Even though I do core-intensive yoga and Pilates five times a week — and even though I’ve never been pregnant — I have a small belly bump that won’t quite budge. The Belly won’t shrink despite the fact that I am a health food devotee and despise junk food – nor have I ever had a sweet tooth. It’s true: You can have strong abdominal muscles and a simultaneously poochy tummy. I remember asking my mom about my pooch in second grade, because I realized none of my friends had one.
“Your grandma has a pooch, and so do I,” she replied with a smile. “It’s passed on from generation to generation in our family.”
Oh great, I thought with a scowl. That’s something I really want to inherit. Why couldn’t I have inherited a flat supermodel stomach? I flipped through fashion magazines coveting flat-chested and flat-bellied bodies, always wishing for what I clearly did not have.
I struggled with trying to hide my pooch throughout my high school and college years with long, baggy sweaters. I even struggled with anorexia and exercise addiction in my twenties, hoping to starve my belly away. While my belly did get smaller during this time, it never shrunk completely — because my natural body type is to have a round, womanly belly, just like my maternal grandmother. When I realized that starving wasn’t getting me very far, I went the opposite way, binging on every food I could find in the pantry. The Belly swelled with bloat, making me despise it even more.
Time is the only thing that’s helped me accept my shape. Now that I’m 31, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that my pooch isn’t going anywhere (and it’s only going to get larger when I do start having babies). I’ve also learned to appreciate what I love about my body: my tiny waist. Now, rather than obsessing over my pooch, I pick clothing that crops nicely at the waist to accentuate my favorite asset. Think Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page 50s styles – you can be sexy with a tiny waist and a little bit of belly!
Instead of focusing on what we hate about our bodies, let’s celebrate our womanly shapes and stop self-shaming. Let’s pick one body part we love and focus our energy there – even if the body part you adore is your belly.
With this attitude, we can start a movement, one lovely lady at a time.