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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  1. Thanks for posting this, loved seeing the gallery of all the bellies!
    Everyone should learn to accept themselves for what they are. Easier said than done :)

  2. love this post.

    i used to not like my belly but since all that crap that's happened to me in the last few years, i have a different perspective of life. i have made peace with myself and i've come to realize that what my body looks like does not define who i am.

    you are beautiful!

  3. I love this post! (And how fitting, right after I posted how much I could "hate AND love myself at the buffet")

    ALL girls have body issues. Even the "small, Asian" ones... of which I am sometimes being accused of when I make a self deprecating joke about how much I ate that day. You see, whether or not we are 5'0 with a pudge pouch, or 5'9 with a six pack... women have been raised to hate their bodies. It's a communal bonding experience to be able to have self shaming parties with girlfriends, and talk about how fat you're getting. I think you'd actually run the risk of standing out if you expressed satisfaction with your body type. (smug bitch!)

    At the same time, I'm getting to an age (and perhaps maturity) if no longer feeling contained or limited by my body. I'm going to the gym more often than I've ever been, and still gaining weight (and believe me, it's not a six pack under there) but I am at peace. My body's grown and shrunk in different placesover the years, but I'm okay with it -because I know what I find personally attractive in other women is swagger. I know it's still going to be a journey for me to strut my assets in a bikini on the beach, but I am appreciating my curves with age. They give me a strong stature, and provide me with presence. What I can't make in height, I'll do it in width!

    P.S. And for the record, no guy should be trying to tickle you unless he's your uncle.. and you're five.

  4. Once upon a time, I was in as good shape as is possible--I worked like a dog, both manual labor and working out. Wrestling coaches push their teams to the point of dropping. But even then I didn't have perfect washboard two bottom ribs flair out a little. But it didn't matter and it doesn't matter for you, you're a beautiful girl.


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