Stretch Marks. Although there aren’t exactly any uses for stretch marks, these lines that accessorize thighs and arms and bellies are a sign of significant growth in that area. Only recently have stretch marks been something people are told to be concerned about and since then, lines of scar lightening creams and laser treatment have made their way into instagram pages and facebook ads globally. Luckily there are groups of mothers defying society and posting their stretch marks proudly under the title of “Tiger who earned her stripes” but these women are few and making these simple body processes normal is still strongly needed. Like many people I know, when I hit puberty, it hit me like a freight train. All of a sudden my chest was filling out (well, barely, but still) and little purple marks started showing up on the outside of my thighs. At the time I didn’t think anything of it but as I grew older and saw my friends covering theirs up or using special creams to lighten them, I started questioning why it isn’t something I worry about. With that questioning came the worrying and then came the skin lightening research and then came the self hate. If people I deem beautiful are worrying about this sort of stuff, I should be too, right? I started using Bio Oil religiously on the outsides of my thighs and bum every night for years. Seeing some results wasn’t enough and I went as far as looking up local laser treatments who could finally help get rid of these tiny purple scars that gave me more reason to label myself as “unworthy”. Luckily for me, I didn’t have the money to afford treatment. I call myself lucky because this gives me an opportunity to find self love in another place I was against loving. This gives me a chance to apologize to my body. My body does this amazing thing where it grows exponentially in places that need to take up more space and yet in this process, we find a new reason to dislike ourselves. So I say no more! Stretch marks show once again that my beautiful home knows what it’s doing. It shows I am alive and healthy and growing. I will not fall behind in self love when my body is showing that it needs more. I will honour the beautiful decorations my body covers me in as I grow and age and I will defend it against all my negative thoughts from here on out.
Kelly: In essence this is just about the truth of where we are at. How I am feeling about doing something thats a bit risqué or vulnerable? I am feeing quite confident and strong. When we’re children there is such a healthy forum of curiosity and erotisism. Whether it’s through touching or playing make believe or hiding together in a dark closest. There is healthy exhibitionism, where you flaunt your body. You’re ten years old and you’re dancing around naked in front of your family and it’s so normal. But then something happens. So (taking part in this) for me, is just a return home.
I have found that when you’re in your erotic sexy body confidence you get filled with this … it’s like a nectar … it’s like a juice … it’s like a battery life and everything you do is so much more charged, and people can feel that, so it’s like you’re a walking energy source for everyone else as well.
Charlie: Where am I at right now? I am probably playing it down a bit. I am acting pretty cool but in reality … I haven’t given it too much thought and I am looking for a bit of guidance. I probably haven’t had massive body issues in my life … I did used to be a little ‘fat’ and then a few years ago I got a bit ‘skinny’ and there were a few comments here and there but I didn’t really care because I knew I was going towards something else. I guess my intention (for this project) would be to reclaim my body, be in it as much as possible throughout the process and not think so much about “how does this look?” Just try and be like a kid.
Kelly: At the beginning of our relationship I was a little less free in my sexual expression, because I was more self conscious about parts of my body, or being seen fully naked. I feel like now, I definitely still have days where there’s parts of my body I have got a bit of self loathe towards … I feel like some days I look better than others … it’s all a mental thing. But (when it comes to) Charlie and I … I feel really supported, I have never felt judged for my body. He just always compliments, always lovingly caresses.
Very early on we asked each other “what parts of your body do you not like?” and then developed a certain tenderness around them. Like my thighs, I’ve always had a feeling that they’re quite muscular and athletic, maybe a bit bigger than the ‘ideal’ and now Charlie helps me through that. Whether it’s developing soft tickles or touches around them or telling me they’re sexy or loving them in general - kissing them, touching them … it’s really nice. There is a lot of body worship and support in that way. When you’re standing there naked and you can feel the other persons hunger for you and joy and zeal over your body …
Charlie: … I think that’s the biggest thing. With Kelly … if I am standing there naked, she’s loving it. There is no judgement. So I am not actually sure, if I was with someone else, who was maybe like ‘ew’ … I don’t know how that would effect me. I don’t know how strong the belief is that my body is beautiful. I think it’s strong, but maybe thats just because I have the love and support from Kelly.
Do I think my relationship with the female form has changed? I think the main thing is that I now place more importance on appreciating the essence of a person, and that’s where my energy goes to. So there is often very little judgement because I feel that I can see through bodies. Females bodies - I have always had resect for them, but when I was younger and surrounded by heaps of guys talking about it … you can definitely fall into the trap of having conversations like “oh yeah, she’s like a 7 out of 10.” I did that from like 15-18 (years old).
Kelly: In a long term relationship especially, it is so important to celebrate his body and him to celebrate my body. Because it can become so normal, you know, you’ve seen each other naked so many times, it’s like you’re clothed. So if Charlie comes in the room after a shower and drops his towel I stop what I am doing and I’m like “ooo baby!” Or he takes off his top and you’re like “oh yeah” even if you’re not feeling sexual. You just do it because its celebrating the persons body and you know it makes them feel good. I think that’s hugely beneficial.
Charlie: It’s so easy to start negative circles where it’s like - you don’t appreciate them, so they feel bad about themselves, which makes you appreciate them less because they’re shining less.
Kelly: Negative circles like that … I think they stem from a fear of ‘I don’t want this person to grow’. I don’t want them to know how good they are because then maybe they will leave me. I don’t want them to know how sexy they are because maybe that means I’m less sexy. But if you’re like … “you’re fucking sexy” … you give them a platform to shine for you …
Charlie: … And you give yourself a platform to shine as well, because its like … Stand up together!