Jennifer Lawrence photo hack: The phenomenon of the naked selfie
'This is a part of becoming a sexual person in this decade', says psychologist
The generation of those not raised in the digital media era of the "selfie" may be shocked at the news of the celebrity photo hack — not so much that someone would leak such pictures, but that a number of young actresses would have naked or intimate pictures of themselves.
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But it's all part of a new generation that has grown up with new technology that has complemented a shift in the culture of documenting one's daily life, say some experts.
"I think it's really common. Remember all of these people grew up with cell phones so they've been accustomed to documenting this so I think this has been ingrained in their sexuality," said Michelle Drouin, a developmental psychologist who specializes in social media and the growing use of sexting.
"This is a part of becoming a sexual person in this decade. This really is part of the sexuality of today's youth."
Intimate images of dozens of celebrities, including Academy Award winner and Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence, swimsuit model Kate Upton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead have been leaked online by an anonymous hacker who claims to have stolen materials from more than 100 actors and singers.
That a number of young female celebrities would take naked selfies should not surprise, suggested Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist and director of Media Psychology Research Center.
"They're in a different standard of how you feel about your body. I'm not saying in a flaunting, sexual 'Aren't I swell' kind of way. But just in how you feel about it and how you relate to it as an asset."
The motive behind people taking such pictures may vary — whether they are images made for themselves or to be shared with their significant others. Winstead, for example, lashed out at anyone looking at photos, saying she "took with my husband years ago in the privacy of our home."
'It's so easy to take a picture'
But, as Drouin says, much of it has to do with the ability in these digital times to create an image of ourselves that is part of the image that people want to create for the public, or to another person.
"So do I want to have an image of sexuality to my significant other? Probably. It just gives you a really easy way to do that and it's so easy to take a picture," she said.
"If you really take a step back and take a look at the whole of what's happening in our culture, it just seems that people are being swept away in this direction and this is what we're doing. we're documenting all of these moments, publicly, privately — and it's easy to do that."
Dr. Jean Twenge, a psychologist and co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic, said while technology has enabled people to take more self pictures than in the past, there has also been a cultural shift, one of self focus, vanity and narcissism.
"There's just more interest in physical appearance, there's more interest in showing off. There's more interest in self image," Twenge said.
"Even if [the picture] was intended for one or two other people, don't they get to see that live? Why is there the need to take the picture?
Twenge said there is an element of voyeurism and narcissism involved in the naked selfie.
"I can point to 'Hey, I used to be hot, I used to be naked and hot.' It does speak a little bit to the shift in cultural values to be hot, or to at least once have been hot."
Rutledge said technology has enabled a changing sensibility when it comes to taking pictures.
"This whole taking pictures of yourself — the whole definition has changed and become much less of a big deal. It's become much more of a passing moment thing," she said.
"Part of what feeds into why they're taking pictures is that you really do have the sense that this is just private. And with the way technology has been used and as the culture becomes more and more visual, sharing these kinds of things become less and less of something that's weird to do and more and more of just 'lets try it or lets do it.'"
With files from The Associated Press