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Instagram, I want to see your #presexselfies

I’d rather see your face in those moments of agonized anticipation right before the magic happens.


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Internet Culture


The #aftersexselfie is taking Instagram by storm. If you load up that hashtag, you can scroll through dozens of photos of people languorously strewn across comforters soaking in the precious beauty of a post-coital oxytocin high.

But the #aftersexselfie is not a popular genre of photo. Jezebel begs the Instagram community to “spare us,” Nerve calls it “gloating,” The Daily Mail calls it “oversharing,” and Time calls it a “step too far.” Other Instagram users are already starting to tear #aftersexselfie down from the inside by posting parodic and sometimes disgusting images in order to drown out the noise of their neighbors.

I’m not here to defend the #aftersexselfie but I certainly don’t object to it. I’m fine with people taking pictures of themselves whenever they want to and sharing them with whomever they want to. I might unfollow you on Instagram if you post too many but who am I to regulate a service that is primarily designed for bragging in the first place?

I do have one important question, though: Where is the #presexselfie?

I want to see your pre-sex selfies and I want to see them now. Think about those precious, tension-filled moments right before doing the deed. Maybe you’re making eyes at your lover from across the room. Maybe you’re at a nightclub dancing with someone you just met. Or maybe you’re already lying in bed spooning with your companion and you feel a finger slip inside the waistband of your underwear.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, take out that camera and SNAP! Show me your face in those moments of agonized anticipation right before the magic happens. I want to see the puppy dog yearning on your face as you wait for your lover to stride across the room, as you unzip your dress in the bathroom, as you feel that finger start to creep its way south.

By comparison, the #aftersexselfie is just dull. Once sexual congress is no longer in session, everyone has the same listless expression on their faces with a lingering twinkle in their eyes. Girls who post on the #aftersexselfie hashtag look like they’re doing their best supermodel impersonations: lifeless with a hint of pleasure. And the boys? They just look like a stone-faced George Washington with a sexy secret.

The #presexselfie, by contrast, is an infinitely more dynamic genre of sex-themed, auto-ethnographic photography. In contrast to the universal expression of “That was pretty good,” there are so many pre-sex faces, each of them interesting in their own way.

There’s the “This is Serious Business” face, complete with smoldering eyes and a solemn awareness of the filth that is about to follow. Experienced sexual professionals often don this face in order to convey the full gravitas of their carnal knowledge.

There’s the “We’re Doing This Now?” face which expresses both surprise at the circumstances in which the sex has come about and eagerness at the chance to suddenly shift gears. If you’ve ever had kitchen table sex, you’ve probably seen this face before.

There’s the “OMG Thank You!” face, common among straight boys. The “OMG Thank You!” face captures the moment when desperation becomes the most perfect, distilled gratitude for the pleasures that are finally about to come to pass. This is one of the cutest pre-sex faces.

There’s the “I’m Suddenly Shy” face which crops up when you least expect it. Someone who seems so confident when moving through the world with you will become a little apprehensive and modest once you dip your toes between the sheets.

And, of course, there’s the “I’m So Excited!” face, a simple, unchecked enthusiasm for sex. The wearer of this face knows that they probably look a little goofy but they don’t care because they are about to get it on.

The list doesn’t end there. And we won’t know the full variety of pre-sex faces until you get on Instagram and start sharing. So go ahead and take your #aftersexselfie. But don’t hide your pre-sex selfies under a bushel. You have so much anxious, anticipatory beauty to show the world. Get posting.

Samantha Allen is a doctoral fellow in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Emory University. In addition to writing regularly for the feminist gaming blog The Border House, her writing has also appeared on Salon, Jacobin, Kotaku, and First Person Scholar. You can find her on Twitter at @CousinDangereux or on the web at

Photo via stuartconner/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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