The Ins and Outies of the Belly Button Fetish Community
The belly button fetish community has persisted through the years, despite outside scrutiny, several of their forums shutting down, and the rise of high-waisted pants.
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My initial assumption was that the belly button fetish community was, itself, an innie.
While it seems that one can't tweet a shoe emoji without hitting an online foot fetishist, those who get off to navels do not show themselves so readily. Yes, belly button porn is findable, but not in the same centralized, commodified, and advertised way as other jerk-off material in 2015. There is no XBelly or NavelHub. On mainstream porn sites, you won't see banners advertising horny teens in search of daddies to fuck them where their umbilical cords used to be. On Reddit, only 400 people subscribe to r/bellybutton, and even so, the subreddit is more a duet between two users than a thriving community. While nearly every other fetish seems to have unionized in some way--under the banner of shared search terms or a common website--it seemed to me initially that belly button lovers remain both discrete, as in isolated, and discreet, as in private.
Uncovering a Lost Navel History
With brute force Googling, I began to cobble together an understanding of their world. Navel fetishism, or alvinophilia, is less of a singular fetish and more of a solar system of different fetishes that orbit a common hole. For some, belly button love is a mere subsidiary of the broader fetish alvinolagnia, or stomach fetishism. For others, many of whom call their interest navel infatuation, the belly button itself is the main event. You, of course, are here for people sticking their dicks in belly buttons. What you want to know is, "Which group does that?"
The answer is not so simple. While a member of either group might be interested in literally fucking the tummy hole, that act is more commonly lumped in with adjacent weight-related stomach fetishes like BBW, stuffing, feederism, and belly expansion--probably due to the fact that fucking a shallow indentation feels better when your penis is also enveloped in flesh. For most people who are primarily into the navel itself, however, the fantasy is less dick-oriented. Certainly, some wish to ejaculate inside of it, but most want to lick it, finger it, watch someone finger it, or merely enjoy its beauty undisturbed. Like any fetish, there exists a hardcore extremist fringe that variously wants to stimulate its object with needles, clamps, bugs, knives, and wine bottle openers, though this spinoff fetish is about as widespread as you'd expect of something that merges very hardcore BDSM with a hilariously silly body part. If you can get over the alleged goofiness of conceiving of a belly button as an erogenous zone, then a belly button fetish in practice is only about as weird as being really into, say, muscular forearms or shapely legs. This said, it's still pretty niche.
You, of course, are here for people sticking their dicks in belly buttons.
I assembled most of this information by reading pages and pages of dying and defunct fetish threads on different forums, forums that seemed largely disconnected from each other. To the casual reader, these forums give the impression that most belly button fetishists spend their time online a) trying to decide if their fetish is normal, and b) trying to see if other like-minded masturbators even exist. Slowly, however, I began to see signs that this community was not as disconnected as I initially believed. The first sign was the occasional allusion to something that people referred to as the previous forum. Then, I began to notice that people on introduction threads were greeting new members not with Welcome! and instead with Welcome back! This is when I realized that the belly button infatuation community wasn't decentralized--it was recovering. I was witnessing a diaspora in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Belly Button Fucking in the Before Time
Once upon a time, in the late nineties or early aughts, there was a small but thriving online kingdom of belly button fetish sites. This was at the height of the navel piercing trend, and the first-wave of crop tops, and the rise of teen pop sensations like Christina Aguilera and Mandy Moore, who helped cement taut stomachs as the body ideal of the day. In hindsight, it seems inevitable that such a pop culture terroir would lead to the emergence of a refined navel connoisseurship. These navel fetish sites were maintained by individuals and usually hosted on third-party forum sites like ProBoards or InsideTheWeb. Each forum catered to a unique variation on the fetish, but were mostly the same in that they had individual boards for celebrity photos, candids, erotica, and personal stories. As the internet outgrew forums in favor or social networks and corporate porn sites, these sites shuttered one by one.
A belly button lover who goes by Mike Brooklyn explained to me, "Now all those forums you mentioned are closed, either because the sites that hosted them went down, or the people in charge of the forums didn't want to maintain them any longer."
Sometimes, too, these dens of navel-centric pleasure ran into issues with copyright infringement and nudity. The third-party forum hosts weren't built for porn-related content, so when infighting and absentee landlords inevitably led each new belly button community to its demise, the host sites were often reluctant to recover the data, citing terms of service violations. This is all very standard and boring forum drama, but what it meant for such a niche fetish community is that with each new transition from site to site, the members were essentially tasked with rebuilding the infrastructure and membership to support their fetish from the ground up. As the dynasty of web 2.0 dawned, the belly button fetishists were cast into exile again and again, repeatedly doomed to wander the net in search of a homeland for both their jerk-off material and their tribe.
If you don't have a particularly rare sexual inclination, then the closing of your favorite porn site probably wouldn't mean much in terms of your ability to find materials over which to cum. But when the The Original Bellybutton Forum closed its doors due to admin-related problems, it took some time for members to reconvene at BellyLove and rebuild their stash of belly button smut from scratch. When BellyLove eventually met the same fate as OBF, a few members had thought in advance to burn some of the spank bank on to blank CDs, but the story of rebuilding anew was largely the same as before. In the most recent iteration of the story, the new sites are BellyInc and Navelicious, with a small contingent staking ground on Reddit. In these places, you'll find the same reintroduction threads that are, by now, old hat for the community. User Vertias from BellyLove reemerges on Reddit as VeritasxShmeritas and posts, "Yo. My name was already taken. :( I'm Veritas, resident sick fuck of the bellybutton community." Another user checks in, "BellyBeeper reporting for duty. Was also a member at BellyLove."
What's surprising about these sites is that the content is rather tame compared to anything you'd find in a standard PornHub clip. Many users swap links to softcore belly button fingering videos on YouTube, the community's preferred video site. Others share clothed pics of their favorite midriff-bearing celebs. As of January 2015, the most popular celebrity navels on BellyInc belonged to Emily Ratajkowski, Paris Hilton, and Vanessa Hudgens. Tales shared on the erotica and personal stories boards are for the most part lighthearted and good-natured, like this navel-laden story about a visit to a waterpark in Canada ("Never in my life have I seen such a diversity of bellybuttons"). Navel-related pop culture anecdotes circulate widely as well. ("There was a time Christina Ricci was on Ally McBeal and she said she had a thing for bellybuttons and offered to kiss Ally's.")
Almost all of the 20-plus belly button fetishists I spoke with were quick to defend the community against accusations of creepiness.
BellyInc admin Mike Brooklyn told me that more violent and explicit belly button infatuation porn can be bought for a price at Clips4Sale.com, or can sometimes be found circulating on the Navelicious forums (though members of each forum emphatically designated the other forum as the place where the hard stuff lives). This more explicit porn isn't Mike's preference, and wasn't the professed pleasure of any but one of the fetishists with whom I spoke. In fact, almost all of the 20-plus belly button fetishists I spoke with were, without prompt, quick to defend the community against accusations of creepiness or weirdness. Many mentioned a 2009 episode of Attack of the Show! in which belly button infatuation was portrayed as violent and antisocial. This clip is discussed in the community with a tone that suggests it is equally ubiquitous in non-belly button discourse as, say, the Janet Jackson superbowl nip slip.
The gaze of the vanilla-seeming outside world, the world that reads articles like this one, weighs heavy on the belly button community. In some cases, this inspires fastidious community management, with heavy talk of core values and the best way to create a non-creepy place for discussion that extends beyond the typical "fap forum." In other cases, however, such outsider-status can sometimes lead to a victim complex.
A Navelicious user from the Phillipines told me via Kik, "Honestly, the navel fetish community has gotten pretty toxic." When I pressed for more details, he explained that a sense of shame and otherness around the fetish can sometimes leave belly button lovers feeling victimized and entitled. He showed me a screencap of some posts in which a user fears that women are catching on to the fetish and deliberately hiding their stomachs in public. As someone who isn't especially hot for belly buttons, and has never readily understood my own as something that could even be objectified, the heightened drama and paranoia in these posts feels hilariously alien. At the same time, it seemed like such standard-issue objectification of women that I was surprised someone would even feel moved to mention it. I ran this purported issue by a handful of other forum users, male and female, and nearly everyone identified this rare "creepiness" as something the community was working to self-police. Their sense of purpose felt ludicrous in the scope of the broader sex internet. It's hard to imagine Porn Hub users organzing to clean up the comments under some classic girl-on-girl, but I suppose when your fetish is extremely niche, working to preserve and protect your infrastructure becomes a matter of survival.
The Next Generation
Younger belly button fetishists, blissfully unaware of the community's rich history, usually surface on Reddit, on a still-active DeviantArt page, or on sites like the Experience Project, where they share Kik usernames to chat. A 17-year-old male I chatted with on Kik told me he prefers outies, or innies that can be manipulated into outies, but noted moderately that the ideal belly button really depends on the person enjoying it. When I asked why he liked the navel, he gave the completely unpsychological answer that I'd heard repeated over and over, from users new new and old: "Don't know why, I like it though."
He said he got into the fetish recently, in the wake of the recent crop top revival. When I asked him what fashion trends he doesn't like like, he repeated the one thing on which the community can seem to agree: high waisted pants.