The Nu Project by Matt Blum and Kate Kessler is a digital photography Internet-based series that that relies on volunteer non-model participation to represent “honest” nude female bodies. The mission of the project is to feature “the subjects and their personalities, spaces, insecurities and quirks.” Prospective participants learn about the project from social networks and by word of mouth and invite the team to shoot them in their homes. There is no pre-screening process. On the website’s testimonials page, many women talk about the empowering effect of volunteering to pose nude, commenting on the newly found self-esteem and appreciation for their bodies. With its insistence on featuring “honest” portraits without make-up and in poses that do not resemble those found in standard beauty shots, The Nu Project fits with the larger tendency of participatory digital cultures to promote the image of a “natural” body and its liberated desires, contesting the mainstream objectified ideal of beauty. The popularity of the series certainly encourages reflections on the power of new media to re-conceptualize public engagement with and control over representations of the body. Unprecedented in their potential outreach, digital spaces create an alternative venue to question and shape cultural values. Democratized production of art and knowledge through social media allows women to engage in a grassroots movement of sorts, assuming agency in self-representation. However, the performative aspect of the series raises intriguing questions which complicate the one-dimensional assessment of volunteer nudity (without necessarily challenging the empowerment that the project creates). What statements might these images be making? A defiant challenge to the mainstream beauty ideal? A plea for validation? A testimonial of embodied trauma? The embodied histories captured in these shots are much more diverse and multidimensional than commercial beauty shots would allow for. Furthermore, there is the lingering presence of the photographer’s – and the public’s – gaze that the models look acutely aware of. While the artists intend to create a light-hearted, humorous, and comfortable atmosphere, the aura of the images is much more complicated. Shot in privacy of their homes, these women are at once comfortable and extremely vulnerable, a paradox to be expected given the collation of private spaces and the publicity of the Internet exposure. Often, women in the photos hide their faces (slides 3, 4, 6) or otherwise assume a defensive pose (slide 4 especially). Nudity almost looks like a necessary measure to make a statement.