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:
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.