Last week, while I was brushing my teeth before bed, my phone flashed up with a voice note sent by a close friend. “Rachel!” my friend yelled down the phone with some urgency. “The days of the dick pic are gone. I can’t tell you how many dick GIFs I’m getting.”
The next day, I launched an investigation into whether or not people are *actually* sending “dick GIFs”. What I discovered was this: people are sending Boomeranged solicited nudes to one another.
And it’s not just dick pics. It’s also butt GIFs, boob GIFs, and a veritable buffet of moving nudity. According to the people I’ve spoken to, a nude Boomerang offers something that a pic does not: a flirty bit of movement.
Boomerang — an Instagram owned app — allows you to create “mini-videos” by capturing 10 photos and sticking them together to create a looping GIF. You can use the app to create Boomerangs without sharing them publicly and you can save them to your phone and send them via a messaging app.
Ann (not her real name), who works as an editor, told me she started making nudes on Boomerang — Instagram’s app which lets you make “mini videos that loop back and forth” — about a year ago. Ann says she feels that Boomeranged butt GIFs are “like the flirty wink of nudes.”
“Most of my nudes focus on my butt and the light/mirror situation in my apartment isn’t great, so I was trying to figure out how to take better ones using the front facing camera,” says Ann. She tried taking a photo by lying on her stomach and taking a pic of her butt over her shoulder.
“I was struggling a bit to capture the thiccness of my butt because it looked flat.”
“I was struggling a bit to capture the thiccness of my butt because it looked flat,” Ann continues. “And then somewhere along the line — trial and error! — I realised I could do a boomerang to get some motion.”
She likes Boomerang nudes because they feel “a bit more playful” and fun. “I would feel like an absolute cornball ever taking a video, so Boomerang is like the perfect middle ground,” says Ann. “They’re only like, what, five seconds long at most? So there’s not really pressure to nail a move or anything like that — you can just do something cute and silly.”
A writer who’d prefer to remain anonymous says she’s had nude GIFs made of her consensually.
“I’m not a big fan of videos being made of me because I think with sound and everything it can get really identifiable,” she says. “But GIFs seem really fun and catch something sexy and short.”
She says one of her current sexual partners has, with her consent, used Boomerang to capture “little moments” during sex. “I’m into kink and he has made GIFs of me being hit on the ass with a flogger, for example. Or a moment during sex.
“I’ve sent them on to others instead of nudes,” she adds. “Like, you can’t see my face and people are always really into it.”
I ask what the appeal of sending a gif is over, say, sending a still image. “I think it feels more real in some way too, because of the short movement,” she says. “It’s like you’re in the room a bit more.”
While Boomerang is being used for solicited and consensual nudes, it’s perhaps unsurprising that people are also sending unsolicited Boomeranged nudes.
Erin, who’d prefer to be identified by her first name only, says she received a Boomeranged gif of a penis after going on a date with a guy. “I’ve had some guy send me a helicopter dick Boomerang once and needless to say there was not another date. Fucking gross,” she tells me. “Helicopter dick alone is terrifying.” (Just as an FYI, the term “helicopter dick” is defined by Urban Dictionary as “a sexual display wherein a male gyrates his pelvis so that his flaccid penis whirls in a radial manner like the blades of a helicopter.”)
“Is anyone ever ready for a helicopter dick Boomerang nude?”
Erin says they had started to get “a little sexy” during texting, but “not so much that I was 100 percent helicopter dick nude.”
“But is anyone ever ready for a helicopter dick Boomerang nude?” she asks. Good question.
She replied to the dick gif saying “WTF” and the sender then accused her of “killing the mood.”
“But seriously — how am I the one that killed the mood?” she muses.
If you’re sharing nude Boomerangs with a consenting partner, there are a few things to bear in mind. Instagram — which owns Boomerang — has a strict policy on the sharing of nude or sexual content. That rule applies to content showing sexual intercourse, genitals, and close-ups of fully naked buttocks. The policy also applies to some photos of women’s nipples — with the exception of photos showing post-mastectomy scarring, active breastfeeding, or images of breasts where the nipples are censored by blurring or pixelation. So, sharing your nude Boomerangs to your Instagram Stories or grids would be in breach of Instagram’s policies.
In this day and age, it often feels like no app is immune from hacks and data breaches. As with any app that’s used to create images or videos, it’s important to think about your own digital safety and privacy.
Stay safe out there.