Of all our body parts, why do so many of us struggle with our tummies? They can make us feel so self-conscious. We want to cover it up, stick it down, tuck it in. Why?????
When you think about it, the reason we hate our stomachs / bellies / tummies is because we've been bombarded with a singular image of what 'beautiful' stomachs look like our whole lives.
Every Disney princess or protagonist had a flat tummy when we were growing up. Every doll, girls story book and photo-shopped magazine cover. Every model, music video and advert. From coffee to beds.
How are we expected to live in that ab-storm without comparing ourselves to that fake image (even though we tell ourselves they are not real!) so we come up short every time. Which is exactly what we're supposed to do #kerching
Which brings me to the body shaping-controlling-strap-it-down-can't-breathe underwear that encourages us to flatten and hide EVERYTHING that is naturally there.
Toning machines, core strengthening exercises, detoxing drinks and fat burning supplements.....we will keep spending our money on them because a flat stomach is one of THE most unattainable physiques for most of us.
A great question to ask yourself is if you woke up tomorrow in a body affirming World, where you never had to worry about your body shape or size, you never felt ashamed, what would you do differently? Would you wear different clothes? Would you feel more confident?
It's actually really messed up when you think about how influential our society is. So what CAN you do?
1. Actively work to undo your conditioned beliefs by changing the body types you see every day.
Ditch the people you follow who reinforce your fake, conditioned beliefs. Even friends and family. Anyone of makes you doubt yourself and makes you feel you are not good enough. Seriously. Do it!
Instead, seek out women you relate to. Body positive accounts and those trending self compassion will remind you there is NO shame in having a visible belly.2. Be kinder to yourself
You know how we prod, poke and squeeze the bits of our bodies we dislike? Yet we are gentle, soft and caring to other parts? It IS possible to re-wire and change how you speak about, think about and touch your tummy, if you give yourself the time and space to do so.
As Sofie Hagen (who wrote Happy Fat) and Megan Jayne Crabbe (who wrote Body Positive Power) suggest, interrupt intrusive thoughts with affirmations (out loud!), that "this is where your body wants to be right now", and "you're deciding to trust your body more than made-up rules that have only hurt you in the past"
3. Practice gratitude
The practice bit is KEY here. To unwire (unlearn) and re-wire (re-learn) 20, 30 or 40 plus years of distorted thinking, it's gonna take some time to get near to where you want to be.
Thank your body for carrying you through the day. Thank your stomach for the role it plays in helping you function. Remember that your stomach is only ever trying to perform its biological role in keeping you alive and well, it doesn't understand why it also needs to be completely flat or why you would hate yourself for how it looks. Your body is doing the best it can. It really doesn't deserve to be bullied.