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Courtesy of Ev'Yan Whitney

Master The Art Of The Sensual Thirst Trap With These Pro Tips

Taking the perfect sensual selfie is an art form.

Human Interest

The term selfie was coined, curated, and continued by the ever-innovative millennial. Sure, other generations were taking selfies with their disposable kodaks but we were the group to give this concept life. And while many of us mastered the necessary nooks, crannies, and angles to aim the target at in order to take the best of the best selfies, we're still mastering the art of the sexy selfies, er, thirst traps depending on who's asking and who's telling.

Sexy selfies are more distinguished, poised, sophisticated than your run of the mill nude pic. It leaves just enough to the imagination while also allowing the imagination of your target audience to get a sneak peak of what they're actually missing...at least for the moment.

Sexy selfies say "stay ready, so you don't have to get ready" should a nosey mofo somehow find their way into your private collection, in the case that you reserve them for a special someone (yourself included). Regular nudes scream "basic" and "amateur." At this grown age, we should all take pride in our sexy selfies, regardless of who they're intended for—if for no reason other than if I go out (because I've been tried), I'm going out with a lawsuit and hella pride. Nothing less.

Sexy selfies run the gamut when it comes to the attire. You can be as naked as you please, but as you'll know from your experience with regular selfies, it's the pose and angles everytime that put the sex in sexy.

While it does take patience, it's not impossible for any of us to pull off our own little boudoir photos. But, if you've ever seen your homegirl or fave influencer or whoever, post sexy selfies and wonder "how" — wonder no more. I reached out to the sexiest, most sensual selfie-taking people (myself included) that I know of for the best tips on how to execute and shoot your own sexy selfies.

Kiarra Sylvester, She/Her, Sex Educator

Courtesy of Kiarra Sylvester

"It's far from a perfect science and I'm far form being the perfect scientist but here's what I can say as the underdog of sexy selfies: Seduce yourself! View yourself from the same lens that a romantic partner might view you from — that's the type of self-love and unwavering lusty confidence that makes for a good selfie.

"Also, be committed to trying various angles! For a good one man shoot, I've gone as far as taping my phone to a ceiling fan for a flattering aerial view. As always, accessories are a girl's best friend! I, personally, have used everything from wigs, hand fans, and mirrors.

"Lastly, it's give and take. Give a little thigh, take a little thigh. Much like a game of operation you want to try moving all of your parts until you've got a match. The mind-fuckery of using a little thigh or arm wrap as a makeshift boa drives people wild, adding a touch of mystery."

Orixa, She/Her, Founder of Bad Girl, Good Human

Courtesy of Orixa

"I developed a level of comfort with my sensuality and self-portraiture by paying attention to myself and studying my reflection daily. Wherever I can see me, I pay attention. However, translating poses into stills isn't the greatest takeaway. It is emoting. Whatever you feel in that moment. Remaining fluent in your movement while in the act is what brings a sexy selfie home."

Tailah, She/Her, OnlyFans Entrepreneur

Courtesy of Tailah

"Taking a sexy selfie is not as simple as it looks. But over time, it gets easier. Like anything, you get better with practice. Knowing your angles is the first step. The saying 'one size fits all' does not apply to selfies angles. Find yours. You want to accent the sexy parts of you. Curves, curves, curves!

"Next step is to laugh. Literally, laugh out loud. Laughing at yourself will relax your face and body. It reminds you that it ain't that serious, it's just a selfie after all. Step three is the 'smize.' Yes, Tyra Banks' advice of smiling with your eyes is for real. They say 'the eyes are the key to the soul' or something like that. Look into that camera like it's the guy or girl of your dreams.

"These three steps should give you a good sexy selfie to work with. Don't skip the small details like moisturized lips, good lighting, an outfit that makes you feel like a snack, a clean space. But this is common freaking sense. All that smizing in front of a dirty bathroom sink? No baby."

Ev'Yan Whitney, They/She, Sexuality Doula and Sex Educator

Courtesy of Ev'Yan Whitney

"Two of my favorite go-to tricks for my best sensual selfies that I teach in my sensual self-portraiture classes are angles and flowers. Going into it, it's important that you're familiar with your body type, its curves, features, and how you're able to position it. I recommend doing some posing in the mirror and trying out different positions; this is a great way to get to know your body. Once you do that, you'll begin to find ways to angle your body to accentuate what you've got or boost what you don't.

"I'm a member of the small booty club but in this photo, you wouldn't know it based on the way I'm sitting—which, I'm squatting on my toes, arching my back, and strategically cropping the shot in such a way that makes my thighs and ass look bodacious (wearing thong underwear really helps too). I like to add flowers to all of my sensual selfies to bring some color and sensual softness to the shot. If all else fails, flowers are the perfect prop to play up, censor, or accentuate your sexy selfie. Buy yourself a bouquet and have fun exploring the ways you can wear flowers like an accessory."

Kendra, She/Her, Sex Educator

Courtesy of Kendra

"Personally, I like to tell stories with my selfies. So my first piece of advice to the selfie-taker is, ask yourself what you're trying to say or share through your selfie: is it just a 'look at me because I'm hot' pic? 'Decipher my brooding eyes' pic? WHAT if anything do you want your viewers to pick up on?

"Secondly, choose your setting. Whether it's predetermined or an impromptu decision, setting can add or take away from your photo. Decorate accordingly. This entails moving items and/or furniture around. Choose your lighting. Are you working with superficial light or those 8 a.m. rays coming through your window?

"Decide if the photo should be touched up or untouched (i.e filters, Photoshop, etc). There's no shame in editing. Filters aren't always about making blemishes magically disappear. You can add some shimmer here or there, fade a background, or blur some parts."

Allie J, She/Her, Hair Stylist and Model

Courtesy of Allie J

"When taking sexy selfies, I always make sure that I smell tasty. Smelling tasty makes me feel good and gets me hype for pictures. Knowing your angles is important, whether you're taking a picture of just your *assets*, your silhouette or just your face. For example, for my baby booty girls, the best angle is having the camera almost angled under it, making it look more juicy.

"Lastly, lighting is key for creating whatever mood you're in or trying to create. Dim light for some sultry vibes, different color LED lights for artsy vibes, or just natural golden hour for a flawless face/body pic. But the most important tip is confidence, confidence yields the best pics because the energy shines through!"

Sheriden Chanel, She/Her, Managing Editor of xoNecole and Podcast Host

Courtesy of Sheriden Chanel

"First and foremost, I take photos of myself for me. No matter what state I am in, clothed, unclothed, whether it makes it to the 'gram or just to my man's phone, I am operating from a space where I feel beautiful and connected deeply to myself. My self-portraits are one of the ways I make love to me and remind myself I am worthy of adoration. Sexy selfies definitely take that up a notch (or several) by reminding myself that I am also a sexual being. Moreover, I can tap into those sensual and sexual sides of myself without penetration, without sex, or without a partner.

"For me, it's all about good lighting and the mindset. My best tips for taking a sexy selfie is to first do something that makes you feel connected to your body. For me, that's dancing. I am reminded of hips, of softness, of the strength and the subtle fragility of my womanhood. I like capturing myself after those moments. I find a window to act as my source of light and light sheen of sweat that covers me adds to my glow. And then it's about seduction. Connect with the camera but also connect with your body. Accentuate your favorite parts of your body and find beauty in the simple things: displayed shoulders, the expanse of your back, exposed tattoos that feel like whispered secrets, the curve of your peach, parted lips, and hair.

"I have other photos, but perhaps this is the one that felt safest for work to me to share..."

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Featured image courtesy of Ev'Yan Whitney

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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