can you get to know me first? Why does how my body looks without clothes matter so much?” said Alayna, a visual manager from St. Louis.
Because these unwelcome messages can be unfortunately frequent, many women are choosing to use humor to combat them. By turning it into a funny exchange, we’re able to turn the conversation from a total violation to something similar to mild heartburn – like how you feel after chugging champagne and running through an airport (not suggested).
Katy Wellhousen, Harper Wilde’s Director of Marketing and Growth, had this exchange on Twitter.
By responding with humor, women are finding that they’re able to re-own the conversation by turning the shame back on the harasser.
“The strongest argument in favour of feminist humour, though, is the enormous effect to which it can be used. Laughing at a problem doesn’t just mean avoiding or belittling it – it can be one of the most powerful and effective ways to expose and tackle it,” wrote Laura Bates for The Guardian on how women choose to respond to unsolicited messages.
That’s why this Valentine’s Day we’re taking back “Send Nudes” and doing something good with it in the process. Get your screenshot finger ready and start posting your best responses to unwelcome demands for photos with #HarperWildeSendsNudes – we’ll be sharing the best ones on Instagram now until Valentine’s Day. You’ll be helping make a difference for victims of sex trafficking, and getting in a good jab at those guys in your DMs.
Send nudes? We’re sending thousands.
About Harper Wilde
Harper Wilde started with one simple question: “Why are bras so damn expensive?” Instead of finding an answer, they ran into more questions: why is the bra industry so over-sexualized? Why do bras have so many embellishments? As the questions piled up, so too did their passion to change the bra industry.
With the goal of empowering women with fairly-priced, quality bras, Jane and Jenna, who met while earning their MBAs at Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, talked to hundreds of women to determine what features women want and need in a bra, and which ones they don’t. Working with renowned intimates designers, they created everyday bras that match a woman’s real needs.
Harper Wilde is about way more than just lifting up “the ladies”. At Harper Wilde, Jenna and Jane believe a strong, empowered woman is the product of an educated young girl. Yet, there are over 31 million school-age girls without access to education, and women make up over two-thirds the number of illiterate adults. Making sure the prices of our bras are fair was a top priority for them, but they also wanted to do more to create an equal playing field for women on a broader scale. That’s why they’re donating a portion of our profits to girls’ education. For each additional year spent in primary school, a girl’s future earnings rises 10-20%.
About Free the Girls
Free The Girls is an international non-profit organization devoted to coming alongside sex trafficking survivors with a path to true freedom. It’s a journey from horrific trauma to reintegrating into the life they were meant to live within their family and community. Their goal for true freedom is measured by economic freedom, restored health, social well-being, education, and opportunity for a different, hopeful future.
Free the Girls partners with those who have a heart for victims of trafficking. With holistic reintegration programs and economic opportunity through bras, the organization offers the opportunity for these women to empower themselves to change the trajectory of their lives.
By donating your new or gently used bras, you’re giving economic opportunity that these women use to change their lives. Your financial donation helps survivors of human trafficking start their own businesses selling bras in their local second-hand clothing markets while they recover and build their new life. Free the Girls accepts both new and gently used bras of all sizes and styles, including sports bras, nursing bras, and camisoles.