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,