Image reads: “Do not touch your body with bad intentions. Stroke your soft skin. Rub your belly when it is full. Hug yourself because it feels good.
Pleasure yourself. Do not pinch at the fat on your hips. Do not do violence to yourself. Do not hate the shell you have been given.
It is your home; don’t burn it to the ground.”
It has been awhile since something I’ve come across on the internet has resonated with me beyond a simple head nod. I couldn’t find the original source for the image other than a million posts on Tumblr. But there is one line in particular that reminded me how far I’ve come in my own body acceptance journey.
“Rub your belly when it is full.”
I nodded in agreement when I first read this, but then I remembered how ashamed of my belly I was even after I started my activism in fat acceptance. It’s something I still struggle with, mind you, but oh how much better connected I am to this belly (or bellies) of mine!
I was always afraid to place a hand on my belly, lest someone think I’m pregnant. How many times had I been asked by strangers about an imaginary, impending birth. Ugh! The first couple of times destroyed me. I would rarely touch my belly, even in private. The only time I allowed this physical interaction with my belly and my hand/s was when I was in pain, typically from menstrual cramps. Only then would I sort of soothe and cradle my belly, but only in private.
I hated any sort visible belly outline my clothes would allude to. I was so disconnected from my belly, this obvious and important body part of mine. I was fat, I accepted being fat, but my belly was just UGH! I had grown beyond the grabbing and mentally cutting off my belly, but I didn’t like it or love it. It made pants so hard to find. If they fit over my enormous thighs I then had the struggle of a lifetime getting the zips up!
When I moved out on my own in early 2012 I had to get used to spending a lot of time alone. I fought it every step of the way (no doubt evidenced within this very blog somewhere! Ha-ha!). The more time I spent alone with this fat body, the more I connected with it through dance, through self exploration and pleasure, the more comfortable I became with my belly.
Hanging out with radical fat activists does give you quite a boost! It has the incredible side effect of no longer seeing anything bad about yourself or your body. Good stuff! And so I began dressing more boldly. The colors! The dresses! So many dresses! And then I wore a very body conforming, visible belly outline revealing dress! It was more like a very long and clingy t-shirt but it was comfy as hell and I got so much compliments every time I wore it! The first time I wore it to see my ex-husband, his eyes popped out of his head! The first time I wore it to see my at-the-time-lover, he was speechless and just kept saying, “Wow!” I haven’t worn that dress in nearly two years, but I did end up buying another one in different colors…perhaps it’s time to rock those once again?!
It was when I first started to explore my body with new lovers that I first realized that my belly could be seen as sexy. What a revelation?! And I was shocked at how into my arms folks were, too, but we’re talkin’ bellies today. The first time a lover asked to kiss my belly I was gobsmacked! And now here I am always trying to give some belly love to my favorite fella! Ha-ha! I never knew I’d be into bellies myself, let alone love my own!
From being a timid belly bumper with Marilyn Wann to loving and rubbing on my own belly, it has been quite a wild ride! I think the message got through to me at some point that women aren’t supposed to have bellies at all. I don’t know where that came from (maybe my years of reading Cosmopolitan, blegh!), but it was in there and took a lot of work and a lot of love to get it the hell out!
Literally my first belly-bump ever! International No Diet Day 2011. Photo by Nicole of www.awellroundedventure.com
My friend Brooke Blaize started a facebook group called, “Hunnies with Tummies” where she encourages folks to submit photos (anonymous or not) of their tummies to the page. I love it! It’s such a positive celebration of something we’re supposed to somehow be ashamed of. I know I was. But I love seeing the different shapes and sizes and configurations of bellies! Bellies are awesome! I asked Brooke why she started the group and here’s what she said:
I created “Hunnies with Tummies” because I felt that there’s a lack of representation for women like me. Every ad that DOES have a plus size woman only uses one type: Wide hips, small waist, big boobs, with a flat tummy. I don’t have some of that stuff and a lot of women I know don’t either. I don’t think it’s fair to promote body love without including all types of bodies. I’ve had a round tummy since I was a little kid. Growing up, my mom would make me wear a girdle and reprimand me for not “sucking it in” and would fuss at me because she was tired of people asking her if I was pregnant. I never understood the big deal about my big belly. I also never really gave in to the hype. I was sensitive about people talking shit about my belly but I never thought “Ewww gross. Big bellies.” I just figured people didn’t wanna see it so I’d try to hide it.
I remained a virgin until I was 22 (because I made a conscious decision to wait until I was ready) and when I did finally lose my virginity, my attitude about my body started to change. I still tried to hide my belly but my boyfriend at the time always kissed and rubbed my belly when we’d have sex and it completely amazed me that someone could find something that so many people hated to be a source of pleasure and admiration. Our relationship didn’t last very long but he kinda planted a seed. I met another guy not too long after and we became good friends. We’d talk about the way I dressed sometimes. I wasn’t frumpy, but I wasn’t aware of my potential at the time. He suggested that I stop trying to hide and wear something that showed my figure. I thought he was joking but eventually I tried it and got a good look at myself in a form fitting dress and all bets were off. I didn’t depend solely on his opinion because I’ve always been one to choose for myself but it did help that someone saw me and wanted to see me show off my body even with my big belly. I started looking at myself naked more often and rubbing my belly and reminding myself that if I was gonna live in this body I needed to love it. I always thought other girls with big bellies were equally sexy and fabulous as those with flat tummies. I just learned to embrace it as I got older.
I love hearing other people’s stories about how they came to love and accept themselves or even parts of themselves! How do you feel about your belly? How have you come to love and accept it? What do you still struggle with? Leave a comment or email me a post to be included in the next part of this “Bellies” series: firstname.lastname@example.org or submit your belly pics to this blog’s facebook page or Hunnies with Tummies!
Rad Fatty Love,
I know my last post sounded dire, to be honest it felt that way at the time. Being unemployed is an emotional roller coaster. I cannot stress that enough, especially to folks who’ve never had to look for work or been out of work for extended periods of time. It’s fucking brutal! But things have improved…
I’ve had a birthday, gone on a road trip, caught up with many friends I’d been missing and had loads of interviews (mostly phone, some in-person). I’ve had to become a bit of a hard nose through the process or I just won’t get heard, but I think it’s working as I’ve some leads, interviews and follow ups in the pipeline.
I have been surprised by some of the people in my life lately, though. Folks I consider to be my closest of friends have shown a great lack of compassion and kindness towards me. To the extent that I suddenly felt uncomfortable talking about myself or my troubles at all. I felt unsafe talking to anyone for awhile. I was getting a lot of pressure surrounding my birthday, but when the day came it arrived with more surprise as to who even gave a flying fuck.
I have felt the need to quietly go about my days doing my best to not reach out to anyone or asking too much of them. I feel as though people are avoiding me and quite frankly I’ve had enough. I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted or spend time with people who would rather be elsewhere. Why can’t people just be fucking honest?!
For those who have been kind or simply willing to share time or a meal with me, it’s been refreshing and rejuvenating. I’ve had some difficulty mitigating my anxiety when confronted with overall awkward situations (is this real life?!), which I’ve now discovered that I become silent when it’s all too much to take in. I’m usually a very talkative person. *Shrugs* What can ya do?
I’m feeling good this week, though. I’m taking things day by day and when that’s too much, hour by hour. I’m doing my best to not over think things, to not think too far ahead or get my hopes up. It’s a journey and a process and I’m working on everything and doing my damnedest to stay afloat. My puggyman certainly helps with that. And some of my friends, even ones I wouldn’t have expected to be there for me that way (B).
My boyfriend is, well, the most amazing person in my world! He has so much faith in me and sees me as this incredible person who can do anything. I miss feeling that way about myself, I won’t lie, but it is nice to have someone who loves me so unconditionally and reminds me of my talents and abilities. I may not have family (in that sort of way), but I do have an incredible partner who I feel so safe with. I am without words as to how grateful I am to have him in my life. #GeekLove
I’ve been struggling most, lately, with the passage of time. How is the year nearly over?! I forget what day or date it is often. I can’t believe November is half done with. But I did discover that my unemployed status grants me access to financial assistance for health insurance…so long as I don’t use it, it should only be $1 a month! Ha-ha! I don’t want to even think about what happens when I do have to use it, but I will hopefully not have to cross that bridge and will be gainfully employed very soon. *CrossesAllAppendages*
I guess it’s the financial part that is the toughest to handle. It takes such a toll on a person. I nearly had a panic attack after buying something over the weekend. It was a sweater, I had a coupon. BUT it felt like I was going to die tomorrow the moment I stepped out of the store. I wanted to rush back to return it but my bf insisted I needed it and deserved something nice for myself. I won’t argue, but in my head was a tornado of misery. It literally felt like a storm swirling around up there. I felt my throat tighten and just looked at my bf in the eyes, pleadingly and said, “Please distract me from what’s in my head right now!” And he did, thank the stars! I do find such value in distractions these days.
I’ve been struggling, too, with the passing of someone in my peer group. We were best friends in 7th grade. Haven’t had much contact since. I reached out to her many years ago, she took months to respond and then never contacted me again. When an old friend informed me of her recent struggle with cancer I was surprised, but perhaps not for the reasons most would be. I was surprised they felt the need to tell me. I mean, why? What could I have done? I had no way of contacting her, nor would I know what to say. I’m not even sure why they felt the need to tell me.
My 7th grade bff died on Halloween. I only found out a couple of days ago. In fact, I found out from her long time and current bff. Someone I have also not had contact with since Junior High School. I am greatly confused by all of this. It is sad news, don’t get me wrong. I know she was surrounded by loved ones. I just don’t know what was expected of me or even how to feel about it. I still don’t know, really. I didn’t know her. I don’t know any of the people from back then. None have kept in touch, none have reached out or attempted to get to know me or be a part of my life or even chat on fucking facebook! I am sad for the loss of life, of course, but I’m not sure what people think of me or what I should be doing or feeling about it all. And due to interactions with other people making me feel uncomfortable last month, I’ve only spoken of this to one trusted and dear friend of mine.
I don’t even know what the point of this post is other than to give a bit of an update. I’ve been posting a lot of articles and things on this blog’s Facebook page, I do hope you’ll “Like” it and share what’s on your mind there, too. I want to get back into writing/blogging again, I’m just not sure where to start or what y’all would want to read. I will make an attempt and see how it feels. That is all I can promise right now. Please feel free to drop me a line, share your woes or victories, check in or vent about something: email@example.com
All my love,
It reads 2:30 and it taunts me. I’ve been awake for hours and made my first priorities relieving my bladder followed by filling it, with coffee. This would stave off the inevitable headache and belly ache. It fills it and fools it. It begins the cycle of false control. I know this. Not always while it’s happening but now that I’ve seen the clock and heard it’s taunts in my head I know it’s started again. I even got up to pee once again once I noted the time and walked into the kitchen noting a dish I should place in the washer but nothing more and walked to the front door. I peered out to see if in fact it did actually rain after so many months of promise but dryness. It rained. The evidence is apparent on the cement sidewalk in front of my house. I smell it now, that familiar metallic zing in the air and yet, it feels so foreign. I shut the door not knowing what else to do and head back to my bedroom at the end of the hall hating myself for feeling completely unable or unwilling (I’m not really sure) to eat food. I’m hungry. I know I should eat. But what? I go through a mental list of what’s in my fridge and pantry. I let out a big sigh.
Having applied to a few jobs first thing this morning and then after managing the depths of my many inboxes I begin to feel uneasy.
What am I doing? What do I want to be doing?
Last night I was in the thick of anxiety and despair weighted down by a sudden feeling of severe alone-ness. I convinced myself that I was a giant loser. I felt it in the bottom of my gut. I held it with both hands. I felt sick, but only really sick of my own company. I reached out, to so many and yet none could distract me from my own self torture. Completely out of my usual coping mechanism I started a text conversation with a dear but far away friend who surely couldn’t fully understand my situation, but tried wholeheartedly. I knew better, so why couldn’t I do better? For myself?
So good at helping others, re-branding myself “director of happiness” and yet there I was in a weak and dark hour feeling like the lowest life form on the planet. What happened to directing my own happiness first? Why is it when left with too much time alone do I always default to self destruction mode? I know better but yet it still happens. Is it just a comfort or familiarity thing? Ugh!
She tried to lift me up, sweet thing that she is, even though I knew she was struggling, too. But it wasn’t cheeriness I needed or wanted. Soon I realized all I had to do was eat, but I didn’t feel hungry and I didn’t want to start all over again. I’d become disconnected again and wasn’t sure how or when it happened but I knew that’s what the deal was.
I have an eating disorder. I will probably always struggle with it.
I push myself only to later punish myself for doing so. I feel out of control over my entire life right now and so I pretend not to notice the hours stretch and pass. When I can look outside and see no light it almost feels like gentle permission to eat again. Almost only because occasionally that alone isn’t enough and I’ll attempt some sort of sick competition with myself to see just how much longer I can go. I hate it and myself when I do it but am so rarely aware of it when in the thick of it.
Once I decide I will eat it becomes even more difficult to decide on what to eat. Should I go get something? Should I cook? Heat something up? Money is always the constraint. Do I have anything fresh? Is something about to go bad? It’s never just “I’m hungry and will eat food” it’s always gotta be about something else. Always the multitasker. I can never just be human and do human things, I always have to worry about all the things always. Ugh!
Too much time alone seems to be the one consistant trigger I can point to and know for certain that I am not always good for myself. There was a point where it felt good and right to spend time alone. Those long evenings with the puggyman, chilling after a long day of work. I would happily and hungrily eat with ease and feel satisfied and fulfilled after a meal. Now without a job, once again I am left with not just evenings but days and evenings running into each other and bleeding into and out of me until I can’t recall the day or the date only that there is pressure to find a job, to be excited about my upcoming birthday and to make plans and decisions for those things.
I’ve lost my joy. There’s no pure joy anymore. It’s been muddied by stress. Even when having fun on the weekend with friends or my fella I just can’t grasp my old me-ness that used to get me through it. How can I help so many others through their difficult shit but nearly refuse any sort of help or support with mine? Why do I feel so invisible? How is everyone but me so fucking busy all of the time? (Have I really pushed everyone away?)
I’m writing this to avoid having to decide what to eat to stop the searing pain of it from interrupting my distraction seeking efforts online. I’ve hit a dead end and I’m having to face it and yet hate that I have to at all. Asked recently if I would consider never eating actual food again if I could just take a tablet 2-3 times a day instead and even that I couldn’t make a fantasy decision on. “I’d like the option to eat or not I guess” is all I managed.
When employed I am decisive and bubbly. When unemployed I am poor and miserable.
I feel bad for spending money on food and worse when others buy me a meal. I hate pity most of all. I self sabotage when left to my own devices for too long. I don’t yet know how much “too long” actually is. I only know when I’ve reached it or after the fact, usually. I’ve become sedentary out of weakness and fear. Weakness because I’m not getting enough nutrition to have the energy to do much in the way of movement. Fear of the outside world, human interactions, attacks, imposter syndrome, recognition, questions or even eye contact. I want to block it all out and so I do by not going out at all. My dog doesn’t seem to mind but surely he’d like to go for walks again. He’s an enabler of a snuggle monster.
I have difficulty getting excited about anything. I don’t feel quite numb, but I know it will arrive shortly. I can’t do the things I want to do (access/money/energy) and don’t want to do the things I should do. I have been sleeping too much. There’s a first for everything I suppose. I don’t want to talk about me. I want to talk about movies and music and philosophies and fashion and television shows and cuteness. I want art and feel so far removed from it at once.
I want to just eat something simple and feel satisfied. Why has other people’s moral issues with food crept back into my world? I didn’t sign up for this. And it’s not related to my body size at all. This is surprising to people. I love my body. But I am not supporting it like I should or want to. This is a battle of the mind. This is part of my depression cycle. I was doing okay with eating the first few weeks after getting laid off. I even started to cook and bake again for a bit. I don’t really know what changed or shifted nut something did somehow.
Thanks for reading.
I have been thinking a lot about space and relationships and how these meet and interact and have an effect on us all. Today, on my personal Facebook page, I posted the following:
What’s on Your mind?
What’s on mine? How the way people act shows you how they feel about you, regardless of their words.
I have definitely become more introverted over the last couple of years. I have purposefully given space to people and relationships, at first for my own sanity, but later because I saw that it was better/healthier for all involved. Space. Wow. It can almost seem like doing nothing creates more definitive results than doing something…but that’s misleading.
Space is necessary for us to process how things have affected us and how we feel about them. Often being in the thick of something can blind us to what is really going on. While I knew my job was becoming toxic, it wasn’t until I was pushed out and had some time to process what happened and more so hearing how things have progressed afterwards that I realized just how fortunate I was to get laid off. Emotional roller coaster, for real.
I have been giving myself more space, too. From socializing, people, things, stuff…Ha-ha! True facts. I have to really want to do something or see someone in order for me to actually do that lately. Even then, it’s a struggle. My anxiety has become something that I must consider constantly. I can no longer handle being in large crowds. Who knew?! I have been to hundreds of concerts and when my bff “Q” suggested we see the Violent Femmes I was instantly excited and then sad. I just can’t do it anymore. Thank the stars for YouTube! Ha!
Before I posted the above on my Facebook wall, I knew that people would also see it and look at me and think about how I have treated them, too. Of course I considered this. I’m not so full of myself, ya know. I am in no way insinuating that I have treated everyone in my life justly. Hardly! But it is a humbling reminder to myself that not everyone is aware of my struggles or would know or care to know how to navigate that or what I must do to navigate this on my own. It really does go both ways.
There are relationships in my life that simply require more space where others would be better with less, but hey, geography, am I right?! I am still not very good at telling people I want to see them. I am still not very good at taking care of myself (too much time in my head somehow turns into my not eating all day). It’s a journey, yes, not a destination. So I am still learning how to do right by myself and those I love. And I do love so many that it often hurts to have them so far away or spread out or to not see them, even when they don’t live far at all.
I have learned to give space to my vulnerability, to sit with it and give it it’s own breath and time. It’s really fucking hard! It’s hard, too, to have people refuse to see me outside of whatever version of me they have captured as their own and keep in a little labeled box, “Sarah”. Yeah, that’s not me. I’m a multi-faceted individual, we all are. There is no singular “Sarah” and I don’t wake up each day unchanged, somehow. I have found that this is when gross misunderstandings occur, when I am not seen as me, but as a past version of myself that this loved one won’t let go of. Space is needed.
Actions do speak louder than words. I believe this. I do take words all too seriously at times and forget to pay attention to folks actions. Not feeling as though I belong to anything lately has been tough. When I want to collaborate on things I get lots of empty promises and I’m left disappointed and doubting myself. I don’t know that I’ll be so quick to want to start or join things for awhile. Again, space is necessary.
Time heals, space heals and I’m feeling a need to protect myself emotionally, too. I have been accused of judging people I love too harshly or giving up or cutting them off “for no reason” but I gotta tell ya, I always have a reason. As much as I live my life from the heart, I try to stick close to actual logic. I do have a high standard of friendship and it is because of that standard that I have the lengthy and close friends that I do. Friends that have hurt me, and still do, for sure, but that are full of enough love and respect and forgiveness that things always work out in the end. Remove respect from the equation and start treating people poorly and I’m not sticking around for that. I give chances, I hear people out and am open to starting anew, but I will not be abused. I must draw a line there.
I may keep to myself at times, I may appear to be a very private person, but I am honest and won’t change that. To those that take the time to get to know me and I them, there is nothing to hide. I know I’m weird and a bit strange, but overall I just want to enjoy my life and the people in it, ya know? Isn’t that what we all want? Sometimes it seems the only way to get where we need to be or go is to give people and ourselves some space.
I know I haven’t written in awhile. To be honest, I’ve lost whatever it was that allowed me to write, I’ve lost my voice. I don’t know when or if it will return, but y’all have been so kind and encouraging. If you have questions, would like advice, would like to guest post, miss something that I used to post or would like my thoughts on a particular subject, please leave a comment on this post or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much!
- Equal Rights
- Fat Acceptance
- Oh Daddy!
- Rad Fatty Alert
- Tank Top Tuesday!!!
- Tell Me Tuesday
- TMI Tuesday