I’m done with my friends apologizing for their bellies. Done with loved ones finding clothes that ‘flatter’ their tummies.
I am done with women’s magazines telling us how to get a flat belly. How to lose the love handles and get back in ‘shape’.
I am done with men feeling insecure about their missing six-packs or soft bellies, and not feeling the space to share their feelings.
I’m done with anxious hair removal.
Bellies are amazing. It’s where tiny humans may grow, where food is processed, where emotions and sxxuality and creativity live. Such a magic cauldron.
Bellies come in all sizes and shapes – and that’s all good!
I’m so done with still depending my whole self image on how I feel about my belly.
We need to change the paradigm. Bellies are okay as they are. Bellies are wonderful. Bellies are welcome.
If you want to train and gave a muscled and flat belly because that’s what brings you joy: good for you! That’s absolutely wonderful.
But please do not let society pressure you to judge your belly, or force a need to sculpt in into some impossible shape for your body.
All bellies are worthy.
And I’m done with anyone saying otherwise.
Sometimes people respond to these rants with:
“Why are you writing about this? You aren’t fat.”
“It’s easy for you to say, as your belly looks amazing.”
“You are born in a gorgeous body.”
I know these remarks are meant well, but they make me feel terrible. They completely dismiss my feelings about myself. Telling me I shouldn’t feel ashamed or otherwise bad about my appearance, makes me feel ashamed of my shame. Insecure about my insecurities. It gives me the feeling I should hide my emotions, that something is wrong with me for feeling them. It’s playing with the cards society has been handing us for so long: there is a perfect image we should fit into, whether it’s about looks or feelings.
What if I tell you:
- Choosing clothes for the past decades has always been about hiding my belly.
- When I go on dates (or any meeting with people I think highly off) I usually get home exhausted as I have been holding my breath all day to look skinnier.
- I still automatically pull in my tummy for photos.
- In my late teenager years I have not gone swimming for more than 5 years as I was ashamed of my belly.
- My full image of my worth (both looks, attractiveness and intelligence) completely depend on how I feel about my belly – still.
- My body and it’s size have been shamed by those closest to me.
- I was bullied in school for my looks.
- The only times I felt absolutely comfortable with my belly was in the last weeks of my pregnancies.
Does this change my ‘right’ to write about my feelings about my belly? Does this entitle me to compassion?
I believe there should not be any criteria for deserving compassion – and definitely not when it’s about our looks and the crazy conditionings about them society imposes on us.
Maybe that person that gets complimented with her flat belly looks like that because she is chronically ill.
Maybe that person that is being told ‘this loss of weight surely looks good on them’ lost that weight because of grief over the loss of something important.
Maybe that person that gets shamed for their bigger size is happy their body functions fine.
So please, handle everyone with kindness and compassion. Even they look perfect to you. Instead of telling them, there’s nothing to worry about, tell them it sucks that they feel bad. Tell them their feelings matter to you. You could ask them if there is anything that you could do to support them. And if they ask you to tell them nice things about their body, THEN you can let the compliments enter the conversation.