I have a soft, round, and extremely cute belly and believe it or not, I’ve had many people (family, friends, colleagues, etc.) ask if I was pregnant. Look! Just because my stomach sticks out, doesn’t mean I am pregnant!
It’s not easy embracing The Belly in an anti-belly world! And let’s face it, the media fuels these anti-belly sentiments.
The mixed messages I receive from my friends and family correspond to the mixed messages the media sends out. The media I’m referring to is made up of several magazines and gossip columns (both on the web and on newsstands) that consider it their civic duty to disclose celebrity body fluctuations on an inch-by-inch basis.
Remember the Reese Witherspoon pregnancy scandal? Editors hoped to sell their magazines by using a few manipulated pictures of Reese with a bumpÂ so they could be the first to expose that Reese is preggars! It might be news to them and perhaps to us as well, but it’s not so newsworthy to our bodies. To our dismay, our weight-conscious society doesn’t view pregnancy as beautiful, but rather as a condition that adds unwanted pounds. Consequently, when someone is mistaken as pregnant, it’s usually taken as an insult. We now know Reese wasn’t expecting a third child. However, the media hoped she was, because it’s unacceptable for a top-ranking celebrity and America’s sweetheart to carry anything but a washboard stomach!
Yet this is the same media that shockingly reveals (or are they reveling in?) celebrities under a hundred pounds. Gossip columns are as much about body-fat content as stars’ activities. Us, People, InTouch, Star, etc. take turns obsessing over which celebrities are rail-thinÂ (ahem, see this week’s People magazine) and which could afford to shed a few pounds. As readers, we are expected to reject both body types. However, we are never given any indication of what they think a healthy body should look like. Their (unhealthy) obsession with weight results in us obsessing and dangerously criticizing our weight. We wonder: if Nicole Kidman’s body doesn’t size up, how can mine?
Let’s bring this back to The Belly. It’s no wonder I’ve had prospective crushes stop me in the midst of conversation to ask whether or not I am expecting. Though that question is never justified, it is especially unwelcome after the crush in question has already bought me a drink! Just because celebrities (or 0.25 percent of the world’s population if that) have washboard stomachs, doesn’t mean women who don’t are pregnant.
It’s taken me a long time to accept The Belly. But after years of belly-hating, I had to put things in perspective. After all, how long can I hate something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life?