Thursday, February 9, 2012

Get up close & personal: with your belly

No, this is DEFINITELY not a picture of my belly.  There is no way I would ever be so brave as to do such a thing as post a photo of my naked belly and yet this is exactly what over 75 women did.  In an age of Photoshopped reality, this project by Emily of XOJane is truly mind-altering.  

Composed entirely of slide after slide of belly, the Real Girl Belly Project documents the thoughts and images of 75 women and their waistlines.  Considering we spend so much of our lives obsessing over our middles, it's surprising how little we know about our own.  Ranging in age and physique, the sentiments over our guts vary from kinda self-loathing, to outright adoration and most shockingly, the latter isn't always from the toned and slim.  

Frankly, I'm a bit envious of the one above, which looks toned and has a nice hourglass shape to it, but the owner of this one herself only pointed out the impression left from her tights and the way one of her ribs sticks slightly out.  

Why do we women insist on being overly meticulous about our bodies?  Instead of picking out the flaws, why can't we recognize them as minor, or even, just maybe something to celebrate?  Is it really that boastful to say "Hey, my belly is damn beautiful!" 

Many of the bellies shown here had scars, lines, and fat, but their owners wore them proudly as scars of survival, lines drawn from childbirth, and fat gained after a struggle with an eating disorder.  It was a revelation to me to see these.  Our bodies are not plasticized dolls that should never be unwrapped; they are real, they are raw, and etched with every experience of our lives.

Today I looked secretly at my belly.  It is far from perfect and the one area of my body I am deeply self-conscious of.  It is soft, flabby, and quite honestly, I have the curves of a boy in that I have no hourglass whatsoever.  I wriggle away whenever anyone tries to touch me there claiming ticklishness, when at least partially it's because I'm petrified of them feeling flab, instead of ab.  I suppose I should learn to love my belly, but I don't.  I actually cannot think of any reason to, except to think "It could be worse."  I know I'm supposed to tell you otherwise, but I can only be honest.  How do you learn to love what you hate the most about yourself?  So far, I've just been trying to find other things to love and it seems to work mostly, but the belly is always there.  It's the elephant in the room and while I haven't been able to shove it out, maybe by learning from these other women, I can learn to maybe love it, even if just a little.  

Today I looked at my belly.  And I thought to myself that something needs to change and it doesn't just involve sit-ups.

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