Kic co-founder Steph Claire Smith has spoken out about the unfair treatment she endured after her nudes were leaked in high school.
In conversation with co-house and founder Laura Henshaw, Smith said she sent the photos of herself to a boy she was seeing, believing he would keep them private.
However, ‚It turns out he wasn’t deserving of my trust,” she said. “He sent it to a few friends, and it then found itself around the school.”
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‚I remember very clearly walking into school and knowing that it had been shared around the night before and girls wouldn’t talk to me, obviously my friends were fine, but girls wouldn’t talk to me. Everyone was just looking at me.
Smith also recalled that her female classmates interrogated her about her decision, especially after finding out she wasn’t ‘dating’ the boy, saying “Why would you do that? That’s so dumb. Like how dumb are you?”
Meanwhile, the “Guys would just make comments like, you know, ‘oh, nice photo’, you know, they’re f*cking teenagers like they just don’t understand how that feels.”
On the flipside, Smith says the boy who shared the images was “f*cking championed”.
“He was a legend. It was so bad,” she said.
Now, Smith says she feels no shame about the situation, and nor should she. Sending consensual nudes to someone you’re in a relationship with is not the problem, sharing them without consent is.
“Because of how I feel about that sort of stuff now, and I don’t believe there should be any shame around it, I don’t have any regrets or feel bad about it now,” she said.
“Also if ever any of those pictures were to resurface, I was underage…I was literally 16.”
But beyond the embarrassment she felt at the time, which we can all empathise with even though there should be no shame around taking the photos, what stood out was the unfair vilification of women in those scenarios.
Cybersafety should always be encouraged, but rather than critiquing the choice of the receiver (usually a man) to share them, which is illegal, especially when someone is underage, women are slut shamed and disparaged for taking the photos, and sending them to someone they trusted.
“[Sending nudes] can be risky, it can be sent around, if it’s on the internet it can stay there, but the shame around sending a photo… is f*cking sh*t.”
“Why do we blame women in this situation?‘, she said. “Every time! The one-sided shaming is not okay.”
Comments on the video of the podcast episode quickly came flooding, with women praising Smith and Henshaw for their candid conversation, especially Smith for her honesty on such a public scale.
“Now knowing that someone I look up to in the health & fitness industry and as a mother, has experienced the same thing I did in high school makes me feel a bit better about what I went through and also just shows it is a part of growing up and the blame definitely shouldn’t be on the female only, and that it doesn’t make you any less of the person you are today,” wrote one person.
“So many girls in my high school it happened to and the eyes were never on the boy who shared in,” another commented.
“The only person at fault was the make that shared the nude,” said another user.
It’s great to see these conversations being held at scale, which serve as an ever-relevant reminder that women are held to different standards than men, and classic catch-22 – damned if they do, damned if they don’t.