If you google me, you'll find a photo of me in my underwear on Me in My Place, a website and phone app collecting pictures of scantily clad girls at their homes. Some people might question my decision to model for the site, but I'm both a fan of the site and comfortable in my underwear—obviously, I also love the attention. Recently, I posed a second time for Me in My Place to show off my new tattoos and apartment. After the shoot, I ate lunch with the site's founder, Michael Edwards, and spoke to him about how his wife feels about the site and why our culture should loosen up about nudity.
VICE: How did you come up with the concept for Me In My Place?
Michael Edwards: About three and a half years ago, I had hopped on the blog bandwagon and started a personal blog of my photography—it was mostly portrait work. One day at a park, I was taking pictures of someone flying a kite, and there was some girl also taking pictures. I asked her if I could take her photo one day, and she said, “Yes.” We scheduled it for two weeks later at her apartment. I wasn't sure what to expect, but we started shooting, and she soon became comfortable enough to jump around in her underwear. One photo of her bum in red polka dot underwear got 1,000 likes almost immediately, and I had a feeling I was onto something.
You are married with a young daughter. How does your wife feel about your website?
She has come around to it. She likes bad boys—not to mention the app generates income. She was upset at first, partially because I was running it for a while without her knowledge.
How did she find out?
I was on vacation at the Jersey Shore, and I got a text from a male friend, and he said, “What's up with this website?” I had told a few people, and word must have spread, but I had no intention of telling her yet—I suppose I wanted it to be on my terms. A few days later, I was at a tech shop getting my computer fixed, and I got a call from my friend's wife, and she was pissed. She said, “You have to tell your wife about this, and if you don't tell her, I will.” I had to tell her, because the cat was out of the bag, but I also felt like I hadn't done anything wrong other than sneak around and take pictures of people in their underwear.
How did she react when you told her?
She felt like I was being dishonest. I wanted to do something with some autonomy. I knew I was taking a risk—it wasn't like I was playing tennis or something—but I wasn't really doing anything wrong. I was just taking pictures.
What does your ten-year-old daughter think of your job?
She thinks it's “icky.”
During our shoot, you told me that curvier girls are more popular with viewers. Do you think your site departs from traditional standards of beauty?
Curvier girls are very, very popular. A lot of men relate to the women who are a bit curvier, because perhaps they associate them with real women or past or current girlfriends. On the app, the most liked model is Candice. In much of our culture, women are expected to be thin. By sharing images of real women in their real homes—and the incredible responses they get from the viewers—I'd like to think Me In My Place has helped celebrate curvier women.
What is the different between the blog and the app?
The app has a little bit of tasteful nudity, where the site doesn't. The app gives you a chance to view 200 to 300 images of a girl, where I only post 20 to 30 pictures on the site. It costs $17 a year. It's been very successful—a lot of people love being able to support something they love online. I'm currently developing a whole new platform called Findrow, and in about two months, Me in My Place will have a whole new look and feel.
How do you react to people who call the site sexist?
There's this presumption that nude is bad. It's a celebration of half-naked women. It is possible people are offended by it, but that's not the end of the world. I don't think it's sexist—I think it is natural for men to look at women, and my site is a positive reflection of that impulse. It is about getting girls in a space where they feel really confident. It feels good to get random strangers I've never met in a space where they feel beautiful—that's been really great.