The Real Body Project: Expose the Truth.

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Last week when I wrote on my reaction to this picture I didn’t suspect that it would elicit such a reaction.

I truly just happened upon it and had quite a reaction to what I saw. I didn’t really see the silhouette of the hip bones or the relative size of the waist to hips. I just saw hands on a stomach, lightly resting against the flesh. My first flash in that instant was to the Prenatal Yoga class that I teach. At the beginning of each class I have the students place a hand on both their heart and belly. I instruct them to imagine a loving, healing light emanating from their hands and creating a path of warmth and connection. I do this along with my students, but have a difficult time really placing my hand on my belly, instead letting it hover, afraid to touch the flesh or feel the softness.

This picture raised the question, what if I was ok with feeling my belly, with feeling my softness, and my vulnerability?

Over the past week, the discovery of the xoJane Real Girl Belly Project, and one follow up post later I have received quite a few belly pictures in my inbox. Amazing bellies and amazing stories. All real, raw, and unretouched, even more beautiful in their truth. I’ve felt a shift in myself a bit as well as I step more into accepting that I really am “ok” as I am or how I ever will be. I am more than my body and I don’t need to be pregnant to be ok with feeling my humanity. These brave women and men who have sent me their photos are so much more as well. My heart has been touched as they open up to me, a complete stranger. Inspiring.

As a result I have also connected with others who are working to expose the truth of our human nature. No Photoshop allowed. Plans are beginning to brew for a project showing real bellies with hands resting in a heart mudra and a domain has been purchased. The media and industry isn’t going to change. The way to be heard is to become louder than them. Average, skinny, plus sized, man or woman, please join me in this endeavor.

If you are interested in being part of this please send me your belly and your story at hannah.siegle(at)gmail.com.

Photo Credits: Pinterest, madisonplus.com

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Hannah Siegle

Hannah Siegle began to do yoga four years ago initially for the physical practice, however she quickly discovered that the yoga began to do her in ways she never anticipated. The mind, body and spiritual connection that yoga cultivates has helped Hannah through the ups and downs of life, both large and small. She regularly blogs at Balancing on Two Feet on topics such as yoga, mindfulness, eating disorder recovery and all those things people don’t like to talk about. She was trained at the RYT 200 through Laurel Hodory and is currently working towards becoming a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She teaches yoga throughout Central Ohio with GoYoga ,yogaServe, and also works as an Assistant Editor for the elephant journal!

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anonymous Jan 13, 2015 11:32am

This is really intresting.Why cant we love our own skin?Why cant we become what we are from inside.I am fade up wearing the mask.People should love us for what we are.

anonymous Aug 15, 2014 2:10pm

Muy bueno!

anonymous Apr 15, 2014 3:09am

oh big deal these women are still gorgeous!! Hardly the “everyday” woman! But of course it is a step in the right direction.

anonymous Apr 14, 2014 11:53pm

these are beautiful women, but still fairly far from the average….:-) some other really real bodies please, a wide range of them, and while we are at it, what is going on with the expressions on their face? I have seen those kinds of expressions before, now where could that have been? 🙂

anonymous Aug 7, 2012 6:41am

What a great article, so honest and real. Thanks again Kate for sharing this with us. I'll have to send you a pic of my eternally round belly. Not even when I was almost vegetarian (made it to pescetarian!), nor when I was doing 3 – 4 martial arts training sessions a week did I ever once have a flat belly. Now I'm older I've given myself permission to live in my body without constant comparisons. It's not easy but I'm taking it one day at a time 🙂

    anonymous Aug 7, 2012 6:44am

    Ooops sorry Hannah! Just realised this is your article here, not Kate's. I still love it!

anonymous Feb 27, 2012 4:07pm

[…] weak spots, hidden for so long, are now exposed for all to see. Naturally we all look to the bandaged place. It is what we do as Rumi so eloquently […]

anonymous Jan 21, 2012 11:30pm

[…] ago, I thought it was wonderful. I do think it’s wonderful that we make a point of looking at what people look like before Photoshop. But sometimes I feel like it’s become just another way we compete with each […]

anonymous Jan 19, 2012 2:25pm

[…] were worsening. Too much working out and not enough fuel. I have the unfortunate ability to ignore my body and not hear its sufferings. It was only after stepping out of my life long enough to come to some […]

anonymous Jan 12, 2012 9:04am

[…] if you insist in being yourself and staying unfotoshopped, don’t forget to remember (daily) where your real beauty comes […]

anonymous Jan 2, 2012 6:02am

[…] fighting against them is a waste of this precious time we are given on this earth. Rejoice in our bodies and our breath. If we can only start to look inside and see that light then our bodies will end up […]

anonymous Dec 27, 2011 6:18am

[…] week in my post on elephant journal a reader, Lucy, left a comment that started my mind racing: I immediately […]

anonymous Dec 27, 2011 5:52am

[…] Silent Eugenics? Written on December 27, 2011 by Hannah Siegle // Last week in my post on elephant journal a read, Lucy, left a comment started my mind racing: I immediately thought of Hitler, the Nazi who […]

anonymous Dec 27, 2011 2:51am

When I first saw this photo/article I skipped over it b/c I thought it was the typical perfect models etc. I saw it again tonight and looked closer and could not believe what I was seeing. Women with beautiful model faces and real bodies like my own. It doesn’t even look real. Isn’t that interesting? I’m so used to seeing perfect bodies on women in the media that it looks strange to see real ones. I applaud them. I applaud you.

anonymous Dec 26, 2011 2:30pm

[…] The Real Body Project: Expose the Truth. […]

anonymous Dec 25, 2011 8:13am

[…] The Real Body Project: Expose the Truth […]

anonymous Dec 25, 2011 7:09am

My own encouragement and follow up… http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/12/stepping-u

anonymous Dec 24, 2011 9:44pm

… admittedly i WANTED SO BAD to be a part of this because i believe in it with everything in me. i took 2 pictures of my belly to send and deleted both immediately thinking "these arent good" and almost didnt send anything. instead i took a third picture and decided "this is me. it's been me for awhile and will probably be me for a while longer" i do not like how my belly looks but love everything else about myself. then i thought as i was sending it : wow. my belly changes nothing of who i am. why be ashamed? im holding myself back feeling this way! if my friend were to tell me what i've just been thinking i would tell her every reason that she has to not be ashamed of her belly so why dont i follow my own advice? …. so i have…. stepped out of my own comfort zone and followed my own advice …. so THANK YOU hannah. thank you for making people THINK and step out of their comfort zones.

    anonymous Dec 25, 2011 7:08am

    SamBAM, thank YOU for sharing. I"d still love for you to take part, if and when you are ready!

anonymous Dec 24, 2011 6:53pm

From a man's perspective: Vulnerability is the sexiest thing a woman wears. Your belly doesn't matter.

    anonymous Dec 27, 2011 2:12am

    Rick should get thumbs up for this! ~ Waylon

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 4:06am

    I would say self-confidence is the sexiest thing a woman wears. Just because she's a woman doesn't make her vulnerable. Her confidence to be vulnerable is something totally different.

anonymous Dec 23, 2011 8:10pm

What a wonderful idea! I dislike my belly but have accepted that it is what it is and have wanted to find someone to take a picture of me nude with my large cat strategically placed. If I can get my boyfriend to take a photo of my tummy I will send it to you, better yet both of us belly to belly.

    anonymous Dec 24, 2011 5:42am

    Yes laurab! Please do! I'd love it! Hope to hear from you!

anonymous Dec 23, 2011 12:44pm

Lucy touched on something when she equated how much we despise ordinary in favor of the commercialized concept of what is beautiful. Eugenics are at work here in a different way and it is something we don’t even know we’re doing.

I see my dear friend struggling with her 16 year old now who is anorexic. She is so young but is already culturalized to where she feels she’s not beautiful enough. I wish we could turn off our Televisions, at least for your youngster’s sake.

    anonymous Dec 24, 2011 5:43am

    Amen Anita! Perhaps a silent type of Eugenics…you are touching on something here in a deeper subconscious level…hmmm.

anonymous Dec 23, 2011 5:59am

[…] […]

anonymous Dec 21, 2011 12:41am

Love it! I'm going to send you my photo – soon!!

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Kate Bartolotta Dec 20, 2011 8:28am

Love it! Just commented on your other blog, but will share here as well. After I took my photo, I immediately started criticizing & second guessing myself. Hmmm…some stretch marks from the babies…too soft…shouldn't have eaten that cookie after dinner…should have take the pic *after* yoga instead of before…should I retake it? Not send it? Etc.

I realized that is what we do to our "guts." We second guess, fear speaking our truth, talk ourselves out of things, criticize our inner voice. Here's to being "gutsy" and real with each other & with ourselves!

    anonymous Dec 21, 2011 5:29am

    Kate, yes It is so strange (and not) how we start to do that. When I took my own photo I did the same thing. As we have been conditioned to Photoshopped photos we forget what real looks like. A sad truth!

    Thanks for your support in all this! Keep the message out there and loud!

anonymous Dec 21, 2011 7:13pm

Lucy, thanks so much. Got your e-mail and will be getting back to you!!

anonymous Dec 21, 2011 7:14pm

Ray, thanks! Please do send! I want all type of bellies, hairy or bigger than we would want 🙂

anonymous Dec 27, 2011 2:11am

Ray, I'll send in my hairy tummy if you send in yours! ~ Waylon

anonymous Dec 28, 2011 5:53am

Waylon, you are on! I just sent my abundant, solid, hirsute monster out to Hannah with a few choice words about how being vegan does not have to mean skinny as a rail. I look forward to seeing what you've got!
Peace and Love,
Ray