We wanted to shoot The Stoned Chrysalis product's but it became much more than that.
A group of women with entirely different backgrounds, lived experience and journeys of pleasure were asked to come and model for our brand, the only brief was to come as your most comfortable, authentic self and portray your sexuality as you deemed appropriate. No costumes, no requests for specific outfits or make up, no retouching - just women - together, curated by each other.
I couldn't bare to just do a photo shoot without tapping into the wisdom of the women who would feature in it, believing as I do in the absolute necessity of story telling and the importance of sexual autonomy it seemed the perfect opportunity to create something more than a product shoot - and so The Stoned Chrysalis: Female Gaze has been born.
The reason I began using crystal sex toys was to understand my own body on a deeper level, to know how to orgasm without vibration and to help myself heal from past traumas - these were three points of reference for working with the models in this shoot: Understand each other on a deeper level, learn from each other, heal together through story telling. Each woman is armed with a wealth of knowledge founded on her experience, I believe when we share this with each other we begin to heal ourselves and ultimately the collective consciousness. Through speaking with so many women from around the world the need for healing and empowerment is obvious, while we live in a culture saturated in sex so many of us still struggle to feel pleasure...
It's said that as many as 1 in 3 women have trouble reaching orgasm when having sex and as many as 80 percent of women have difficulty with orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone. There is a strong link between the relationship we have with our bodies and our ability to experience pleasure - How do we feel about our bodies? Do we love their feel, smell and taste? Or do we feel abnormal, ashamed, embarrassed? An American survey found only 7.9 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 29 masturbate two to three times a week whereas 23.4 percent of men do. Whether this is true or a case of women feeling too ashamed to admit to self pleasure we don't know - but both options are disturbing to me. Why are women less likely to seek or admit to pleasure than men?
There is a social expectation that boys and men masturbate - it's a given - but even now in this modern society the same is not so widely accepted for females, times are changing - yes - but I would argue that many girls simply do not know how to masturbate to the point of orgasm, which is totally understandable in a world that teaches us where the clitoris is but not how to use it, a world where most people don't know the difference between the vagina and the vulva.
Sexual education in schools, ridiculous beauty standards and mainstream pornography create a conundrum of misrepresentation - Media hyper sexualises female bodies but discredits women who claim and represent their sexuality in ways that are not perceived as the norm.
As we become women we often stop being naked in front of our female peers and our bodies become comparable to ideals rather than reality- In Sydney, Australia, Labiaplasty (plastic surgery performed to alter the appearance of the inner vaginal lips) is on a steady incline due to women comparing their vulvas to those of women in films and pornography, while film standards require porn stars to have no exposed labia thus perpetuating unrealistic physical standards. I have had customers tell me they were planning to undergo the procedure until we publicly discussed it on social media as they had only seen other vulvas in pornography and thought their own was abnormal.
So how do we change this climate? To me, the answer is ultimately simple; we communicate with each other, we look to each other for openness, experience, support. We share our stories.
During the shoot we discussed each woman's background and their unique experiences with beauty standards, self discovery, love, pleasure and sex.
Alpha - cosmosexual, pansexual, gender fluid, part time polyamorous
Aimee Harris - living with chronic physical and mental health issues
Ayla A- born and raised in Japan with repressive social attitudes toward female pleasure
Fiona L - breaking years of social conditioning regarding beauty standards and sexuality.
Over the coming weeks we will share their stories and the stories of many other women via The Female Gaze.