Still playing catch up with the backlog on these posts!! If you’re not aware of what this series is, it is a blogger collaboration started by my blogger friend Rebequita Rose to work through our ongoing struggles and triumphs with how we view our bodies.
So. About the belly.
In fact, until today, my belly is less wobbly than my arms or legs regardless of its size! Also I think I’m one of those who carries the weight in her thighs instead of the belly.
Oh but I have had quite the tumultuous relationship with my belly. Hands up who hasn’t? You can be skinny, in-betweenie, muscular or fat and You will still fuss about that damn belly!
Last year when I did a similar body positive series for my blogger friend Leah, I hit a speedbump at the post about the belly.
I just had not ever spoken in detail about my thoughts regarding it. I did not feel I was ready. It upset me a great deal because here I was trying to be body positive but I did Not feel that way about my belly. I have learnt from then that a time of turmoil is a time for a change of perspective.
So I worked through it. Staring at my midsection, scrutinising it. Wanting to scream at it. Because of the unwanted attention it has garnered me over the years.
I basically stopped taking buses and trains from 2009 because I was very self conscious of sitting down and having my belly and thighs stared at like they came from another galaxy. I’d hide behind a big bag at times, but when I didn’t, I squirmed. That was also when my panic attacks in public began to manifest. I would have to stagger across to the door and hurl myself out, crying and shaking.
Once in a while, a kind soul would place a hand on my shoulder to ask if I was okay. That really helped to be honest. To be seen in public struggling and then having a comforting hand to jolt me out of my anxiety.
I still do not travel by buses and trains. The social anxiety since then has intensified. But I will leave that for another post to talk about.
My tummy troubles actually started young with intense gastritis and stomach aches. I now know that I owe that to anxiety from living in an unpredictable abusive household and from Pcos. So I was a size 6, working my ass off in the gym but my tummy made me look like I was in my first trimester. It infuriated me.
Since then, the tummy troubles have only gotten worse. I am unable to eat foods that I love like pasta, pizza, noodles, cereal, spicy Indian food, just spicy food in general. If I happen to have anything remotely glazed with too much icing or butter, I become nauseous. I absolutely cannot have deep fried or oily foods.
I remember a scene from the bad sequel of Miss Congeniality where Regina King’s character confides to Sandy (yeah we’re on a nickname basis Sandra and I) of the amount of things she is allergic to. Sandra said “No wonder you’re so angry all the time”.
That made so much sense. It made me realise that my stomach was also constantly knotted up because I felt such hostility towards my “Bubble Girl” way of life.
The fat acceptance and body positive movement has Really opened my mind up to how to view my perceived flaws. So many women wearing bikinis, fatkinis, crop tops, bodycon dresses, bodysuits and loving it.
Last year was when learnt of the term VBO – Visible Belly Outline.
Also, I went super scientific and checked out just how many women of the world actually have flawless bellies. Then I checked out just how many women had bellies like mine. The consensus was, 90% of the bellies were not perfect and most of these women had issues with their bellies.
Which is ridiculous given that You are the majority, therefore the idea of how a belly Should look like should not even come up as an issue! But it does.
If we were in another era, Botticelli would love us. The roundness of a woman’s belly, her womb, the curvature.
But no. Today, a belly like mine is used as a fat shaming meme or worse still as one of those anonymous headless shots for articles talking about the rise of obesity. Then my skinny or slim friends tug at their bellies after a meal and complain about their food baby. Women who are Pregnant are called FAT. Women who do not lose weight quickly enough post-pregnancy are FAT and failures.
My distended belly with God knows what cooking in there is hated on. I did not ask for Pcos just as much as I did not ask for anxiety. I did not ask for a stomach prone to allergies.
And EVEN if I had no health issues surrounding the belly and was bellylicious, Would that really be a calamity? Do we really need the concern trolls to keep policing our body parts as they deem fit?
So after 2 months of really mulling over the belly post for Leah’s body positive workshop, I decided I was ready. So I bared my belly on Instagram for all to see.
This is my belly.
It is a part of me that I have hidden for years beneath layers of clothing, shape wear and mad exercise routines. I have seen my fellow plus size sisters show their beautiful bellies off this summer in bikinis/fatkinis. I have friends who proudly declare “This is my belly. So What”
This makes me really vulnerable because I have cried and run home when people stared at my tummy, when I was heading out to meet friends.
I have wanted to stab the belly. I have punched it numerous times in anger. I worked my butt off trying to flatten it.
Listen, you can unfollow me if this is too much for you. I am Done caring about what others think. I am so done with hiding. This is my round, tiger-striped imperfect belly. My waist is hidden here but I love it’s imperfection.
I have been training myself to look into the mirror at the belly instead of averting my gaze.
I will not let your discomfort at seeing my fat body make me feel bad about myself anymore.
I ACCEPT MY BODY.”
Surprisingly, people reached out to me and instead of unfollowing me, they applauded. I did not see that coming.
Aside from my own soul searching, I would not have reached that important milestone had it not been for body positive heroes in my life. I have a small circle of loved ones in a body positive circle and they are of all sizes. They really make a hell of a difference. I love you guys. You know who you are 💛
From a spiritual standpoint, the belly symbolises fertility.
Set aside the shaming and problematic ways of looking at a belly, and just think of how miraculous it is that We are capable of creating life.
I had a short video on my Facebook page saying All Women are Wonder Women because we shed every month, bleed for days and regenerate again. We can carry a child within us for 9 months. For those who want to be with child of course.
When I went to the gynae last week, I saw all these new mothers and mothers to be. Stroking their infants faces, stroking their pregnant bellies. I looked down at my distended belly and stroked it, thinking of how much I would love to be in their place, despite the difficulties I will face because of Pcos and endometriosis and other coexisting health complications.
I have come a long way from when I stressed over writing that post last year.
I did a series of pictures for this post as well (Pssst I know this is a long post, bear with me!).
Thanks to the belly flip flopping unhappily, I have been unable to swim this show off this beauty of a fatkini. Although you did see a peek of it in my Matrix inspired post 😉
So here goes.
Bikini top and bottom: Forever 21 Plus
My Belly is not flat.
It is round, It is striped and It is visible.
In the meantime, I’m going to rock a VBO, crop tops, bikinis because I Want To.
Do not call me brave. I am not brave for wearing these outfits. I’ve just always wanted to dress to impress myself so that’s how I am living it up now.
I dress for Me. I accept my body for Me. It is a hard work in progress I tell you. But it is worth it.
So to all my bellylicious brothers and sisters out there, drop the hate. You might not love your body but you can sure learn to be cool with it. I mean, have you seen how beautiful bellies look in belly dancing costumes regardless of size? Why do you think it’s considered so sensual?
I like muffins and muffin tops are the tastiest are they not? Cupcakes are delicious too.
This is not okay. Because girls are starving themselves to death to get a slimmer tummy. Girls are taking excessive amounts of laxatives that will kill their stomach lining. Girls are purging food and hurting their vital organs (MOST of which are based in the belly – kidneys, pancreas, liver, intestines).
So you tell me. Why are we allowing society to tell us how to look when clearly, they have a distorted image of how a woman’s body should look like?
I like Nicki Minaj. But no we are not going to look like her just because it’s convenient to have ample breasts and a sizeable derrière to objectify. Her body is NOT an aspiration I want you to have.
Real women have Real bodies and we cannot be apologetic about the fact that we have bellies. If that’s the case then men should apologise for having the 5pm stubble.
I did something beautiful last year. I made a cast out of my belly for International Women’s Day. Women of all shapes did the same. A lot of women enjoy doing this when they are pregnant to commemorate the pregnancy. But my friend and fellow activist Dana Lam whom I met through the local women’s organisation AWARE came up with a beautiful project called When Bellies Speak in 2014 and continued the tradition this year for IWD.
I wish I had taken a picture of my own cast but it totally slipped my mind! I participated in the 2014 IWD. This year, my health has really set me back with sitting out so many events. Anyway, xheck out how we celebrated our belly casts
“It seeks to share in the joy of making and invites you to re-evaluate the part of the body that is mostly disdained. Your fleshy belly is transformed into an aesthetic object in a matter of minutes. The belly speaks as a metaphor for your life and riches. The casts are used for an installation on 8 March in honour of each of our lives and the lives of women.”
I leave you here with what has been an extremely lengthy post (Sorry!!) and I hope that you look down at the bellylicious-ness you possess with more wonder and awe than shame or disdain.
Do check out my fellow Unconditional Body Beautiful‘s posts on their blogs:
Unconditional body beautiful bloggers :
Sending you all my love,
xxxo Aarti Olivia