Alternative model. Kinkster. Survivor.
Luca van der Zwaan of Amsterdam, speaks candidly about beauty standards, trauma, intimacy, and sex.
TRIGGER WARNNG Self-harm, and sexual assault are discussed openly below. If you are sensitive to these topics click away now.
K: How has embracing your own sexual identity made you more empathetic and compassionate person?
L: I think when you spend a lot of time thinking about taboo’s and how society is just based on shaming and putting people down for their sexuality, it makes us think about other things as well. I think people base they perceptions of “good” and “bad” too much on what other people say, and we don’t really think for ourselves anymore. And only the odd ones out, no matter whether it’s because of our sexual desires or because of something else, will realize how flawed the system is. When I go to fetish parties I meet all these awesome people, who’re all so accepting of differences and that makes me so happy.
K: When do you feel the most liberated while having sex? What is involved?
L: I personally feel very liberated when there’s this feeling of trust that goes so far that I can just let everything go and know the other person won’t cross my boundaries. I am submissive, so having the other person take charge is what I want, but I also don’t want to feel the fear of being hurt against my will. When you are able to let go of control without being scared, and completely surrender yourself, that to me is what makes sex liberating
K: Have you ever felt ashamed of your sexual desires?
L: Yes, I sure have. I am very open about sexuality now, but when I was younger I really wasn’t. My first experience with sex was very bad, I was sexually assaulted when I was 13. So I felt a lot of guilt and shame for anything sex-related. I’ve been through a lot of phases from over-pleasing sexually in search of my boundaries, to plain being scared of sex. Especially being submissive, I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously because they’d think it’s just because of my trauma’s. But I now realize it’s just my sexual preference. I like to let go of control, and I think whether that stems from my sexual history or that’s just the way I am, it’s still valid, it doesn’t matter.
K: What is intimacy and what it means to you?
L: I think intimacy doesn’t really have anything to do with sex at all. I mean it can be combined but it’s not initially connected to one-another. Intimacy to me is feeling so safe around someone that you’re more yourself with them around than when you’re alone. It’s when you open up to someone in such a way that you show all of your vulnerabilities without feeling vulnerable.
K: What are some things you have had to unlearn or let go of to have more fulfilling sex?
L: On one hand, I really like pleasing, I love to make someone feel good and doing what they want me to do is just such a fulfilling sexual pleasure to me. But I’ve also learned that there’s a difference between abuse and a BDSM dynamic. There are boundaries which the dominant should respect. And I’m allowed to enjoy sex too, it’s not only about giving.
K: What do you value most when choosing a sex partner: security, chemistry, honesty?
L: It’s usually chemistry, to be honest, but in order to completely enjoy myself there sure has to be a sense of security too. Especially because of my past, but I think in general people want to feel a little safe when they’re tied to a bed with chains and they’re wearing a blindfold.
K: What word, a combination of words, or phrase positively triggers your sex urges? In what context?
L: “baby girl”, “princess” and all that ddlg related stuff. If someone says “does my little princess want to be spoiled by daddy tonight?” or something like that, I swear the Niagra falls just relocates into my panties.
K: What are your hard limits?
L: Well, I really need a safe word, and people absolutely need to respect that. So r*pe play and stuff really aren’t for me. Also, I’m not really into golden or brown showers. And a big one: I like a bit of verbal degradation but there’s a limit, so that’s where the safe word comes into play (no pun intended) again.
K: What inspired you to pursue modeling. Do you identify with having an exhibitionist side?
L: I was asked by someone I met at a festival if I could model for her, she is a VJ, so she needed me to do moving images. I really liked it and she told me I’m a natural in front of the lens. She took me to this fetish party and it was a really weird experience to see half naked me dancing around on this big screen in the middle of the club. And at that party, I met my next photographer. And from there it just kept rolling…
I don’t really identify as an exhibitionist, but I guess I just am an open person? People often question like “omg what if someone from your family sees it” I’m like, they probably already know about it and yea most of them have seen my pictures. And I honestly don’t care. Sexuality is not something you should be ashamed of. It’s okay to show that you’re a sexual person. You don’t have to, but you can, it doesn’t take away anything from your personal “value”, even though girls are often taught so.
K: You do not edit out your scars in your shoots. What gave you the courage to bare it all?
L: It’s just part of who I am, I am not proud of my scars, but over time I’ve learned that I shouldn’t be ashamed of them either. And most of the photographers I work with like me for my individuality anyways. I’m not your typical high-fash-skinny-legs type of model. I have flaws, and that’s what makes me special, that’s why most photographers want to shoot with me, and I think that also helped in accepting that my scars don’t take away my beauty. But in real life I also show my scars, I often wear short sleeves and skirts. I feel like editing out my scars in pictures would be like deleting my history and denying a big part of who I am.
K: What first shaped your beauty standards? How have they changed over time?
L: Like most teens, I’ve been pretty damn insecure about myself from when I was about 12 to 16. I have a very “strong” face, with a big nose and jet black eyebrows and that’s pretty far from what I saw in the magazines. I was also bullied, and I often compared myself to the popular girls, and I always felt ugly. Somehow my nose just grew before the rest of my face so it wasn’t really in proportion. I have two moms, they’re lesbian, and they’ve never really cared about conventional beauty standards, and they always encouraged me to just wear whatever is comfortable. So when I went to high school, little tomboy me realized that the way you present yourself can be a real status thing. So I started overcompensating for my “ugliness” by wearing makeup and clothes which I thought would make me blend in. It was only when I went to college when that changed. I study at a college for “creative entrepreneurs” so there’s quite a few weirdo’s walking around, and I really admired them for dressing and being who they wanted to be. So I slowly started to build my own style and with that also my self-confidence.
K: Consensual non-consent is a very controversial subject. As someone that identifies as a submissive, what is your opinion about that practice?
L: Let’s just say it’s not for me. I am okay with other people doing it, but it really doesn’t work for me. I need to feel secure and safe, so for me stop really means stop. I understand how it makes your playtime a lot more exciting, for both the dominant and the submissive. But since I have sex-related PTSD it’s really not a smart or safe idea for me personally.
K: Do you incorporate the D/s dynamic into your vanilla life or is that only for sex play?
L: Not really. I mean my boyfriend does take care of me in a way that sometimes lingers slightly towards the dd/lg lifestyle, and I often call him daddy, but that’s usually just when I want his attention in a flirty way. I mean I am a very playful and perhaps a little bit of a childish person when I’m around him, it just feels natural to me, and he kind of feels like a caretaker sometimes. But we never call it a dd/lg relationship.
K: We have family members that battled with self-harm. What has helped keep you from relapsing?
L: Well, I’m almost 4 months clean now, so that really isn’t a long time. I’ve been cutting since I was 14, and I now am 19 so that’s a pretty long time. And I’ve stopped a few times, but I always relapsed, and it was always even worse after. I think it’s because I always stopped for other people. My moms found out, my therapist told me to or I was on a holiday and I couldn’t discreetly hide it. This is the first time that I want to stop myself. And somehow it just feels different, I still have the urge to do it, but I feel stronger now because I KNOW I can battle it. I want to battle it. And I used to HAVE to battle it. And that’s a big difference.
K: How has having these scars impacted your self-image and your sexuality?
L: I’m not going to use surgery to remove my scars, there’s just too many. I’ve always wanted tattoos, so I’m just going to cover all of my scars in tattoos! As much as I’d like to say my scars don’t impact me that much, they do. Not because I’m scared of the way other people would perceive me, I’m over that. But to me, they just feel like permanent little marks of bad memories. From a lot of them, I can still remember what happened that made me so upset or how I felt in that moment. So when I’m in the shower looking down at all these pink and white tiger stripes I often get overwhelmed. I don’t want to look at my body and be sad. I don’t want to see my skin and think back about bad experiences and traumatic events. I want to be able to celebrate my body in full glory and be happy when I look in the mirror. And I think covering my scars with beautiful tattoos would be a way to close a chapter in my life and move on, with a beautifully embellished skin.
K: What was the defining moment when you realized that you were into the Dominance / submission power dynamic?
L: I don’t think there’s one specific moment or time when I realized it. I mean at one point I sure noticed a pattern in the type of porn I got off to haha. But my first actual experience was with a guy I met on tinder. I think I kinda made it seem I had a little bit more experience with BDSM than I actually had. But I have no regrets, we had a great time and he really made sure I was okay all the time and made me feel comfortable all along. We’re still friends today. Experiencing it really confirmed to me that this is what I’m into. Vanilla sex just doesn’t do it for me, I wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy myself, but as soon as someone pushes my head into the mattress and holds me by my neck I’m in heaven.
K: What do sex and submission mean to you? How do you define your role in that power exchange dynamic?
L: I’m kind of a bratty sub. I present myself to be rather dominant because I’m kind of a dominant personality in a way. I am very present and I know what I want. But to me, nothing is more exciting than someone putting me in my place and being even more dominant than me. I think my “intimidating” appearance and behavior is kind of a way to tease my partner. Some submissives are really into always behaving like a little angel and being perfect towards their dom, But I like to be a little brat so my dom has to grab me by the neck and shout in my face what I’m supposed to do to make up for it.
K: Do you enjoy having your scars caressed, touched, etc?
L: My first experience with people being attracted to my scars was really weird to me, I was taught that it was ugly and bad so when someone compliments me on it it feels kind of weird. And also people in the fetish scene often assume I’m a masochist and cutting is some kind of masturbation for me. I don’t really feel comfortable with strangers touching my scars, unless they ask nicely. But I’m okay with a romantic partner caressing them, but only if it’s in a loving way. If I feel like someone fetishizes my scars it makes me feel kind of uncomfortable because they weren’t born out of a place of lust or pleasure, but pain.
Read Luca’s musings on her blog at www.nosferatunecromancer.com
Follow Luca’s journey on Instagram at @silence.my.mind.jpg.
Support Luca’s Go Fund Me campaign to cover her self-harm scars by visiting www.gofundme.com/helpmecoverupmyscars
Photos: Marcel Driessen