It’s Your BODY, Baby!

Published January 10, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yeah I know, it’s been some time since my last post.  I have been sick this week just gone, swinging between wild nausea, thumping headaches and this horrible lack of energy thing.  Summer gets me every year for a bit, and this week seems to be it.  So of course I have some blogging to catch up on.

A couple of days ago I came across this post on Tumblr.  It’s from The Tummy Project, which aims to showcase all forms of tummies, regardless of shape, size, skin type, colour, hair or lack of hair.  An excellent body positive project.  But this post really worried me.  I’ll reproduce it here:

tummy

My tummy is on its way to being what my family calls “gobby fat.” See the pooch at the bottom, under my belly button? That will be gobby fat in ten or twenty years, maybe. All of the women in my family have big middles, and they just laugh about it and make jokes but I know they hate it and it makes them feel awful. I am tired of being scared of this happening to me. I am also scared that someone will know this is me in this picture, because I am the funny, confident girl who is always telling other women to chin up and be proud of their bodies and love themselves. And they’ll know that I am a fraud. But I don’t know what to do about any of it. I just have this tummy. I always have. At every size, at every age, the belly has been.

I’m still shocked when I see that photo and read the accompanying post.  This young woman thinks her tummy is fat??  What the HELL are we teaching young people if they could possibly think that they are fat when they are shaped like this?

That “pooch” below her belly button.  That is supposed to be there, it is her bloody internal organs!

Body image is so fucked up in Western culture that we seem to be thinking that our bellies MUST be concave or at least flat, that they cannot have any curves or roundness to them at all.  Not only is it an impossible goal for a healthy body to obtain, it’s also not even true in the pictures we see of models and actresses that do have stomachs like that.  Either they’re digitally altered so that it’s not there, or they do things like starve themselves the day before a shoot so that they don’t have a “food baby” or a bump from where the food and internal organs naturally sit.

What disturbs me even more from the post is that this young woman is being taught by the women in her family that a) her body is something to be loathed, b) to accept people laughing and making jokes about her body and c) that they can’t express their feelings about their bodies.  If they hate their bodies so much, why aren’t they helping this young person in their lives who HAS a slim body in not hating hers?

There are some inroads being made into body positivity these days, but we have so far to go that we need to really work with the young.  Right from tiny children, we need to be teaching kids and everyone above that our bodies are marvellous things.  Sure, they come in all different shapes and sizes, some of which are slim and commercially “beautiful”, but all shapes and sizes are beautiful in their own way.

Not to mention that our bodies are INCREDIBLE!  I mean, think about your hand just for five minutes.  Do some things with it – pick something up, wave, point, toss something in the air and catch it, click your fingers.  Isn’t it incredible that in a matter of seconds we can command our hand, and the rest of our bodies, to do all these things.  In the blink of an eye, our brains and our bodies work together to propel us through our daily lives and we  never even give that any thought.  How often do you thank your body for doing the work it does every day.

That’s just the stuff we can control.  What about all the things our bodies do on their own?  Like breathing, processing food and water, self cleaning, thinking, growing, repairing itself (the only part of the human body that can’t repair itself are the teeth!) and a myriad of things we don’t know about.  How awesome is that?

Instead of realising this, we focus on every single thing that we consider “flaws”, even those these things usually are just features that are unique to ourselves.  The next time you think of your body’s flaws, try and see them as a feature, rather than a flaw.  These are the things that make you, YOU.

Our bodies are not a bunch of “parts” for us to critique and obsess over.  They’re an amazing system and thing of wonder that we hardly even fathom the complexity of.

We need to take care of them, be kind to them, nourish them, move them and appreciate them.  Love your body, no matter what it’s shape, size or what it does and doesn’t do.  Love it for what it is, and what it does for you.

6 comments on “It’s Your BODY, Baby!

  • A very empowering post, nicely written. My Mother is anorexic and I am the dreaded “death fat,” you couldn’t have to further ends of the spectrum if you tried, but I still think she’s beautiful. I thought she was at a size 14(UK, which she thought was fat, yet here I am at 22/24UK) and I still do while she’s at 2/4UK (so small she can’t buy clothes.)
    If this can happen to a 40+ year old woman then what are we doing to our kids? Boys and girls, you need to learn that you are beautiful. Eat when you’re HUNGRY and eat what you DESIRE. Chances are, your body will find its own shape and weight in time, and when it does, it’s not wrong. There is no wrong shape, no over weight (that would imply there’s a correct weight,) but you are you shaped. An individual.

  • Nicely said Pyratus. I hope your Mum can find peace with her body before too much longer. I know several women who are anorexic (and other eating disorders – I in fact was in my 30’s before I started to heal) in their adult years, not just young women. It’s heart-breaking to see that the roller-coaster continues to go on.

  • I’ve known I’ve had pcos for about 7 years now. I was wondering if anyone else felt weird about their body because of being female in a culture sick with misogyny? I wondered if this effected the way they saw their pcos? I felt like doctors and even sex education in school were misogynistic in the way they made girls feel like their bodies were “bad” if they chose to have sex or get pregnant as teens. These discussions scared me a lot and I wondered sometimes about the idea of (don’t laugh too hard) immaculate conception. Because I hadn’t had sex but I missed my periods for months. I was never comfortable talking to anyone about my “female problems” as a girl, so I didn’t get help until I was well into my 20s and experiencing all the pcos symptoms. Sometimes I wonder, again probably naively, if my pcos was sort of related to the misogyny and my reaction to it. I know some women brush it off, some don’t acknowledge it, some don’t experience it maybe. But for me, misogyny in my culture really made me fear my body and made me fearful of seeking help with my condition. That’s no longer the case, but I hope young girls and women will find help more readily and confidently now that the internet is available. I wish I’d had such a resource as a girl. Just wondered if anyone else went through a similar struggle with fear of being female, not just with having pcos, due to cultural influences and “sex education?”

    • Laura, I think as females, anything to do with our bodies, sexuality, femininity etc is heavily influenced with a double standard about males and females. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s misogyny, because in many cases it’s women who are doing as much damage to themselves as men are, but it’s deeply ingrained and permeates all of society. I think part of the realisation of body image is that so much of it is tied to feminism, and we can’t really untangle the two. Get what I mean?

  • As much as I love the Tummy Project in theory, there have been a few problematic posts of people with not-very-big stomachs posting about how fat they are and how they are going on a diet. While overall it’s an empowering concept, I think a few people have used it poorly. I also entertain the idea that people like this post so they can see a slew up “but your tummy isn’t fat!!!!” replies. Like compliment fishing.

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