WesBodies, a nude photo blog, gives bold students some major exposure.

The description of the WesBodies Tumblr proclaims it to be a “collection of the beautiful bodies of Wesleyan University.” This humble title, directly above a photo of a naked torso and erect penis of a muscular white body, follows the other slogan: “Don’t just look… Submit!”

Before WesBodies, there were WesBreasts and Westicles, two websites devoted to photos of female and male Wesleyan student bodies, respectively. WesBodies unified the sites to provide a more inclusive forum for those interested in posting pictures of their naked bodies, according to answers that a site administrator posted to anonymous questions posed by site viewers. The anonymous administrator of WesBodies, who declined to be interviewed, admitted to reposting photos originally submitted to the other Wesleyan sites, justifying it as a continued celebration of older but no less great photos.

A student who would prefer to remain anonymous discussed his experience with submitting a photo to Westicles.

“[I was] drunk and with friends,” he said. “It was freshman year. It was me and a bunch of seniors, and we were talking about it, and we decided to do it.”

Despite spontaneous submissions like the aforementioned student’s, WesBodies currently has very few photos. “Everyone [is] being a fucking prude,” the submitter said.

Of the few Wesleyan students who did submit, a majority are white and thin. The students interviewed about their perceptions of WesBodies emphasized their discomfort with this aspect of the site.

Sophie Sokolov ’18 and Hannah Thompson ’17 found the lack of diversity to be troubling. The two expressed an interest in starting a project with a concept similar to that of WesBodies, but with greater diversity. The site would remove the sexual undertones from the photos and instead celebrate Wesleyan students of diverse sizes, shapes, and colors. Though both Sokolov and Thompson like that the website exists as a forum for students who wish to post, neither is satisfied with the limited scope of the subjects.

Other colleges already have websites with goals similar to those espoused by Sokolov and Thompson. Wellesley College has a Tumblr called Wellesley Student Bodies. The concept is similar to WesBodies, but the tone is different. Interspersed with photos of nude and semi-nude women are artistic drawings of different body types captioned with the sentence, “We are all Wonderwomen.” One GIF of Demi Lovato walking with the wind blowing through her hair has a note from the editor of the site: “Just a reminder that you guys are all badass warriors stomping out your self destruction and storming that self hate with your awesomeness. Keep going. Keep fighting. Keep being powerful people. Keep destroying what destroys you.”

The Yale version of the site, called Yale Student Bodies, emphasizes a dialogue between the administrators of the site and the people who submit. In addition to the photos of slender, culturally normative bodies, there is a series of photos from a young woman who wanted to show her extreme weight gain during her time at Yale and her attempt to regain a positive body image.

The administrator of Yale Student Bodies wrote a post explaining that the site should open a dialogue about the image of the nude human body.

“You wouldn’t feel ashamed of exposing your body if you didn’t feel like it marked you as a pervert,” the post read. “So help break that cycle. Prove that your body isn’t a dirty sexual object. You’re a human, along with every other being that looks at these photos.”

Perhaps the biggest distinction between the Wellesley and Yale sites and WesBodies is the ambiguity about the goal of WesBodies. While Wellesley Student Bodies and Yale Student Bodies expressly promote body positivity, WesBodies’ posts, mostly uncaptioned, send out no explicit message.

Though WesBodies has caused a stir in some circles on campus, many students have not even heard of it. Some of the Wesleyan seniors interviewed were familiar with WesBreasts and Westicles, but beyond that, few students had heard of any of the sites.

“I don’t have an opinion about it because I don’t know what it is!” Lucy Salwen ’17 said.

WesBodies currently consists of mainly reposted WesBreasts and Westicles photos, lessening the allure to those already familiar with the other sites, although a new photo of a white male penis was added on September 30. Given Wesleyan’s propensity for nudity and sex positivity, the small number of submissions as well as the lack of diversity seems a little odd.

“It’s only super confident people who post,” said Tessa Hill ’17. “So by definition, it isn’t going to be very diverse, because it’s limited to those people. I don’t think this type of website could ever speak for the whole student body.”

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