Google image search “belly” and you will find:
1) Perfectly flat, bikini-clad bellies and model men with six-packs.
2) People woefully grasping at or measuring their belly fat.
3) Pregnant bellies.
It’s no wonder that when I found a stretch mark on my belly (after a particularly delicious summer feasting on Afghan food at family parties) I had no idea what it was. How is a girl supposed to know what a real belly looks like when the only people willing to show them off look like swimsuit models?
Enter, The Tummy Project. These are real people with round bellies, stretch marks, scars, and stories about their beautiful, well-loved bellies.
In the same vein, The Belly Project shows women of all different ages, many during or after pregnancy, suggesting that the three month Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian body turn-around isn’t the norm.
Both projects have a simple aim: to share real bellies and love. I hope celebrations of real bodies like this get big. I hope they get huge!
I want more people to show off their beautiful bellies so a new generation of girls get to grow up knowing that their body doesn’t need to look like a bikini stock photo, and that being pregnant isn’t the only acceptable time to be fat. Don’t you?
Sara Omary is a semi-recent grad from UC Berkeley in Marine Science and Environmental Politics who loves very little more than she loves pizza and the company of her cats.
I like your project about bellies— I have scars from operations and the birth of my daughter and never show my belly.
Belly dancing may be something that celebrates big bellies, but please don’t tell me that the woman on the picture is beautiful or healthy. Her fact is pretty, her skin is smooth and her hair is gorgeous, but her body carries a huge excess of fat and garbage (because with this kind of shape, the intestines are full of, well, sorry, but crap that does not come out), she is likely to be borderline diabetic and having a higher than most chance for heart attack. She may well be fitter than most her size due to her dancing, but this is by nobody’s definition healthy or beautiful. 7
And please, do not say “well it is more beautiful than an anorexic teen with bones sticking out”, because that is just the other end of the scale (quite literally). This woman is not ugly, but with some weight loss, she would be an absolute stunner, and, once again, HEALTHIER. Fat is not healthy. This amount definitely isn’t.
Thanks for your comment, its a great illustration of the commonly held opinions that things like The Belly Project are trying to change. The first point I would make is that health is much more complicated than “fat people have diabetes.” Therefore its impossible to make any assumptions about this belly dancer’s health as people of all sizes can be perfectly healthy or have the health problems you listed due to genetics or their diet or a myriad of other factors. Its just not possible to know how healthy someone is just by looking at them, and more than that, one’s health is very personal and not really anyone else’s business (I wouldn’t want someone telling me off every time I decided not to go to the gym or ate an extra piece of candy – we’re all human).
The second thing I would ask is, why should she have to attain a certain size before she can be “an absolute stunner”? The people suffering from eating disorders you mentioned are often victims of this very same thinking – that they can achieve some magical weight where they are perfect. This is obviously untrue. What is really important is that we support women at any size in feeling they are worth much more than their weight. This belly dancer is an absolute stunner because she is happy and doing what she loves, and that is more than enough.
With this thinking it is much easier to love and care for the body that you’ve been given in whatever way works for you.
That belly dancer’s name is Mandanah. I’m a belly dancer (a big one, baby!!) and I know from my studies and from watching hours of her dance videos that she is a MONSTER of trained muscle and joint flexibity. Her stamina (you know, cardiovascular health?) is astonishing. She could run your judgy ass into the ground.