I’ve been fighting my belly for years, demanding that it be flat. It has gotten close at times, but generally it likes to hang out a bit. It doesn’t want to be held back. I should have known that this would be my belly. Both sides of my family talk about the “all gut, no butt” bodies that cling to the genetic lines, but growing up and living as female, surrounded but perfectly photoshopped celebrity bodies, has made the flat belly my personal standard of beauty.
My belly has been through a lot, to the point that it can never look or be “perfect.” At the age of seven, my belly was sliced open for a surgery that found what had put me in the hospital for weeks. Before that surgery, my outlook for leaving the hospital was bleak, but when I did leave, I took with an exclamation point down the middle of me.
My parents offered, as I got older, to fix the scar, make it less noticeable. I turned them down. You don’t part with your survival scars. So my belly, marked by this scar, can never be perfect. My standard of beauty is already (and always was) unachievable.
A few years ago, I was a larger woman. I was battling some personal issues and hating everything about myself. I got bigger and bigger. One of the many many many many many turning points that finally got me back to me was deciding to love this bigger body. Deciding that, if this was my body, my life was much better served loving it than hating it. From that moment, I started watching my thinking. When my thinking about my body changed, I started taking care of myself. I started eating well and exercising, and loving doing these things. I started to shrink. I got back to what I thought was my typical size and then got a little smaller. I got that flat belly. And then my thinking started changing again. I started eating well and exercising because I was afraid of getting big again. Afraid of growing that belly. Afraid that I would be knocked out of the “attractive” class. Afraid that it might mean I was heading down a darker road again.
Life gets in the way though. I finished a graduate degree, started applying to law school, and started working in a physically demanding job (but not so much that I don’t have to exercise). I’ve gotten a little bigger than where I feel really comfortable in my belly, but not to the “re-evaluate how you are treating your body before you have to shop for clothes” size (note: I hate shopping for clothes). But I’ve realized I’ve been really down on my belly. I thought I would have more time (and desire) to run, which is how I keep myself (size-wise) where I want to be. I’ve been making a lot of excuses and doing a lot of mental berating of myself. Until last Friday, when I decided to make a month-long resolution:
This month, I am going to love this belly. I am not going to suck it in. I am going to proudly wear it out for all to see. I am going to remember that it is me. It is my history, my survival, my stress, and my joy all in one lovely round place.
If you see me walking about and want to toss out a “Nice belly!”, don’t hold back. Let that belly pride ring.