secrets about my belly

These are the things my belly does now: it rolls over the top of my jeans when I sit down. I think things I never used to think, like, “Maybe I shouldn’t wear jeans, since I’m gonna be on the train a lot today.” And “Maybe I shouldn’t wear jeans, since I’m gonna be eating a lot today.”

It has a big, happy reaction to food, and it puffs itself proudly out, to celebrate, whenever it’s fed. I catch myself thinking new things, like, “Which dress can I wear to dinner that won’t emphasize my bellybutton?” and “Do I own any dresses that don’t emphasize my bellybutton?”

It doesn’t go flat, even when I lie on my back. It occurs to me that I used to be proud of it for going concave when I did that. I used to feel sort of smug about it. My belly used to look like the belly of a Victoria’s Secret Model. Even if my face was, um, not like the face of a Victoria’s Secret Model. If Victoria’s Secret had decided to do some just-bellow-the-boobs-to-the-hips shots for a new sexy campaign, I could’ve been a candidate. Now the whole putting-on-a-bikini thing gives me a newfound appreciation for winter. The cold, dead heart of winter.

Last night, as I was lying in bed, being normal, I caught myself sucking in my stomach.

No one was looking at me. Bear was reading something on his phone. I was reading something on my phone. We were just being a regular couple during the Age of Smartphones. He was probably not sucking his stomach in, but I definitely was. Why? Who knows? Culture. Society. Victoria’s Secret.

“Why are you sucking your stomach in?” I asked myself, embarrassed.

“Because I always do,” I said back to myself. (This was not out loud.)




“I guess.”

But seriously, that is messed up. Not the whole dialogue with myself, in my head. But the fact that I think, subconsciously, and also consciously, that I need to suck my stomach in all the time. EVEN WHEN I’M LYING IN BED READING ON MY PHONE AND NO ONE IS LOOKING AT ME.

What am I scared of? What do I think will happen if it sticks out?

Maybe, and this is a really strange theory, maybe, just maybe, I’m scared of liking it.

I know. Bizarre. But stay with me for a moment.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself, naked, in the hall mirror. Usually this is in the middle of the night, when the alternating temperatures (Bear turning on the AC because he’s always hot, me piling on the blankets, the AC shutting itself off after a while) have driven me to nudity. I am walking to the bathroom, my hair is sticking up in stupid and non-sexy ways, and for a muddled, confused, half-asleep second, I admire the feminine curve of my belly, the rounding of my hips, my full thighs. Nice, I think, blinking groggily. I am like a little fertility goddess who probably wears a golden and green silky gown by day, and a wreath of flowers in her hair.

(and all this would be my kingdom. source)

My belly adds a little something. A little FAT. A little extra sweetness.

Would it be so terrible if I liked the way I look at my heaviest weight?


Ah, there we go. Back to normal. I suck my stomach in as I enter the bathroom.

*  *   *

Unroast: Today I love the way my belly looks in long, tight tank tops.

P.S. I was looking for images to go with this post, and I searched “fertility goddess green gown” and got a photo of Christina Hendricks. Sigh. Do I really need the boobs to have the belly? I say no. The world says yes. But I say no.

P.P.S. I’m going ETDC’s very first giveaway soon! It’ll be a dress from Shabby Apple, and I’m currently agonizing over which one to pick. So stay tuned and get a cool dress for free!



Kate on December 1st 2011 in beauty, body

44 Responses to “secrets about my belly”

  1. janetha @ meals & moves responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    ah yes! i am the same as you! great post.

  2. Kate responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    I can always count on you, Janetha :-)

  3. Mandy responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I like it that your first, unconscious reaction was to appreciate your curves. Good instincts, sweetie!
    And, I find that a good way to deal with my Inner Critic is to realize she’s being ridiculous, roll my eyes, and laugh at her.

  4. Beauzeaux responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Check the birth of Venus. Nice rounded belly and NOT big breasts.

  5. Kayla responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    Okay, I swear I read the rest of the post and laughed when appropriate and nodded along in agreement when appropriate but mostly I just need to make sure you are aware that OHMYSTARS I LOVE SHABBY APPLE I AM SO STAYING TUNED EVEN THOUGH I’VE ALREADY BEEN STAYING IN TUNE FOR MONTHS.

  6. Sooz responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Love this post! I used to suck in my belly all the time. But after 4 kids, it no longer sucks in. When I try to suck it in…it just looks the same. Which makes me giggle to think of…how silly I am to try and suck something in that just won’t do it. Giggle giggle. Now I just look at my belly that sags and hangs and does not go in and I say to myself….”that is sooo NOT attractive….&….I just don’t care”. I love you trying to love yourself at your heaviest weight. You’re awesome. :)

  7. P Flooers responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    CHECK THIS OUT. Vintage gain weight ads:

    Look at the sad pitiful skinny girl gazing longingly at the curvy women. I can’t even be casual about that image, its such a mind *uck to me. There really was a time when skinny women were considered ugly in our culture.

    Secret confession: my husband laughs (good naturedly) at skinny women, feels sort of sorry for them. Because, well, curves are where its at. Women are curvy. Eat The Damn Fat.

  8. P Flooers responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 10:04 pm #

    Also, go watch “Singing In The Rain”. Look at Debbie Reynolds carefully. And she was in good physical shape, too — a professional dancer!

  9. Also Kate responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    I suck mine in too. All the time. When no one is looking. Why do we do this? I love that your sleepy, uninhibited self likes her curves.

    As an aside, I feel compelled as a member of the class of people who have large boobs to tell you that they’re way overrated. Deemed “must-haves” by current American society, sure, but my god, do they hurt. They’re constantly sore, already succumbing to the effects of gravity even though I’m only in my mid-20s, and they give me back pain. Buying bras is painful. Sports bras are available in select places, but they’re pricey. I have wanted smaller boobs since I was about 16. I guess it’s a grass-is-greener thing.

    But anyway. In case you needed something to appreciate about your boobs.

  10. Kristine responded on 01 Dec 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    i think it can look soft and nice, depending on the rest of you. if you have fuller hips it probably does. you should only try to lose weight if *you* like the way you look with less weight. it doesn’t sound like you really do, you just think that you should.

    i constantly suck my stomach in too. it’s because i did ballet for years as a kid and they kinda beat it into you. stand up straight, keep your stomach muscles tight. so i just naturally do that now :-p

  11. Val responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 12:03 am #

    It’s just life, Kate, and a dab of extra fat isn’t a big deal–it feels wonderful, like expensive velvet, not a bad thing at all.

    Bone feel like, well, bones, not plush or luxurious at all.

    I wrote this almost two years ago, you’ll get it.


    love, Val

  12. Liz S responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 12:41 am #

    I catch myself doing the same thing too, way too often. What is so judgmental about my bed? Will it never let me sleep there again if I don’t suck in?

  13. Jo responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 6:44 am #

    One of my favorite belly-related scenes from a movie is in Pulp Fiction where Fabienne and Butch are discussing pot bellies, and she says she doesn’t care what men find attractive, and that it sucks that what we like to feel and what we like to see are different things.

  14. Lynn responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 7:41 am #

    Kate, the main reason I love reading ETDC is that you always seem to encapsulate exactly how I feel. I do the same thing with my stomach, I suck it in all the time, even when there’s no one around to look at it. Nothing, NOTHING, will send me into a fit of body loathing like the sight on my tummy poking out of my jeans or my tummy rolls when I sit down. I’ve come to a place of reasonable peace and acceptance with basically every other area of my body that at one one time upset me, but my stomach remains unconquered territory. However, mixed in with all that angst, I do have the occasional moment of appreciation for it, the fertile, femenine, sexy tummy curve. Very love/hate….it’s complicated….excellent post :)

  15. mia responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 8:16 am #

    My 30-year-old son tells me that men consider a woman’s belly her third boob …

  16. jensketch responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Kate, stop fretting. Bear likes you just fine I’m sure. He’d like your if you gained 50 pounds too, I bet. GOOD Men aren’t that concerned with that sort of thing. They like soft women as well as thin women. I’m sure his interest is whether you are healthy.

    I’m about 40 pounds overweight… i.e. if I lost 40 pounds I’d be back within that range of what I’m supposed to weight for my height. I do cardio every day and eat about 1600 calories… but I don’t lose any weight. I thought I had some sort of problem. Diabetes, thyroid… I went to the doctor.

    My pulse was 60. My BP 120/70. Blood work came out perfect.

    I’m healthy as a horse… 40 pounds overweight. In fact, my body IS SO AWESOME that it works in perfect harmony WITH an extra 40 pounds like it doesn’t even notice it.

    Now that is beautiful ;) Besides, I can’t give up my 36DDs. I love them now that I have them. Absolutely love them :P And so does my husband ;)

  17. midnightsky responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:01 am #

    I remember that one time I had a concave stomach, when I got super-stressed in college and dropped 10 pounds. It was amazing. I want to go back to it. It made me feel lithe and sexy. Right now I’m puffy, and sadly, I can’t really like that. :-/

  18. Tempest responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:26 am #

    The curve of the belly is a beautiful thing. I lost a fair amount of weight (for me, 10 lbs is a lot) due to stress this past year, and what I was most worried about was losing the curves I finally achieved – and now I have found a happy balance – things fit right, but I still have the curve. Your body will continue to change and morph as you get older, it’s pretty amazing.

  19. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:57 am #

    It’s meeee!!! OK, I mean, if I grew my hair really, really long, and stood on a giant shell.


  20. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:58 am #

    That was a GORGEOUS post! Thank you so much for sharing!

  21. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I cracked up.

  22. San D responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    Now if only I could suck in some of my chins, then I might consider my stomach next!

  23. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    @San D

  24. Novice Wife responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    “and all this would be my kingdom” = laughed out loud. Thanks for that.

  25. Marina responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Jeans that fit and feel comfortable when I’m sitting for long periods of time are amaaaaaaazing. Also I look like a million bucks, as opposed to maybe a thousand bucks in jeans that are too small.

  26. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Well put.

  27. Another Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I used to have a little puffy belly. At the time I thought it was gross and I would suck it in all the time. Now I have a gigantic disgusting belly that I’m seriously working on losing, and I realize how cute that little puffy belly was back in the day. Why couldn’t I appreciate it when I had it? Appreciate it, Kate. You’re totally adorable.

  28. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    @Another Kate
    I don’t believe you that your belly is disgusting.

    Bear is always telling me that his belly is disgusting. And it’s not even close to true.

    In my experience, people aren’t good at judging their own bellies :-)

  29. Kate responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    @P Flooers
    Sorry I missed this earlier. Bear just gchatted me to talk about it, after reading your comment.

    Amazing stuff. And her arms!! It kinda made my day.

  30. Belen responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 6:53 pm #

    You probably already saw this, but here it is anyway:

    Asking a close male friend, one who was very scientifically-minded, once what it was about curves he liked so much, he responded with “It’s probably because I’m genetically predisposed to be attracted to what looks healthy.” Eh, maybe not so romantic, but quite powerful when you think about it.

  31. P Flooers responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    So Kate, did Bear say “word up to P. Daddy” because curvy women are so sexy? :)

    You know what super duper uber skinny women look like? Lollipops: thin bodies with big heads on top. Who wants to be a lollipop?

  32. Ceci responded on 02 Dec 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    I’m happy about nurturing positive self-image, but I can’t stand comments belittling skinny women. Surely, one can appreciate one’s body without demeaning others? Come on. How is that better than fat-shaming?

  33. P Flooers responded on 03 Dec 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Ceci, you are right and I apologize.

    I was being a bit cheeky. However, I do think very skinny women look like lollipops –in a literal way. Much as fat women look like cream puffs, I suppose. Maybe medium women look like…um…I’m trying to think of a curvy eclair… Funny, only very sweet foods come to mind.

    The truth is, this whole conversation is a bit cheeky. Because beauty can only come from within. Only. There is no other. Beauty, exactly and specifically, is as beauty does. Its a kind of math which is immutable. Your shape doesn’t matter. Your hair doesn’t matter. Your arms don’t matter. My weird feet don’t matter. Its true for you, Kate, me, everyone who reads this, my 11 year old daughter who is so achingly beautiful its almost hard to look at her yet she feels her cheeks are too fat. Its true for my 72 year old wrinkled mother. Its true of a grizzled rednecked dirty man I saw walking into Walmart last year. Beauty comes from within, only.

    Maybe we forget this basic truth because its the scarier proposition? Thinking about dieting (or not) is way easier than taking a solid square look at your soul or sitting quietly and contentedly with yourself, loving and accepting yourself as you are.

    That said, it is difficult to love yourself or anyone else, its difficult to even think straight, if you aren’t well nourished. Most Americans are overfed AND under nourished. Probably in physical and emotional ways. Hell, even in terms of our educational system. Irony in the land of plenty, eh?

  34. Liz responded on 03 Dec 2011 at 10:26 am #

    the weirdest thing is, when you get pregnant, you can’t suck in your belly at a certain point. after a lifetime of sucking in, even when it didn’t seem to make a difference a lot of the time, your belly seems to start fighting back and refusing. i’ll still catch my brain giving me little reminders to suck it in, but then i realize oh, wait, there’s a 4 pound baby in there whose living quarters are already a little cramped lol…

  35. Kate responded on 03 Dec 2011 at 11:37 am #

    @Ceci and P Flooers
    Phew. This turned out well. Ceci, thank you for bringing up the fact that it’s not OK to insult anyone for weight/appearance related reasons! P Flooers, thank you for your thoughtful, spot-on explanation and your willingness to apologize. I think you’re both right here— we shouldn’t make fun of anyone (OK, I’m guilty of this, I got called out on this blog for saying things about guys I dated who had acne and wore dorky clothes), and also, it’s almost impossible to avoid “being cheeky” when we’re being real (I try not to insult anyone, but sometimes it happens!). So, really, conversations like these, where we talk about why we’re using the language we’re using, are the best outcome. Yay!

  36. Kate responded on 03 Dec 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I never think about the pregnant perspective. I always forget. And then someone leaves a comment like this, and it sort of blows my mind. Like, “Oh yeah. There’s this state that women can be in that totally defies everything I’m talking about. And it’s really, really cool.” Thanks for this.
    And also, LOL :-) cutely put.

  37. Kayla Lane responded on 04 Dec 2011 at 11:57 am #

  38. B responded on 04 Dec 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    I used to suck in my belly in high school band class; sitting down, with no protection from a school desk, I felt exposed and ashamed. Once I became more serious about playing my instrument, I realized the harm that was coming from maintaining such a rigid, ridiculous posture. It hurt my back and increased stress! I stopped sucking in–playing my instrument became easier, my back stopped hurting, and that felt better than the belief that a sucked in belly might appear more beautiful.

    It is hard though, not to feel negative. I have found that buying more flattering styles of clothing helps a lot to make me feel more comfortable (not necessarily hiding the belly, but not enhancing it either).

  39. tirzahrene responded on 04 Dec 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    I love that scene in Pulp Fiction. It’s something I’ve kept coming back to for years, from when I first saw it when it would have Never, Never been okay for me to even admit that it would be okay with me to not be super skinny to now, when my stomach is never flat and it’s okay for me to want blueberry pancakes with several sausages.

  40. P Flooers responded on 04 Dec 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    @tirzahrene I went and watched that scene on youtube right after reading this post. I love it. “A little pot belly.”

  41. Yan responded on 04 Dec 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    In yoga, when you breathe out, the belly comes in. When you breathe in, the torso, belly included, is supposed to expand.

    And every single class, I have to re-learn that. Because we’ve been conditioned that belly is bad.

    Some days I’m good with the belly. Some days I’m not. I’m trying to accept both.

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