Our minds instantly conjure images of very pregnant women and stretch-mark, cellulite-ridden fat rolls. I’m not pregnant, but I do have some stretch marks, some cellulite, and some fat folds in my middle.
What is the difference, then, between the average American woman and me? I love my belly.
It all started when I was tugging at my fat in the mirror, frowning at myself for not being able to get rid of my lower abdominal fat, and my roommate saw me. “That’s there for a reason, you know.”
I furrowed my eyebrows even more, not computing what she was suggesting. “Female hormones cause fat to be stored there, specifically, because that’s where you carry your babies.”
It didn’t make me feel any better at the time, but I saw the logic in it. I eventually came to see the beauty in it, as well: what is more beautiful than creating life? My biology teacher later reminded me of the evolutionary importance of a woman’s gut, so my roommate actually knew what she was talking about, for once.
A few months later, I started dating a super sweet Southern guy. He came from a large and loving family, his dad was a preacher, he was a hard worker, and that Southern charm just blew me away. I was falling fast… and luckily, he was too.
It didn’t take too much cuddle time for him to notice that I cringed every time he touched my belly. He frowned at me and said, “That’s no fun at all. I love your stomach, and I wish you would let me touch it!”
I was puzzled beyond puzzlement.
Love my stomach? Why, I’d been hating it for far too long to undo all that effort. Besides, what was there to love?
He explained, “I like the way it’s soft, and it curves, just like your breasts and your hips and your thighs. To me, it’s just as much a part of a perfectly proportioned woman as cleavage is.” That man changed my entire life, by giving me a reason to love every part of my body.
Of course, there is more to the story of self-acceptance than one man who thinks you’re beautiful. Everyone finds acceptance along the line, I am sure, but that acceptance is so overshadowed by all the negativity bred by the media- Get rid of that belly fat! Lose 10 pounds in 10 days! Lose weight for a healthier, happier you! There is such a long story to be told about the media and the diet industry and how they are eating American women alive. For now, a crash course in logic, using the example of a large media myth:
Stress is directly proportional to heart disease. Stress is directly proportional to belly fat storage. Belly fat storage is directly proportional to heart disease. Somehow, the diet industry has jumped to the conclusion that belly fat itself causes heart disease. If this were the case, then the loss of said belly fat would decrease the risk of heart disease. No research has shown this to be true.
I find it more likely that belly fat and increases risk of heart disease are both products of stress, and that the media is steering us away from our natural tendency toward a healthy and curvy body using deceptive means in order to reel in huge profit for the diet industry.
“The diet-heart idea is the greatest scam in the history of medicine.” –George Mann
It’s a long road to self-acceptance, but by viewing yourself in a positive light and not listening to everything you hear or believing everything you read, you can grow to love every naturally beautiful inch of yourself.
* article contributed by Kristen Crain