We’re often our own worst critics when it comes to our body. The media constantly bombards us with messages that we shouldn’t be happy with our bodies. Therefore, we constantly need to be making changes to ourselves. A common theme in women’s fitness magazines revolves around the stomach. I constantly see articles on “how to get flat abs fast!!” and “foods to eat to burn stomach fat.” Which can be useful if you have an unhealthy amount of abdominal fat you’d like to lose, but isn’t a great message to send to anyone who googles women + stomach.
Regardless of their size, I feel like most women aren’t happy with their stomachs. And I do admit, as a relatively thin girl, it takes a lot of motivational talks in the mirror for me to get hyped up enough to wear a crop top in public (kidding, not kidding). Even though I’m generally on the smaller side, I’m very insecure about my belly pooch.
What is a belly pooch, you ask?
The belly pooch is a small pad of fat that sits below the belly button and above the pelvic bowl. It is meant to be protective to a woman’s reproductive organs (i.e., protecting her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus when not pregnant and protecting the uterus when pregnant). Overall, healthy women have belly pouches (Yes, some women naturally have bodies without the belly fat and they can still be perfectly healthy). I’m generalizing, but even some of the thinnest and/or healthiest girls I know have a belly of some sort.
The belly pooch is deemed to be necessary to the healthy functions of your body. Understanding what the belly pooch is, much less making peace with it, still seems to be a very taboo subject. If you use Google to search on “belly pooch” (even including, terms like “anatomy & physiology” or “evolutionary function”) you get hundreds of pages on how to get rid of the belly pooch. While I do, like most others, recognize that a high amount of fat around your abdominal area is unhealthy and having strong core is good for your health, shaming women’s bodies will not lead to positive change.
We can all recognize that the purpose of breast is for child-bearing, well, so is the belly pouch. If you wouldn’t vouch that your breast are unnecessary because they’re made of fat, then you shouldn’t say the same about your belly pouch (there’s the whole issue about the sexualization of breasts, but that’s a conversation for another article). Unless you’re an Olympic athlete, you will most likely have some sort of belly. It’s almost impossible to get rid of. Since it’s not going anywhere, might as well put your magazines down and love your tummy!
On a personal note, one thing I’ve always been insecure about is how my stomach looks after eating (aka food baby). I have to remind myself that my stomach needs to stretch in order to make room for incoming food. Sometimes a thought would enter my head that if I want to be “beach body ready”, I need to not eat a lot for that particular day. I always need to catch myself having these toxic thoughts and remind myself that I shouldn’t put my health at risk for the sake of my own delusions.
I recognize there is an added layer of depth for curvier women and their body image that I won’t understand. Having said that, if you’re a larger woman and proud of your stomach, I applaud you! Or if you’re still uncomfortable with your stomach, I’m with you. Self-love can be hard because we are bombarded with the media telling us to stay insecure so we can buy their product. Self-love isn’t profitable, so sometimes it can feel like us vs. the world. Self-love is an ongoing journey. Especially loving the part of yourself you’re the most insecure about. We’re all in the self-love boat together. So, eat that burger and love your tummy!