Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Our Pouch Tummy Insecurities Stem from the Patriarchy (A Hot Take)

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Geneseo chapter.

CW: body image (it comes out positive though!)


Do you ever feel super great about yourself in a crop top outfit when you first put it on, but then look in the mirror only to find your stomach is sticking out more than you thought? Then, despite yourself, you suddenly get insecure and put on a longer shirt?


Do you ever put on a comfortable pair of leggings on your busiest day and have to choose whether or not to wear them pulled over your belly in order to encase a little roll of tummy?


Or what about those times when you want to wear a really cute pair of jeans but are on your period so your bloating makes your pouch tummy stick out even more from your body, causing the ever relatable but inherently nerve-wracking “unbutton your pants because you need to breathe” situation?


Me too, sis. Me too.


Society is in this weird spot where there are two body types that receive universal glorification: the skinny model-type with a flat tummy and no stretch marks, and the curvy girl who is bigger and owns it with such confidence. I love that larger bodies are becoming more socially acceptable! However, as a person who is generally thinner but has a pouched tummy and bigger thighs, I have found that I feel caught in the middle, not being able to claim my as being beautiful because I’m not the skinny queen or the big and beautiful queen. 


I always idolize my friends and pictures of women and female-presenting people on the internet who have flat stomachs and wonder how the heck they get that to happen. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do feel hella sexy in a bikini or a crop top, but lately I’ve been getting more and more insecure about my pouch tummy specifically.


Photo by Brian on Unsplash (source)


Why does society value either end of the body size spectrum? I blame the patriarchy, like all edgy Internet fiends think feminists do. Skinny female bodies have always been praised by society because they’re seen as beautiful and sexy, especially when depicted in advertising and pornography. Recently, larger bodies have been embraced under the guise that “real women have curves,” and society has been praising women that have big butts, thighs and boobs. However, women without flat stomachs aren’t seen as equally sexy for whatever reason. And, off of that, why should what is socially acceptable be what is deemed sexy or beautiful in the first place? The answer: society is shaped by the sexist traditions that have pervaded it for ages, and will continue down this path if people aren’t actively going against that narrative.


We as women and female-presenting people can and should work on embracing all of our bodies, including the skinny-fat ones like mine and all of our pouch tummies. Aerie is an amazing company that features models of all body types, not just the strict archetypes of “super-skinny model” or “plus-sized model who isn’t even that plus-sized.”


(source) – #notsponsored; just sharing an awesome advertising campaign that shows a diverse array of body types!


Getting over our individual body insecurities is definitely a challenge, and I know it as much as the next female-presenting person. But the more we tell ourselves that we are beautiful and see bodies that look like ours in media and advertising, the more comfortable we will become. 


I’m working on loving myself more every day and I wish you all the best in doing the same!

Margaux (they/them) is a senior Women and Gender Studies major at SUNY Geneseo. Outside of Her Campus, they work at Geneseo's Office of Diversity and Equity, is on the executive board of Pride Alliance, and is an active Safe Zone trainer. They love to write about diversity, mental health, and environmentalism, with the occasional goofy topic or two (or five). Margaux hopes to someday be the coolest gender studies professor you will ever have.
Jessica Bansbach is a junior psychology major who has more campus club memberships than fingers and toes. In her spare time, if she's forgotten that she's a college student that has more pressing matters to attend to (like, say, studying), she enjoys video games, thrift shopping, and ruminating. She was elected "funniest in group" by her summer camp counselor when she was nine and has since spent the next eleven years trying to live up to the impossible weight of that title.