Special Spot

Text & photos by
Bea Scharf-Pierzchala
I was thirteen & sitting on the lakeside beach at my old camp the day I first noticed it. My friend, a tall-for-her-age, long-legged, flat-stomached teen lay next to me in the sun. Sand stuck to her skin and sun lotion glistening. There it was: a navel so perfect I felt a sudden urge to lick the thing. I couldn’t help but stare.

Slouching in the sand, I looked down at my cotton tee transparent from wetness. In that moment I realized it. Mine had changed too. My kid potbelly no more. What I once left hanging out for the world to see now felt like one of my most intimate parts. A tiny, soft, fleshy button seen only by a select few.

I began this project at a time when I felt truly starved for intimacy. The hilarity that has come from asking to photograph people’s belly buttons is immeasurable. When I announce my mission, mostly people laugh, but when a friend or acquaintance accepts I cannot help but feel special. The unanticipated honour of being allowed so close to such a private, unique, and silly part of the body. There is a quiet shared excitement – like they are letting me in on a secret – and a nervousness that comes before the realization that we are just two people standing very still, my breath probably detectable on their stomach, maybe giggling as I adjust the light. Because I am photographing their fucking belly button.

Belly buttons in order of appearance: Ian, Thomas, Em
Rat Chat Magazine