I’ve heard myself say it a hundred times: “If I could take this and move it back there, I would love my body.”
Naturally, I’m talking about taking my belly and relocating it to my booty—because we live in a culture that celebrates big booties.
Big bellies on the other hand, are not celebrated. Sometimes, they’re even shunned.
I’ve sung along to dozens of songs about big butts, and how much we love them. I have yet to hear a song about bellies. I can’t think of a single one.
I have, however, seen a million products created specifically to combat belly fat. I’ve seen the ab cruncher exercise things. I’ve seen all kinds of stretchy shapewear stuff that sucks it in so you don’t have to. And books—all about wheat bellies, baby bellies, and stuff like that. I’ve seen body wraps, and stretch mark creams, and juice fasts—all targeted toward minimizing our bellies.
I feel like we’ve made some progress toward body acceptance as a culture in recent years. We’re good with big butts, thick hips and thighs, large breasts. But, what about our bellies?
Being of the apple-shaped persuasion, I’ve really struggled with loving my body.
My butt-to-gut ratio does not lie within the preferred parameters—at any weight. I have narrow hips, thin legs, and a small booty. That hourglass figure society has decided is most desirable is not the figure I was born with. And, at any weight, I still have a belly.
I’m in the process of losing 100 pounds. When I began losing my weight, I had a 50-inch waist. I chose to lose the weight so I would be physically healthier, but also to improve my self-esteem. I didn’t feel well at 250 pounds, and I definitely didn’t feel good about myself.
Now, I love almost everything about my body. My legs are toned, my booty is tight, my shoulders are sculpted, and my arms are strong. I love my green eyes, my curly hair, my smile. But the belly, will I ever love her?
When I was really heavy, my big belly was firm. Now, it’s soft and squishy. My core is strong, but shrinking down from 50 inches has left behind loose skin from all the years of being stretched out. It’s like blowing up a balloon as big as it will go and then letting all the air out of it. At least, that’s how it feels. Deflated, wrinkled and deformed. Sometimes, I hate the saggy skin more than I hated the 50-inch waist.
In effort to gain a greater appreciation for my belly, I’ve started baring it more often. I walk my dog in workout leggings and a sports bra. I leave my torso exposed when I’m at home working. I want to see it. I want to feel it. I want to find a way to love it, or at the very least make peace with it.
I want to reach a place of self-acceptance that allows me to look at my squishy, stretched out belly without flinching. I want to love my body so completely that I never think about surgically altering my torso to make her fit within the unrealistic standards of beauty that I’m bombarded with by all the companies that depend on people like me feeling bad about myself.
I want to believe in my heart that I can embrace my body in all her imperfect glory.
I want to love my body in its entirety, as the sacred vessel that was made for the divine purpose of carrying my spirit through this lifetime. I want to look at her with only gratitude for the many years she has given me on this earth, and the wonderful experiences she has allowed me here.
The time has come to celebrate the feminine form in all its many shapes and sizes. To appreciate the beauty of the divine feminine spirit that lives in every apple, pear, and rectangle shaped body. Time to stop comparing ourselves to a standard of beauty that doesn’t exist in nature.
It’s time to stop seeing women’s bodies in sections, dissecting us into pieces to be objectified. We are more than booties, breasts, legs and bellies. We are whole, beautiful, magical beings, with smart brains and sweet souls the eye can’t even see.
The truth is, our silhouettes are probably the least interesting things about us. We are more than our body types, our dress sizes, or the number on the scale. We are more than the superficial standards we’ve learned to measure ourselves by. We are more than skin, flesh and bone.
It’s time for all my apple shaped sisters to join together in loving our bodies—bellies and all. There is no reason to hide out in one-piece swim suits and maxi dresses. Flaunt those curves, ladies. Embrace them, because they house the perfect goddess that is you.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Editor: Catherine Monkman