You're More Than a Stomach

For the longest time, I can remember clearly having weight issues. Being self conscious over your weight at the young age of an elementary school student usually starts when you notice you're bigger than your friends are. They’re all incredibly tiny; skin and bones, really. But then there’s you -- the friend who has boobs at the young age of seven, the friend who wears a size extra-large in Justice t-shirts.

As a young teenager, acceptance is everything. You seek to fit in and become a part of something, somewhere that you belong. So when it comes to finding people to look up to, like celebrities or well known people, you sometimes search for people that resemble yourself because you crave acceptance. If you don’t look like everyone else, then there’s got to be something wrong with you, right?

Each and every time I see a picture of myself, or really anyone else for that matter, my eyes go directly to the midsection. “Do I look skinny there? Thin enough? Is my stomach flat?” The initial questions that come directly to my mind are endless and they’re not particularly nice. Why has my mind been trained to go directly to the midsection? Why do I value looking thin and skinny so much? And why does it even matter if I don’t look “skinny”, “thin enough” or even if my stomach doesn’t look “flat”? What does “thin enough” even entail? Seriously, what does “enough” even mean? Does anyone have that answer? If you have one for me, please don’t hesitate to contact me and share your wisdom because I’ve been searching for that answer for a very long time, my friend.

I’d love to go the usual route of blaming it on the media and the entertainment industry but really, it goes much further than that. It’s about who you surround yourself with, the role models that you look up to in your real life and your frame of mind. “You’re more than flesh and bones,” sings Demi Lovato in “Fall in Line," a song she and Christina Aguilera released in early 2018. Of course, the people that are seen on television, on the big screen and on the front covers of magazines play a very big role in this but like I said, it’s much more than that. If you surround yourself with people that are constantly picking themselves apart and focusing on their appearance then you’re more likely to do the same. Monkey see monkey do!

Over the summer, a sudden rage of inspiration took over my mind and in what seemed like five minutes, I spit out a piece of poetry which is rare. And what’s even more rare is that I actually really loved it. It’s become like my little newborn baby that I don’t want to share with the world, only with a small handful of people who I know would appreciate it and understand. But this past week, I included it in a small performance of pieces that reflected a look inside our minds when it comes to mental health and mental illnesses. I read it to a room full of maybe thirty to forty people, something that made me want to just scream and word vomit everywhere because I had never been so nervous. Afterwards, I felt happy and proud to have put myself out of my comfort zone like that.

After that, people had told me how much what I had shared meant to them. And it got me thinking: you don’t realize how much of an impact your words have on other people. Especially, when it surrounds something that you never thought you’d have the courage to discuss.

 

“You’re more than a stomach.

A stomach that holds nutrients,

Nutrients that keep you alive.

Alive to realize that you're more than a number,

A number that you think defines you.

 

A number that you think defines your worth,

A number that you think defines your personality,

A number that you think defines your person,

A number that you think defines you.

You’re more than a stomach,

A stomach that you constantly feel the need to suck in

To suck in so they don’t see the ever so tiny, protruding bump

 

You're more than a stomach,

You're more than a number.”