Oh Jelly Belly!

I wish I could say that the title of this post referred to those lovely tasty treats but nope it refers to my, oh so lovely jelly belly, pot belly or whatever you want to call it. The other morning my daily devotional from this book included writing down ten things that I love about myself, yet as I wrote down the things I love about myself, all I could think about was the one thing I don’t love about myself…that pesky belly.

To be honest I have been battling this tummy situation since the birth of my son 19 years ago, I am what most people refer to as being small boned yet the belly is the bane of my existence. After his birth I had a small pooch, that if I sucked it in would give the illusion of a flat tummy, I spent a lot of time holding in my tummy, shit was uncomfortable but I hated the pooch. However the older I get the damn thing is just getting worse, first there was the pesky umbilical hernia that was surgically corrected last spring. The surgery did make the belly go down some but as I creep closer and closer to official middle age I have noticed her softening. Even weight loss didn’t make her go away…the belly is a die or ride kind of gal.

Oh, its so lovely how my daughter loves to grab my belly and tell me how much she loves the squishy belly, but really I don’t love it. In fact the other night in the midst of how shall we put this…some personal time with the Spousal Unit I found myself momentarily bothered by the belly. Yet that moment served in some ways as my clarion call. Why am I so bothered by the belly? I am more or less a healthy weight, in good health, sound mind, good relationships yet in a moment when my only thoughts should be damn, that’s good! All I can think about is the belly.

The more I thought about it, I realized I once again was a victim of the same programming that afflicts many women, where we think we must look a certain way. Its hard not to be afflicted on some level and if you have never had those moments well you are either lying or you are like one of the 5 women on planet Earth with an extraordinarily healthy sense of self, so sign up to be the next Oprah or something and tell us how you do it. But down here on planet insecurity, I think it’s hard for even the most confident and healthy woman not to have those moments. I know for me as much as I love clothes, I have grown ambivalent about shopping for clothes, why you ask? Well finding cute tops that fit me well is hard, real hard. Apparently clothing designers think that by assigning us these numbers they know all about our sizes but seriously when you are a small woman with a pot belly finding good fitting blouses is hard as fuck. I used to go up in size to minimize the lovely gut but ended up with tops that swallowed me whole and were falling off. I wear my right size and if I dare go out sans the Spanx and sucking in that gut, good friends including a friend’s Dad who is a physician assume we are expecting a new arrival. (Yes this happened recently…holy mortification!)

What I want to know is what happened to the days when women’s bodies dared to look like well women’s bodies and were actually celebrated. When a big rump, big hips and a soft feminine tummy were seen as the beautiful and gorgeous works of art that they are? Instead of the expectation of women having the waistlines of pre-teen boys? Women, why didn’t we say nope, we aren’t gonna do it? Instead even women who traditionally reveled in their larger bodies (cough, cough…women of color) now are being hit with these same messages.

Not sure what my next steps are but for me, I have way more important things to do than being bothered by the belly, I want instead to love her and embrace her and this amazing body that has born a couple of amazing human. I want clothes that represent the entire spectrum of body sizes. I want to know the next time my toes are being curled that my thoughts are only in that delicious moment and not on my belly.