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I CONFESS: Pictures can come back to haunt you


BARBADOS NATION

I CONFESS: Pictures can come back to haunt you

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I’M CONVINCED THAT common sense is the most uncommon ability in the world. And the longer I live, the more I see this.

Based on my experiences, people tend to be unwilling to think things through for themselves, even though the decisions they are called on to make would impact their lives for years to come.

If you think about it, I’m sure you know at least one person whom you cared about enough to warn them not to do something. But, they did it anyway, and when things went sour came begging for help.

What is even more laughable is that when you remind them that you warned them, they usually get vex. They never like to be reminded of their folly. That is the part that really ticks me off.

Because of dealing with such matters over the years with family, friends, and on-the-job, I am thoroughly convinced that many people do not think about the consequences of their actions, particularly when it comes to emotional relationships.

In other words, they just do not apply basic common sense.

As a youth counsellor in an inner city school in the United States, this is one of my biggest challenges. Even when I reason with them and use my mistake as an example, they still don’t see the sense of what I am saying. The attitude is “that could never happen to me”.

It is only after they ignore my advice and get burned that they realise the seriousness of what I was telling them. Thankfully, only a few of the scores of girls I would have spoken with have been affected by what I warned them against.

I’m speaking about taking pictures in suggestive poses wearing skimpy clothing. I did that a lot when I was a young teen because I saw no harm in it. I was good-looking, had a well-developed body for a 14-year-old, and so, flaunted it.

My major attraction at that age were my breasts. I had developed early and had a lovely pair any woman would have been proud to possess. At that age, such assets were the envy of the other girls at school. My looks made me a “star” in that environment and I relished being the centre of attraction.

But what I enjoyed most was taking pictures. As soon as a camera came out, I would fly in front of it. Those were the late 1990s, the early days of digital cameras and emails, so everybody who was somebody wanted to pose in front of a camera and email their pictures to friends.

In my case, I took pictures with just about whoever was around in the group I was with, even if I did not know the person well. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t doing anything wrong; I was just having fun.

In those days I used to imagine being like Mariah Carey. So I used to wear my hair like hers and tried to mimic her in whatever way I could.

For the young people reading this, at that time mobile phones were not commonplace and the ones that were available were clumsy-looking things by today’s standards. There was also nothing called Facebook, far less any of the other social media platforms that are easily accessible today. I just thought I should say that so you would appreciate why email posts were such a big deal.

Anyway, some friends, girls and boys, went to this outing during summer. There we took loads of pictures in the tiniest bikinis and provocative positions – you know how it is when teens get together and are unsupervised. We had great fun doing the pictures and thought nothing of them even after seeing how risqué they were. At that age those things are what you live for.

Fast-forward nearly six years when I was looking to get a work attachment. Would you believe that three of the most prestigious places that I went for interviews questioned my judgment based on those pictures. That they were taken when I was a carefree, fun-loving teen did not matter. All these people were interested in was that I had demonstrated irresponsibility and poor judgment. So despite explaining my actions, none of the three accepted me on board – and they were my top three picks. I had to settle for one of the lesser-respected institutions.

Because of this I always caution young women in particular about the type of pictures they take and with whom.

What does all of this have to do with Barbados?

In my most recent visit back home – I am Bajan by birth – I was shown pictures of young women scantily clad in provocative positions at fetes, Crop Over events and other festivities. A lot of these pictures make the ones I did look like real child’s play.

Quite frankly, a lot of these pictures can best be described as crass and in very poor taste. It really hurt me to look at those pictures knowing full well that in years to come, when many of those girls mature, they will be horrified to see what they did.

That thought prompted me to write this letter because I want young women to start thinking about what they are doing. When you pose in a skimpy outfit in a position that simulates sex with people around gawking at the spectacle, you are devaluing yourself. You are saying to the world, I would do anything.

Those type of pictures stain your character because they portray you as a person of loose morals.

With more and more employers hiring companies to research the background of potential employees, especially their old internet postings, it could mean the difference between landing the job you want or unemployment.

I therefore urge you to use your common sense and stop allowing yourself to be photographed in skimpy clothing and sexually explicit positions.

Believe me, those pictures can come back to haunt you. You have been warned!

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