Dear Prudence

Help! A Photo of My Butt Went Viral.

Read what Prudie had to say in Part 2 of this week’s live chat.

A graphic of underwear, and a woman covering her face.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by kazuma seki/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here’s an edited transcript of this week’s chat.

Q. More than one photo: I’m a junior at a small college (hundreds of students, not thousands). Every fall, there’s an “undie run” during homecoming week. I had never participated (out of my comfort zone), but this year I decided to “let loose” and attend. Many people wear costumes and patterned boxers, but I, like some others, ended up just wearing my actual underwear (which didn’t leave a lot to the imagination). Honestly, it was pretty good stupid fun and I was happy I went.

Advertisement

A day or two later, I saw photos someone had apparently been taking of the event. There is one of me, from behind, that proceeds to go viral on campus. Prudie, I cannot overstate how flattering this photo is. The lighting, the angle, something. I am pretty thin and have something back there, but this makes me look like I have J.Lo-level booty. I cannot live up to this! You can’t see my face, but people knew it was me (small campus after all). I generally dress pretty casually, a lot of looser clothes, nothing super tight or revealing, so I think part of the “sensation” was this photo caught people off-guard.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

I was mortified at first—everyone has seen my a$$!—and thought about asking for it to be taken down, but I eventually decided to just laugh it off. In the end I didn’t hate the attention for a bit. The thing is, it’s almost two months later, and it still feels like the thing I’m known for now. And, I am about to run for a big position in our student government. Some friends say I should embrace this as part of my campaign, like using the attention for good. I am not going to do that. But how do I get people to take me seriously? I really don’t care that people have seen my butt, but I don’t want this dumb photo to undercut all the work I’ve done.

Advertisement
Advertisement

A: Congrats on the extremely flattering picture! Given that your college is tiny, this event is part of the campus culture, and everyone has already seen the viral photo, I don’t think there’s any point to having it taken down. You did the very same thing that many of the classmates you’ll be running to represent did—it sounds like maybe you just looked a little better doing it. And there’s probably no taking that back. I’m convinced that if you move forward with confidence in your platform and emphasize your non-naked accomplishments, you have as good a chance as anyone of winning the election.

How to Get Advice From Prudie:

• Send questions for publication here. (Questions may be edited.)

Advertisement

• Join the live chat Mondays at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the discussion.

Q. Talked over: My wife talks over me a lot. I’m a quieter person in general so sometimes it doesn’t bother me, but other times it’s infuriating; at a lunch recently, she kept answering questions directed at me about my family while I was trying to answer. When I tried to take over politely, she said, “Can I talk?” as though I was interrupting her. She’s a teacher, so I know she is able to listen to people and not interrupt—I’ve seen it! But when it comes to me, she appears to have zero self-awareness.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

This is something we’ve discussed over the years, so she does know it’s a dynamic that bothers me, but it just does not translate into the moment. I’ve sort of accepted this as the cost of doing business, so to speak, so my question is about how to navigate it at the moment—being too direct about taking the conversation back can be awkward around other people, because I don’t want to seem like a bickering couple. Is there a script you can suggest in moments like these?

Advertisement
Advertisement

A: When you’re speaking and she jumps in, just calmly keep talking. You don’t have to say “Please don’t interrupt” or anything else that would create a moment of tension that you would find embarrassing. Just keep talking. If you do decide to let her break in, allow her to finish before interrupting.

Advertisement

But I do think you should continue to talk about this when you’re on your own, because you don’t want to have to go into every social interaction preparing to compete for attention with your own wife. Really let her know how much it bothers you, and give her specific examples—right after the event. And maybe even offer a reminder right before you meet up with friends.

Q. My boss said he loved me: I’ve worked for several years at a company but recently parted on good terms after finding a position somewhere else. My boss has always been kind and supportive. On my last day at work, we went for dinner with several people from the office. He walked me to my car, and, as we were saying goodbye to each other, he confessed that he had been in love with me for a while. He didn’t ask for any response; I think he just felt he had to get it off his chest. I was surprised because he never hinted at any attraction toward me, although he was always thoughtful (remembering my birthday, lending me an umbrella if I forgot mine and had to run an errand for him, etc.).

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

My new job is in another city, but I keep thinking about him. The truth is, I always found him attractive (he’s only a couple of years older than me, single, good looking, funny), and if I had known he was attracted to me, I might not have made this switch. I don’t think it would be wise to give up a new job on the chance I might one day pursue a relationship with a man, but he’s such a sweet, intelligent person. I’m a bit angry he didn’t say anything sooner and angry at myself because I didn’t speak up either. What should I do now?

A: This actually seems like good timing to me—not to give up the new job, but to see what’s there with your former boss. Yes, you’ll be in a different city, but we have phones and email and social media and various means of transportation. Call him and tell him how you feel about him and that you’d like to get to know each other better, long-distance. It reflects well on him that he didn’t speak up and put you in a potentially awkward position while he was in control of your career. Give this a chance.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Q. Dating confusion: I’ve been dating a guy for a few months now and I’m not sure what I want to do. My life is a little up in the air, but it looks like sometime next year, I will be moving for work. I met my guy “John” right after I found out about the possible transfer. We agreed to take things slow. For me, the relationship is great because he works a lot and travels a lot for work, so I don’t have a ton of obligations. The problem is, it’s clear he likes me a lot. He says we’re great together and kind of hints at having a long-term thing, even long-distance.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

I don’t want this. He says he thinks we’re great together. I think we’re good, but not great. He’s sweet and fun, but I don’t think he’s the guy. My question is, is it OK to still date him knowing that we have different feelings about each other and ideas about the future? I could be wrong about my potential feelings for him—I definitely have more feelings now than I thought I would—but there’s really only a small chance that I could start liking him enough to get serious with him. I’d still like to keep dating him until I move, though. What are your thoughts?

A: A few months is not a lot of time, and you two have an agreement to take things slow. You’re in the clear. You are not obligated to respond to hints, or to answer questions he hasn’t asked about your future together. Keep dating. Don’t lie about anything. But also don’t feel guilty. You’re figuring out your feelings for him, which is actually what you should be doing at this point in the relationship.

Advertisement

Q. Trying to be supportive: I am a 60-year-old cisgender gay man. Even though I have not had the opportunity to know many trans/nonbinary people, I am 100 percent dedicated to their rights and fair treatment. Over most of my adult life, I have preferred not to identify by gender. My thinking has always been, “I am what I am, perceive me as you wish.” Recently I’ve become concerned that this perspective either is or could be perceived as not supportive of trans/nonbinary people. Is it OK for me to continue to decline to identify by gender?

A: I think this is totally OK, and my guess is that trans and nonbinary people would probably be some of the biggest cheerleaders for you to identify however you want in peace without having to explain or justify your decision to anyone.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Q. Re: Talked over: I have a soft voice so the “keep talking” advice is difficult for me as I’m often drowned out. What I find helps is a strong and clear physical movement like holding up my index finger or my hand in a stop sign and saying “I got this” when they’re answering a question directed at me or “Just a sec, I haven’t finished.”

A: That’s a good idea. I’m not sure it works in this particular situation, in which it seems the letter writer wants to avoid an obvious confrontation or power struggle in front of others. But it’s definitely something he can try if it feels right.

Q. Re: Trying to be supportive: If I can put the letter writer’s fears to rest—I’m nonbinary, and there’s absolutely nothing offensive or dismissive about not wanting to identify as a gender. Even if you’re cis! People applying their own nuance does nothing but help in the long run, including “I’m cis, but it’s not a strong part of my identity.” And thank you for the support!

Advertisement

A: Thanks for this!

Jenée Desmond-Harris: Thanks, everyone! That’s all we have time for today, but I’ll see you back here next week.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat—I Found My Husband’s List of Every Argument We’ve Had—click here to read it.

Discuss this column on our Facebook page!

From How to Do It

I’m a gay woman in my 30s with a question about masturbation etiquette. Since coming out in my teens, I’ve gone by the rule that masturbating while fantasizing about good friends is a violation of the trust in a friendship, but that other “characters” in my life—a sexy lecturer, hot boss, cute client, etc.—are fair game.

Someone of this ilk from my professional life has, over a couple of years, made the slide into what I’d consider a genuine friend, and in the process my attraction to her has only intensified. She’s been my No. 1 fantasy for longer than I care to admit. Do I need to stop if she’s now my friend?

Advertisement