It’s 2020, and for some reason, female sexuality is still a highly taboo topic in many circles. Sure, you talk to your friends about it and read about it in magazines, but it’s not like we’re seeing photos of random women orgasming all across the Internet — until now, that is.
Photographer Marcos Alberti, who gained fame recently for his “3 Glasses Later” project, in which he photographed people after one, two, and three glasses of wine, recently started “The O Project,” in which he photographs women before, during, and after orgasms. In nearly all of the photos, which you can scroll through on Alberti’s website, the women look happier, more relaxed, and, in many cases, a little more red-cheeked in their final pictures than in their first, pre-orgasm ones. (Obviously.)
So far, Alberti has photographed 22 women from all around the world and of all different ages for the project. “The women span all ethnicities and nationalities, coming from seemingly more sexually liberated countries, such as the USA and France, to more conservative communities like China and Singapore,” Alberti’s website reads. “The underlying message: All women deserve to be in control of their sexuality, no matter their background. Women should be free to be empowered by — and have a little fun with — their sexuality.” To recruit the women, Alberti teamed up with sex toy brand Smile Makers, which posted a callout on its Facebook page, according to Refinery29.
In a behind-the-scenes video Alberti posted this week, he and Fan Yang, Smile Makers’ global brand manager, discuss the project’s empowering mission. “It’s such a positive way to talk about a very taboo topic, and that’s exactly what sexual well-being is about. That’s what we intended to do, to talk about a stigmatized topic in a lighthearted way,” Yang said. “We wanted to find a way to start and initiate this conversation in a normal and even fun way for women across the globe.”
The video also shed light on Alberti’s process. For each woman, the project starts outside of the studio, away from the camera. “It was very important to me to get to know them, spend time with them, to make them comfortable, to trust me as a photographer,” he said. Once inside the studio, he explains every aspect of the project to the women. One at a time, they’re seated, with a tablecloth-topped table covering them from the waist down, surrounded by tall black sheets with just a small hole for Alberti’s camera to peek through. They’re then free to let loose and use Smile Makers sex toys to orgasm, with Alberti offering only minimal directions in order to capture the best possible photographs.
As Alberti noted in the video, “The project is not to be perfect, these kinds of imperfections — not imperfections, but it’s a natural movement — it shows the naturality of the movement.” Yang added, “We really hope more and more girls will be able to see what we are doing. We want them to be a part of the discussion and try to do the changes together.”
According to HuffPost UK, the project’s participants, understandably, come out of their photo sessions feeling pretty great about themselves and their sexuality. “Excited doesn’t even cut it,” a participant named Cassie told the outlet. “I’m thrilled and I am empowered. We are sending the message to women everywhere that this is not a shameful secret. This is real, it is raw and it is beautiful.” Another participant named Camille agreed. “Taking part in this project was great, because the message behind it is to let every woman know their sexuality is not a taboo and that enjoying a full sexual life is a good start. Women should not be afraid about taking pleasure. It can bring happiness, well-being, it’s an important part of everyone’s life,” she said. “I’m happy I did it, because it was quite a challenge for me, and I feel myself more entitled to explore my own sexuality.”