In an effort to subvert an extortion attempt, comedian and actress Whitney Cummings shared a photo showing her bare nipple on social media.
The photo in question seems to be a screen grab from an Instagram Story featuring Cummings, 36, as she sits in a bath tub and addresses the camera. In a series of tweets, August 14, Cummings explained that exposing her nipple was accidental, but that “foolish dorks” were attempting to use the slip-up, which occurred in April, to get money from her.
“In April I accidentally posted an insta story that showed nipple. Once I realized, I deleted. The people who took screen grabs are trying to get money from me, some said they have offers to sell them, some are asking for money to not post the photo,” she wrote.
But the comedian says she wasn’t about to give in to blackmail.
“They all must think I’m way more famous than I am, but they also must think I’m way more easily intimidated than I am. If anyone is gonna make money or likes off my nipple, it’s gonna be me. So here it all is, you foolish dorks,” she wrote in a second tweet, alongside the photo itself, which shows Cummings in a bathtub with one of her nipples visible.
Cummings’ decision to release the photo herself drew support from fans and other comedians, and spawned the Twitter hashtag, “istandwithwhitney.”
The people responsible for the extortion attempt have not been named, with Cummings explaining in another tweet that she chose not to publicize their information because “some of them might be dumb kids.”
Bert Kreischer posted a close-up photo of his testicles, and wrote: “#IStandWithWhitney Hey @WhitneyCummings I hate what those dorks tried to do to you – here’s an embarrassing picture of my testicles after I fell on a waterslide.”
The image has so far been liked almost 15,000 times and retweeted more than 1,200 times.
Another comedian, Tom Segura, tweeted a graphic photo of his own injured penis and wrote: “Just learned that some real jerks tried to extort my friend @WhitneyCummings with a stolen photo from her phone. Well here’s one of mine. I accidentally put my peepee in a jacuzzi jet but it was a faulty light #IStandWithWhitney”
Others, including comedians Nick Bolton and Shayne Smith, posted their own embarrassing photos to show their support.
In response, Cummings later wrote: “Thank you everyone who sent me embarrassing pictures of yourselves to make me feel better about my embarrassing photo.
“It means the world to me, but I wouldn’t freak out if you stopped sending me photos of your hairy balls.”
Cummings expanded on her decision, writing, “When a woman in the public eye is extorted, we have to spend time, money and energy dealing with it, hiring lawyers and security experts, and living with a pit in our stomach about when and how we will be humiliated. Y’all can have my nipple, but not my time or money anymore.”
In June, 21-year-old actress, model and singer Bella Thorne tweeted nude photos of herself after being hacked, and said that she had reported the hacker to the FBI.
“I can sleep tonight better knowing I took my power back,” she wrote at the time. “Here’s the photos he’s been threatening me with, in other words here’s my boobies.”
Sia, a famously private musician, did the same thing in November 2017 when someone tried to sell nude photos of her online.
She tweeted the photo herself, writing: “Someone is apparently trying to sell naked photos of me to my fans. Save your money, here it is for free. Every day is Christmas!”
And in February this year, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took a similar approach after claiming he was being blackmailed by the owner of a US gossip magazine.
In a blog post, he posted an email he said had been sent to his representatives threatening to publish “intimate photos” of him and former TV host Lauren Sanchez.
Although he didn’t publish the photos himself, the post described in detail what they pictured.
“Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I’ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten,” he wrote.