Body Love: T is for Tummy
It is weird. I actually avoided writing this post for a few days. I tried to find the words but I got upset every time I started thinking about it. It made me realize that this is a very sensitive topic for me. I have written about my boobs and the disgust I feel for them sometimes. But my tummy? I don’t even know where to start. It is probably the part of me that I dislike the most. I don’t like the word “hate” but my sentiments for my belly are very much encompassed by that term.
There are several reasons for my strong negative feelings towards my tummy. I think the one that is most obvious are societal expectations of what an attractive and desirable belly should look like. It has to be flat, muscular and not have an ounce of fat.
I know that how very unattainable that ideal is for most people. And I am definitely not the only person who struggles with even being able to envision a flat belly on myself. I have never had it. Even as a child, even when I was skinny. It is just not in the cards for me. But here I am, being bombarded with images of slim women in underwear, in swimwear, in tight-fitting clothes. And of course I get affected by it. I wear leggings, stocking, shape-underwear, to at least create an illusion of a flat stomach.
But does that mean I have been brain-washed by society and I am desperately trying to meet its expectations? Because I know that a flat stomach doesn’t mean that someone is necessarily healthy. Or attractive. But just like with other body parts, there are these widespread expectations of beauty and health, that seem very limiting and simply wrong. I am unsure about how to free myself from those expectations though, because other people adhere to those expectations and shame those with bigger bellies.
Are you Pregnant?
Which brings me to my next point. The one body part that I have been most bullied about in the past, is my tummy. I don’t even want to repeat the things that have been said but let’s just go with that those were really hurtful statements. But it is not only the bullying. There is this one thing that slim people seem to be doing to all overweight women: they assume that we are pregnant.
The amount of times that people just assume that I am pregnant and ask when I am expecting, if I want to rest my tired feet because of my condition, or even congratulate me for being pregnant, is overwhelming. And every time it hurts so so much! What do you say? Sorry, no, I am not pregnant, I am just fat and have a big belly? I tend to just swallow, smile, and walk away. Those assumptions are very hurtful and it is not like a misunderstanding. You assume that the only natural explanation for a fat tummy is pregnancy for women. It is unimaginable that a woman has a big belly because she is big? Nope, only a flat stomach means that you are in a normal state of being, apparently.
So what does a fat person do? Well, they hide their belly. And with clothes that is easy. I mentioned shape wear earlier. You can also wear wide skirts and dresses. I totally avoid trousers and jeans are the worst! They make your tummy look bigger than it is. But not only that. Jeans are made for slim people. I have never found a pair of jeans that actually worked for me. I mean, I would love a pair of black skinny jeans but all I can get tents are that are way too long and yes, make me look fatter. Designers barely think of fat people when thinking of clothing items.
Like with other body parts of mine I dislike, I have a lot of internalized shame because of societal expectations and the reactions of other people. I hate my tummy because it is not flat. I hate its shape because it is unwanted by others. And more than anything, I want to be accepted by others. With a tummy like I have, that seems almost impossible. But apart from what others think, I also hate my stomach because it is ugly to me. I hate its shape, I hate the huge scar I have from an appendix surgery as a kid, I hate the stretchmarks.
And no weightloss can fix those issues. When I was skinny, I had some hanging and empty skin instead, and the stretch marks were still very visible. And that is very defeating, because there is basically nothing that I can do to make my tummy look better. I am stuck with this terrible thing and I don’t know how to embrace it as something I can at least live with.
I have been able to work on some body love when it comes to other parts of my body. And I am certainly positive that with time, I can change some of the negative views I have about my body. I don’t think I will ever get there with my tummy though. It doesn’t help that my IBS sometimes makes my life terrible for months on end. My hatred for my tummy reaches new heights during those times. Who knows what the future will bring but I am not hopeful that my approach to my fat belly is ever going to change.
I am doing the A to Z challenge during the month of April (and apparently beginning of May). My theme is Body Love. So you will get 26 posts from me, following the alphabet, related to the topic body love. You can check out more about the to A to Z challenge by clicking on the banner. You can find a list of sexbloggers participating in the challenge on Mrs Fever’s site.