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I have a soft, round, and extremely cute belly and believe it or not, I’ve had many people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) ask if I was pregnant. Look! Just because my stomach sticks out, doesn’t mean I am pregnant!
It’s not easy embracing The Belly in an anti-belly world! And let’s face it, the media fuels these anti-belly sentiments.

The mixed messages I receive from my friends and family correspond to the mixed messages the media sends out. The media I’m referring to is made up of several magazines and gossip columns (both on the web and on newsstands) that consider it their civic duty to disclose celebrity body fluctuations on an inch-by-inch basis. New Nicole Kidman Belly.jpg

Remember the Reese Witherspoon pregnancy scandal? Editors hoped to sell their magazines by using a few manipulated pictures of Reese with a bump so they could be the first to expose that Reese is preggars! It might be news to them and perhaps to us as well, but it’s not so newsworthy to our bodies. To our dismay, our weight-conscious society doesn’t view pregnancy as beautiful, but rather as a condition that adds unwanted pounds. Consequently, when someone is mistaken as pregnant, it’s usually taken as an insult. We now know Reese wasn’t expecting a third child. However, the media hoped she was, because it’s unacceptable for a top-ranking celebrity and America’s sweetheart to carry anything but a washboard stomach!
Yet this is the same media that shockingly reveals (or are they reveling in?) celebrities under a hundred pounds. Gossip columns are as much about body-fat content as stars’ activities. Us, People, InTouch, Star, etc. take turns obsessing over which celebrities are rail-thin (ahem, see this week’s People magazine) and which could afford to shed a few pounds. As readers, we are expected to reject both body types. However, we are never given any indication of what they think a healthy body should look like. Their (unhealthy) obsession with weight results in us obsessing and dangerously criticizing our weight. We wonder: if Nicole Kidman’s body doesn’t size up, how can mine?
SmallInTouch9-19-05a.jpg SmallLife&StyleNov05a.jpg

Let’s bring this back to The Belly. It’s no wonder I’ve had prospective crushes stop me in the midst of conversation to ask whether or not I am expecting. Though that question is never justified, it is especially unwelcome after the crush in question has already bought me a drink! Just because celebrities (or 0.25 percent of the world’s population if that) have washboard stomachs, doesn’t mean women who don’t are pregnant.

It’s taken me a long time to accept The Belly. But after years of belly-hating, I had to put things in perspective. After all, how long can I hate something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life?


12 thoughts on “Re-Belly-on

  1. I’d like to add something to the newspaper clipping “Nicole looks pregnant”:
    “Oh no she doesn’t”
    She doesn’t look in the least bit pregnant – her belly is really small – so small I don’t know any women with a belly that small.

    Bellies are beautiful!

  2. Another annoying thing about tabloid mags and TV shows obsessing over whether women are pregnant is the horribly obnoxious phrase “baby bump.” I’m not sure why, but it creeps me out. This post also makes me think of an acquaintance of mine who, in the early stages of her pregnancy, took to wearing a “Yep, I’m Pregnant” t-shirt so that people wouldn’t think she was overweight. Something is seriously wrong here…

  3. yay for bellies…i was mistaken three times as pregnant before i was pregnant. these people were insistent that i had to be pregnant…hey, i just had a big lunch and i’m bloated or i was standing with poor posture. get over it, people! i have a belly. i don’t have the hour glass figure to keep my organs inside my pelvis – who cares! we’re all made differently and can’t do much about it! no amount of crunches, etc… will ever get me a washboard stomach.

  4. Re-belly-on! I love it! A.J., did you come up with that one? Girl, you are a genius! I have had several people ask me if I am pregnant due to my belly; so annoying. I think bellies are cute!

  5. Hmm… I’m not super thin by any means, and have a little bit of a belly, and for the most part I think what your blog has to say is at least thought provoking… but…

    If that many people are asking if you’re pregnant, maybe you’re just overweight. There’s a fine line between feeling confident, and not being willing to admit that you’re just too fat. Obviously you struggle with not being a ” thin enough” woman, but a backlash that takes you so far as to say that being overweight is “cute” (Is having so much fat on your stomach that people think you’re preggers really cute?) is just too far.

  6. The “belly” is probably as much a feature of the feminine figure as breasts–we have organs underneath that guys just don’t have! So to recognize that you have better things to do with your life–and exercise regimen–than having the life goal of a washboard stomach is empowering and healthy. I think many women are asked if they’re pregnant not because they’re overweight, but because of the skewed size aesthetic we have. If you are overweight and it’s a problem health-wise, I am sure you already know it and don’t need other’s judgments at your assumed lack of self-control or discipline (as if we don’t have predispositions to our body shape and size!); and, too many women think they’re fat when they’re not, and they’re actually making themselves unhealthy trying to look thin.
    And, the fact that the topic of pregnant bellies immediately brings up an obsession with fatness is concerning. Why do people ask if you’re pregnant as if being pregnant is a disease? Are looks really that important?

  7. If you work out regularly and are cardiovascularly fit, you will have a washboard stomach because you gain muscle and lose fat, and many people do (not just .25%; keep deluding yourself). Don’t make excuses just because you won’t get off you butt and do work and complain about those of us who do and have the bodies y’all envy.

    Bellies are gross

  8. S, I hope I’m not wrong to assume this, but this forum is not about bashing other women because they have a belly, it’s about the negative aspects of trying to keep up a “perfect” body image. The media is extremely responsible for young women’s and girls unrealistic expectations of what they SHOULD look like, and that’s sad, and needs to stop! No one is saying that because perfection is unrealistic we should all sit around and be unhealthy and overweight. But emphasis on a healthy, NORMAL body needs to be appreciated. Thanks!!:)

  9. Actually the comments about working out and bellies are a little silly. Even super fit, toned women have a little bulge in the centre of their belly that sticks out. women just don’t have flat stomachs. some have a fat bulge. people who work out regularly like S mentioned have muscle bulge. but it’s still not a flat stomach and it’s still going to stick out a bit like the nicole’s does in the picture. so the whole flat stomach ideal is silly and impossible.

    plus, just because you’re cardiovascularly fit and perfectly healthy doesn’t mean you have no body fat.

  10. I think I hate my belly more than any other part on my body but after reading Eve Ensler’s “The Good Body” I’m trying so hard to love mine. And S…it’s your attitude that’s “gross” not bellies or “washboard abs” that “we all so dearly envy”.

  11. Wow. I’ve gone from being anorexic in college to overweight and perimenopausal. I am noticing the female competitiveness and nastiness in the one comment about laziness and gross bellies, etc. You’ve been brainwashed, Genna, I hear it in your reaction. If you want to work out and be in very good shape, that’s your choice, and it can certainly contribute to prevention of bone loss and other health issues we women face. Goddesses come in every shape, size, color and body part shape and contour, but they are still goddesses, mirror reflections of the divine feminine principal, and to be respected and honored and accepted, including ourselves. I hear you bashing another woman for trying to accept herself as she is. You offer “advice” as to why she is being asked if she’s pregnant, and it is not her issue, it is the issue of the inappropriate people asking. You end up criticizing someone you don’t know, have never seen and it hurts all women when that happens. I know women who are always in shape, who wouldn’t go out of the house unless their hair is “done” and their “face” on. That’s unhealthy. If the house caught fire, they’d be in the bathroom trying to put on makeup before they had to run out, I think. I’ve met women who paid tens of thousands of dollars for surgery, were addicted to surgery, who hated themselves no matter what they had “fixed”. Working out will not change your negativity toward your own body, toward “bellies”, and toward women in general. Wake up, smell the coffee burning, as Ann Landers used to say, and do something about your mindset before it ruins your life and relationships with everyone.
    Not every woman who likes to look nice is unhealthy, but hating yourself or hating women with bellies isn’t healthy, either. What are you going to do if you ever have a pregnancy, Genna? How will you deal with having a belly that’s out of your control? Pregnancy isn’t a weight issue or a disease, the medical establishment insisting that births must only take place in hospitals with a million dollars of equipment hooked up to the mother perpetuate that “birth as a medical emergency, pregnancy as disease”myth, too. This leads to more insanely unbalanced attitudes among people toward women and such natural events as breast feeding, birth, round bellies, pregnant bellies….Like it or not, we’re women, not men, not ads in magazines, not just breasts and bellies, we’re human. I had to accept my extremely sensitive skin early on and realize that hair products and cosmetics just result in ugly rashes, I go out the door in wet clean hair and little if any makeup because I accepted those “body parts” as they were early on…it took much longer for me to realize that I am big, my grandmothers and great grandmothers on my father’s side of the family were big, and even when I’m in “skinny sizes” (for me, a 16) I’m still big. Body image and picking and choosing parts we don’t like and parts we think we’ll keep is just another symptom of the unhealthy attitudes of our society, and sometimes I’m sad – and frightened for this generation of girls – when I realize I went through all this since 25 years ago and more and we seem to not have moved along on it at all.

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