“Stomach stomach sticking out, how I want to cut you out”
– start of a journal entry, circa 1994
Flip through family pictures and you’ll see I rocked a belly from the moment I was born. Pictures of me jumping into a pool at Disney World when I was six, round little tummy leading the way. Frog jumping contest, t-shirt snug against me as I whack the mat behind my bullfrog. Year after year, picture after picture. That tummy stands out to me like a beacon.
I blame the monokini.
Not the most flattering of bathing suits but, that summer I was determined to get one. I was 11 years old, desperate to be a teenager. Mom wouldn’t let me wear a bikini but she compromised on the monokini. This was going to launch me into teendom.
Soft blue background, colorful abstract flowers, halter neck. Perfection on a hanger. This was it.
I put it on. I turned to the mirror. In my head, I had pictured something close to what I saw in the magazines. Facing me was roundness, squishiness, and a series of rolls.
Nothing like what I saw in the magazines.
The image in the mirror burned into my brain. I cried. I left the suit.
From that moment, I did everything I could to hide that awful stomach. I changed how I dressed. Loose tops and dresses – nothing that would give a hint to what I had underneath. If my belly wasn’t perfectly flat, it was disgusting.
Occasionally, I dabbled in accepting my rounded tummy. I bought a bikini at ValueCity when I was fifteen. I was horribly sick that summer, must have dropped twenty pounds because I couldn’t eat anything.
I’d try the bikini on at night, hidden in my room, and check to see if my stomach was flat enough to wear it.
It never was, even when I could see my hip bones.
My tummy became the lightning rod for everything that was wrong. My moods depended on whether or not I felt bloated, how much my stomach poked out in my jeans, if I could suck it in enough to see my ribs. I’d rage at it, directing so much nastiness that I’m surprised it didn’t get up and leave.
Hated it, tolerated it, hated it. Never any positive thoughts towards my belly.
One day, after crying in the closet because my jeans were a little snug, I was done. Inches of muscle and fat were not the boss of me.
I owed my stomach years of lost love. To accept it like I would an old friend; loving all the eccentricities and flaws.
It’s a character and it’s beautiful.
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What I see: Drive, physical strength, and endurance.
What I see: a woman starting a new chapter of bringing light and laughter to the world.
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