Authentic Voice Project: B is for Belly

Venus of Willendorf

The Authentic Voice Project: Week 2 (New Moon)

B is for Belly

I considered many “trigger” words for this post: Behavior, Body, Beauty, Blame, but I settled on Belly because… well, I have one.

Society says:

A woman’s belly should be flat; nay, concave. Low-rise and skinny jeans (practically the only type you can find if you don’t go in for the proverbial “mommy jean”) only work on such a non-belly. Otherwise you are in danger of committing the fashion no-no known as “muffin-top.” The popularity of Spanx and other forms of shape-wear (modern version of whale-bone corsets, and I contend, surely just as uncomfortable) tell the self-conscious woman that her natural curves should be tamed and restrained. Even the word belly makes us a little uncomfortable, we tend to think of bowls of jelly. The curvacious beauties of previous centuries are considered fat by today’s standards. A woman’s belly should be flat (lifeless?) – and called a stomach.

I say: Bellissimo! Lovely, beautiful, splendid, gorgeous, magnificent.

I never used to have a belly, but, of course, I thought I did. At 23 I had a boyfriend who used to make fun of my pot-belly, a feature I hadn’t considered I possessed until he said it. In fact, until after I left college I berated myself for being “too skinny.” I was one of those annoying people who could eat everything in sight and not gain a pound. Much to my embarrassment as a teenager, my hips bones stuck out when I lay down to sunbathe at the beach. And once, while riding in the front seat on a college friend’s lap (any cops reading this can ignore that part), he complained that I had the boniest ass ever! As a senior in college, a concerned classmate pulled me aside and asked me if I was anorexic. I was horrified!

But suddenly at the tender age of 23 I was faced with the realization that I was getting fat. Bear in mind, I was still wearing a size 5, and looking back at the photos from a Florida vacation that year, I was still about as curvy as a pencil. But because I was told I had a pot-belly, I believed it. An outside “authority” created my reality for me.

Almost two decades and two children later, I legitimately have a Belly. A nicely padded, well-earned “mommy belly.” And I claim this belly! I see it. I know it is there because I see with my own eyes and my own voice says it is there. I am my own authority on this personal matter. It is where my children lay curled in blissful warmth pulsing in rhythm to the dance of my blood. It is the “cauldron” where my womb lays hidden and protected, now empty, but churning with creative energy. It is one of the distinct features that makes a woman a woman, whether she has mothered children or not (because we are ALL creators!). Recall the rotund Venus of Willendorf (above) – now there’s a muffin-top to be proud of!

A couple of years ago I attended a belly-dancing festival. What impressed me the most (other than the young woman who could make every muscle in her flat stomach dance independently) was the utter lack of self-consciousness of the other moderately and well-bellied, naturally full-bodied women. Confidence in their own magnificence as real women. The radiating beauty of women who were completely at home in their bodies. Fully embodied. And they glowed with energy and pure joy as they reveled in the sensuality of themselves and the music. Bellissimio!

Belly: The “heart,” the soul, the foundation of a woman; the fount of her energy and love. A true pot -belly is one that is rounded, full, abundant with (potential) life and creativity.

Prompt:  I know this about myself because I know it to be the truth…


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