Warning: naughty language ahead!
I recently “unliked” several popular women’s health oriented Facebook pages because they kept filling my news feed with things like “5 ways to get a flatter stomach,” “3 ways to get a bikini body fast” and “Top exercise for your trouble zone.”
I’ve been reading shit like that my whole life. Now I can no longer tolerate any messages telling me my body isn’t already acceptable as it is, or that tries to influence women into altering their already fabulous forms.
I started buying women’s health magazines in middle school and their message was clear: if my body did not match the edited pictures in their pages then I should read one of their many articles prescribing how to change these unsightly flaws.
I would watch, read and listen to anything that might give me a clue as to how I could finally change my horribly compiled body parts, so that I could finally be acceptably attractive and not an eye sore to those around me. I spent years criticizing my mid-section and it never did anything but make me feel worse about myself.
My poor belly lived its life in the shadows.
Finally, I realized my stomach didn’t actually have anything wrong with it. It just didn’t match with the ideals presented in the media, which are being upheld by the rest of us as the only suitable image of physical beauty.
Fuck that. I am finally allowing myself to love this temple in its totality. My stomach is squishy and fantastic. It sticks out after I eat, proudly displaying its latest accomplishment and carries a fabulous layer of love that rolls adorably when I sit. It is a damn good stomach and it works hard to keep me strong.
I love my belly, I love my body and I love the beautiful soul it houses.
I have well-earned muscles below, but my fingers still sink into the squishy coating covering it all.
When I release all external influence, I realized that it is wildly empowering to be both strong and soft. What an authentic body I have that so perfectly reflects the strong, soft heart it holds.
Bellies are not alone in getting a bad reputation. Thighs and butts are the other two “problem areas”I know many people have been taught to be sensitive to. The media floods us with messages on how to make our thighs thinner, butts tighter and eliminate our atrocious cellulite.
Seriously, folks, we need to stop this.
There are probably like a 100 people on earth over the age of 13 that don’t have cellulite, why are we so upset about having it? Why do we judge others for having it? Is it really as ugly as we have been fooled into believing?
One of my best friends has a very different body then me. I have envied her trim tummy since high school. But she has always felt her “trouble area”was her curvy hips and bottom. She always felt insulted and insecure when people pointed them out because she constantly craved a more linear, stick-shaped body and ached to shave off her roundness.
Now she is grateful for the strong legs, soft behind and luscious hips that create her womanly shape. I could not agree with her more. Her body is gorgeous.
But you know what? I have never seen one that isn’t. Bodies are inherently beautiful, and meant to be enjoyed by the souls that inhabit them.
Another friend of mine has recently become a mother and her stomach and stripes are a sign of pride. She doesn’t look at her belly and think about how it should be different. In her own words: “(my body) may not look like it did when I was 20, but these scars are reminders of the nine months I spent growing the most wonderful little man inside me.”
How incredible is it to be able to house and grow little humans until they are ready to join the world? You cannot tell me a six pack is any more attractive than a stomach that tells a story like that!
Stretch marks can come during pregnancy or puberty but why are these lines perceived as imperfections, when they are a sign of our bodies’ perseverance through strain? We should be grateful to them!
I really want people to start questioning the things they believe about how their bodies should look and about how the messages they are constantly observing have contributed to their feelings of inadequacy.
I imagine almost all of us have labeled a part of our body a “trouble area” or said to a friend “my belly/butt/thighs need work.”
When one person points out their body flaw, those in their company feel the urge to empathetically name their own problem region, in an effort to show their friend that they are not alone. This well-intended effort just perpetuates the belief that we aren’t good enough as a whole, and should all have a part of ourselves that we are incapable of loving.
Let’s stop shaming our bodies and start claiming them as the masterpieces the genuinely are. We can empower ourselves to be able to walk away from anything that tries to tell us we should change. And let’s stop talking negatively about our “trouble areas” so we can begin to celebrate them, because they are truly a part of who we are.
These are the bodies of real women, that I have the honor of knowing. I asked friends in my community to share their “trouble area”photos and a statement about why they love that part of themselves. Some are mothers, some are cancer survivors, some are twenty-five, but they all believe their body is beautiful; stretch marks, scars, rolls, cellulite and all.
Join us in recollecting all the parts of your body and loving yourself as a whole.
Editorial Apprentice: Sue Adair / Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Courtesy of the Author.