Carly Pifer Wants To Change The Way We Talk About Sex

Carly Pifer Wants To Change The Way We Talk About Sex

“Pornography is a big reason I started Aurore. I felt that a lot of times the go-to is a PornHub type site, where you constantly see things that make you feel really turned off and not in the mood anymore. Why are there so many sites that show women being degraded, or things we can’t relate to body type-wise, or sexual preference-wise? Visually, it’s hard. It’s not representative. And I think when it gets down to, really specifically, genital representation, it freaks me out how many women think their vaginas are ugly. That is so sad and upsetting. Because first of all that’s not true, everyone is different. And to think this intimate and powerful body part should be a cookie cutter of what you see in porn is ridiculous. I think that can be really damaging. And porn is so pervasive now that really young women are seeing that and thinking there is something wrong with them, and the expectations men have for women to look a certain way because of it. Like, fuck. It affects all of us. That’s why I wanted to start Aurore. 

Carly wears the Plunge in Black

Developing boobs really young definitely informed who I became: someone who is comfortable with owning my sexuality. Because in a lot of ways, I was forced to. I was looked at as a sexual object from a very young age. Just having boobs at a young age made it so I was labeled as a ‘slut’ before I had even interacted with boys. That definitely informed my desire to reclaim the words I was labeled. Even become them — on my own terms. I definitely had a movement of being totally sexually free and sleeping around and not caring. It was definitely difficult, though. Having boobs made me uncomfortable. Now, it’s interesting to me that everyone feels that it’s appropriate to comment on my body. Strangers and even friends, or new friends. The first thing people notice about me is my boobs, which kind of sucks. I’m more interesting than that. But also, it’s like yeah, I have huge boobs and they’re beautiful and awesome. There are days when I want to flaunt my boobs and I want attention for them. ‘Hello, look at me!’ [Laughs] But the truth is that there is a time and a place. Being able to choose is important. 

I wish I had a better answer than this, but when people make comments, most of the time, I laugh it off. Causing a big ordeal or trying to impart a lesson on somebody isn’t worth it. I know when friends do it they do it with love or affection of some kind. But humans are so silly. We look at somebody and one thing is a little bit out of the ordinary and it’s like, ‘Oh, let me name this thing.’ Why can’t we quietly absorb the differences in each other? Why do we have to point out flaws or things that look weird or different to us? I’ve never been the type of person to see someone with a birthmark or scar and be like, ‘Oh what’s that?’ These stories are personal and your body is yours, so it feels kind of invasive to do that. I think it’s evidence of the fact that how we look at ourselves is how we look at other people. When you’re seeing those flaws first, you have to take account of how you’re thinking of yourself at those times, too.

Carly wears the Bikini in Black. 

Some days I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘I look so hot.’ And some days I don’t feel like myself — there is a disconnect. Sometimes you see different things. That kind of sounds like body dysmorphia. Maybe it’s about my mood and how I’m feeling in a particular moment. But I find it interesting that you can look at a person and see different things based on some unknown factor. I think that my relationship with my body has changed, especially as I’m getting a little bit older, I see my body really changing in front of me. That’s really interesting, and a bit frightening. Because of my boobs I often feel not a hateful jealousy, but a genuine jealousy that I can’t wear a backless dress, I can’t wear spaghetti straps. I just want to go braless and be free. And there have been times where I’ve just been like, ‘fuck it.’ Lately I’m moving more towards letting them hang where they are. But it is tough, and I think anybody who says they don’t compare themselves to others or want things other people have body-wise, that’s not true for anybody. We all want something to be a little bit different than it is or a little bit better. When something doesn’t fit, for example, you don’t feel good. I’ve dealt with it by learning more and more to dress for my body type.

Another thing I do is when I’m walking out the door every day — I try to walk with confidence, have a look of confidence. It’s a ‘fake it ‘till you make it’ type of thing. If I’m telling myself I look good, I’m having a good day, then it’s more likely to happen. If I can manifest that, I think it is successful. When I’ve told people in the past, ‘I’m insecure,’ or ‘I’m shy,’ everyone is really surprised. It’s like ‘Wow, I must be doing a really good job of tricking everyone.’ [Laughs] I think that there is such a need for all of us to be more understanding of all those things and not force each other to be always on or always faking it. Yesterday at the cafe I went to, I was like, ‘Hi, how are you?’ and the guy there was like, ‘I’m OK… how are you?’ And I was like, ‘Actually, I’m not great, I’m having a tough day, I’m stressed.’ Afterward I was like, thank you for making me stop for a minute and think about how I really am. We just shared truths with each other. That’s why honesty is good — it gives us the opportunity to build each other up. 

One thing I’ve been asking women to do lately for the site is to write about masturbation and self love. I don't know if this is too risqué, but I have done this since I was really young — I masturbate in front of a mirror. It sounds a little bit vain or narcissistic in the immediate, but I think it’s a powerful experience to watch yourself give yourself pleasure and to appreciate your own body. The mirror gives you that opportunity — it’s this really magical experience and it's super empowering. I want people to write about that experience. Because in erotica, there is a lot of writing about the other person’s body or how they’re viewing your body back, but taking ownership over that could be really cool. 

I would argue that women are much more accepting and even desirous of the atypical, imperfect body in a man. ‘Dad bod.’ That’s complicated and a lot to unpack probably, but why do women prefer men to be imperfect when men seem to have an expectation for women to be an ideal? Do men like women with ‘mom bod’? Saggy boobs? And why are our standards for men so much more easy going than their standards for us? Shouldn’t we hold them to the same expectations they hold us to? Or is it this desire to be with somebody that doesn’t make you feel like you need to be perfect? I feel that. I just want to date somebody smart. I don’t care how they look. I want entertainment and good conversation. All these people that are worried about how people look when they’re dating, I’m like, that is really the wrong way to go. Let’s talk about this in a few years. [Laughs] I think in this day and age, it’s also important to recognize that to a lot of people, sex is meaningful, and you don’t have to have a bunch of sexual partners you don’t care about. You can actually try to get intimate with one person and make it special and make it important. 

I got a submission for Aurore over the weekend from a 77-year-old woman, and it’s about how she went on this senior dating site and met this guy who asked her to show up to the date not wearing underwear. And I’m so excited about the story, because it shows that sexuality does not go away [with age]. Women are still sexual creatures that want to fuck. And want to have fun. People in nursing homes have a ton of sex — there are always STDs going around. But we don’t talk about it. And why not? I think it’s so important to have almost a game plan for how you age sexually. In relationships and not. But I think some of the times I’ve felt the best about my body have been when I’m in a really healthy sexual relationship. There is something about sex that validates your body because it’s so physical. Like the best form of exercise, perhaps the only one I believe in? [Laughs] 

The question of sexuality on social media is a complicated question because it’s a problem with society that parts of our bodies are sexualized to a point where we have to keep them hidden. But at the same time, do we want to sacrifice our boobs as sex objects, in a sense? I don’t know how that works. It’s so ingrained in our society that it kind of boggles my mind how much it would need to change in order to view boobs as non sexual. Even I sexualize boobs. There is still a modesty imposed on that, and I think it’s in all of us. We just missed the generation that’s like, fuck all. That seems really fun — it seems like people are gonna have a lot of fun without us and we’re going to be these old people with our nipples covered. [Laughs] I think sometimes, if I had smaller boobs, would I feel differently? I might be more inclined to just bare all because it wouldn’t feel as extreme. I think anyone should be allowed to show that if they want. But when you put up a revealing picture, sometimes it’s like, what are you after? I will put up pictures like that sometimes too, but I have to question, yeah why am I doing that? Why do I feel inclined to get people’s attention in that way? It does seem like it’s probably suggesting a bad thing rather than a positive thing. Perhaps people really do feel good getting that attention, I don’t know. It’s very short-lived for me, personally. 

Carly wears the Bikini in Black

People have always kind of come to me for dating or sex advice, which is funny because I’m not great at dating. But, you can give good advice and not follow it. [Laughs] But another reason I wanted to create Aurore is because when we report about sex to our friends, it seems like we’re always focused on the negatives. Like, this weird thing happened, or he wasn’t big enough, or there was a weird smell… these are real things I’ve heard lately. Aurore’s stories are focused on the intimacy and the personal connections you have with these people. The actual, physical meeting in sex. I don't know why we want to harp on the negative so much in sex and dating, but it seems like the wrong way to be doing things. Because you get in a mindset. I want to help change that.”

You can contribute to Aurore's Kickstarter here. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Interview by Anna Jube. Styled by Emily Newnam

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