Friday, June 12, 2009

Belly Love

I'm obsessed with my belly. It is not a good obsession. I'm definitely not holding my belly and telling it how much I love it. No, instead I'm assessing its girth in the mirror everyday and scrutinizing my profile in the mirror, and even my distorted reflection in the shop windows. I know I'm being ridiculous because having a little belly is no big deal. I also know it's ridiculous because I wholeheartedly believe in body diversity and in living a healthy lifestyle without dieting or trying to reduce my body.

In order to rid myself of my negative belly image, I went to belliesarebeautiful and checked out other people's bellies. To be honest, at first I was super grossed out. Probably because I'm afraid of my own belly. Bellies are frightening to someone who has tried to maintain a high level of fitness her whole life. To love one's belly, one must embrace the fat parts of one's body and say, yep, these are super cool too.

Bellies by definition are the exact oppposite of what our beauty standard is all about. They're jiggly, they're floppy, they're rolly poly. They're fat. In fact, the belly can be sexy, our society says...but only if it's not there. If it's only a belly button (for women) or defined by the muscles beneath (for men), then you've got the sexy belly (non-existent belly that is).

I know that I'm a stupid product of my society. After all, how often do we hear how great the belly is? As I was looking for good messages on the Internet, I found this article by Judith Stone. I loved this paragraph:

  • I think it would be nice if hating the way you look weren't so good for the economy. We all know that advertising is designed to make us feel dissatisfied with ourselves so that we'll buy more stuff (like the weightloss products on which Americans spend $30 billion a year). We know, too, that women in ads, knockouts to start with, are artificially perfected beyond human emulation. We know, but we forget. I think it would be nice if the next time you took a look at one of these ads and asked yourself What's she got that I haven't got? you answered yourself: an airbrush.

One good belly message I could recall was from Pulp Fiction when Butch is talking to Fabian, his girlfriend, and she tells him how much she wishes she could have a little pot belly. I remember the scene because I was surprised that someone would want a belly, even if that person was a fictional character in a movie. I just never thought that it might be something desirable.

The only other awesome message I can think of is from the belly dancing community which embraces women with bellies. If you have a belly, fantastic! Wrap a scarf with bangles on it and shimmy away. Again, I remember being surprised when I saw a belly dancer perform and her body was natural, curvaceous and beautiful--but totally different than what beauty standards say is beautiful.

Of course, both of these messages don't really embrace true body diversity--they allow for a more curvaceous woman, but in the end, they don't really embrace the idea of a fat person being as beautiful or desirable as a thin person.

What's also interesting is that I've found when dating men, that they all seem to like the softness of a woman and have had no trouble embracing my belly and my thighs and my hips. If only I could enjoy and love my womanly body as much as men seem to.

I know I haven't advertised this blog site yet so I'm not expecting replies yet, but what do you think, invisible readers? Do you have belly love? What do you to embrace the soft parts of you?

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