“Mainstream pornography is a big reason I started Aurore. I wanted a space to go to get turned on where there was no danger of stumbling upon something you didn’t want to see. On go-to sites like PornHub, you are constantly being served visuals that can kill the mood. Why are there so many sites that show women being degraded, or body types we can’t relate to, or sex acts that are clearly geared toward the male gaze? Porn is not representative. And when it gets down to, really specifically, genital representation, it freaks me out how many women think their vulvas are ugly. That is so upsetting. To think this intimate and powerful body part should be a cookie cutter of what you see in porn, or what is deemed as “ideal” is ridiculous. Porn should be helping us focus on how we can get pleasure from our bodies, not making us obsess over how our bodies look! Really young women see it and think they have to look that way and act that way, and young men develop expectations for women to look and act a certain way because of it. Like, fuck. It affects all of us. I’m not saying all porn is bad, I’m saying porn needs to be more honest and representative. The act of reading porn feels more measured, an experience that is ownable, that allows you to create the visuals in your imagination. That’s why I wanted to start Aurore.
Carly wears the Plunge in Black.
Developing breasts really young definitely informed who I became: someone who is comfortable with owning my sexuality. 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 informed my desire to reclaim the words I was labeled. Even become them — but on my own terms.
It’s interesting to me that so many people feel 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 sucks. I’m more interesting than that. But also, 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. But 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 about my breasts, 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 invasive to publicly bring attention to these things. You need to inquire with a light touch. 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 flaws first, you should take account of how you’re thinking of and looking at yourself.
Carly wears the Bikini in Black.
Some days I look in the mirror and I’m like, ‘I look good.’ And some days I don’t feel like myself — there is a disconnect. Sometimes you see different things. Maybe it’s about my mood and how I’m feeling in a particular moment. 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. It’s a bit frightening. Because of my boobs I often feel 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.’ It is tough, for me, going braless is a statement. But I know everybody compares their bodies to more desirable bodies. 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, I don’t feel good. I’ve dealt with it by learning more and more to dress for my body type. And thankfully more and more cool brands are designing for different bodies!
Another thing I do is when I’m walking out the door every day — I try to walk with confidence, even if I don’t feel that way. I manifest. When I’ve told people in the past that I’m insecure and shy, they often act surprised. I must be doing a really good job of tricking everyone! I wish we could all be more understanding that just because people act like they’re fine, they might not be, and not force each other to always be on or always faking it. Yesterday at the cafe I went to, the barista asked me how I was doing, and I was like, ‘Actually, I’m not great, I’m having a tough day, I’m stressed.’ We talked a little, and he shared how he was doing. It was a real conversation, and after, I thanked him for making me stop for a minute and think about stuff. We shared truths with each other. Honesty is good — it gives us the opportunity to build each other up.
Lately I’ve been asking women to write about masturbation and self love for Aurore. I don't know if this is too risqué for the interview, but I have done this since I was really young — I masturbate in front of a mirror. It sounds narcissistic in the immediate, but I think it’s a powerful exercise to watch yourself give yourself pleasure. In erotica, there is a lot of writing about the other person’s body or how they’re viewing your body, but taking ownership and reflecting and appreciating your own body is real. Another reason why non-fiction erotica is better than fiction!
Women are much more accepting and even desirous of the atypical, imperfect body in a man. ‘Dad bod.’ The dad aspect is complicated and a lot to unpack, but more generally, why do so many women prefer men to be imperfect while men seem to have an expectation for women to be an impossible ideal? Do men like women with ‘mom bod’? What is that even? 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? Maybe it’s a 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’s the wrong way to go. Let’s talk about this in a few years. [Laughs]
In our current culture, it’s important to consider that sex can still be meaningful. You can actually try to get intimate with people and make it special and make it important, even if it is casual. There’s a lot of encouragement to own your sexuality and sleep around, but if that doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. I talk to a lot of people who feel hurt, often, when someone they’re casually hooking up with doesn’t live up to expectations that haven’t been established. It seems like more of us than admit it just want love. I’ve felt the best about my body when I’m in a really healthy sexual relationship. By healthy I mean, having a lot of sex. There is something about sex that validates your body because it’s so physical. It’s the best form of exercise, and perhaps the only one I believe in? [Laughs]
I got a submission for Aurore over the weekend from a 60-something-year-old woman, about how she went on a senior dating site and met a man who asked her to show up to the date not wearing underwear. 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. But we don’t talk about it. And why not? I think it’s so important to have a game plan for how you will age sexually. In relationships and not. How do you combat boredom? What does internet dating look like when you’re 50+?
The question of sexuality on social media is complicated. We just missed the generation that’s like, fuck all. They seem really fun — Gen Z kids are gonna have a lot of fun without us and we’re going to be these old people with our nipples covered. Shooting photos for Aurore has been really inspiring. Getting naked and creating art with friends has helped me feel really comfortable in my body. So of course, on social media, I think anyone should be allowed to show whatever they want if they want. I’ve been known to post a provocative picture every now and then. It’s kinda my brand. I’ve taken it a few steps further than usual recently, and I have to admit, it’s incredibly thrilling and empowering. And then the thrill wears off and it’s just like eh, it’s a body, it’s art, it’s not a big deal. But I question my motives still. What am I hoping to gain, if anything? Am I making a worthy statement? Why are we so precious with naked bodies, and then also, why wouldn’t we be?
Carly wears the Bikini in Black.
People have always 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] When we talk to our friends about sex, 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… That’s another reason I wanted to start Aurore. Aurore’s stories are focused on the intimacy and the personal connections you have with people. The actual, physical meeting in sex and the emotions that propel you. I don't know why we want to harp on the negative so much in sex and dating, 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.
Tags: bodytalk , sensuality