I’m a big fan of Rosa Lee Timm — a performance artist, actress, ASL teacher and managing editor of KISSFIST Magazine. She is also a mom, a storyteller, and a Deaf woman with a great sense of humor! Our paths occasionally crossed when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I became quite fond of her. We became friends on Facebook and I look forward to her deep sharing and occasional tongue-in-the-cheek posts. One of her posts in particular caught my eye a while back and has become my latest mantra. She wrote:
“Can a woman have a belly in peace?”
I sent Rosa Lee a private message asking her if I might use her quote in this newsletter. She chuckled and said,
“But of course! Ha! I’m glad it spoke to you.”
It sure did! More importantly, I believe her quote speaks to many of us women on a “gut” level — pardon the pun — and it deserves some attention.
So… let us ponder for a moment, the beautiful, bountiful BELLY.
As a little girl, I often heard my mom, aunts and grandmothers talking about their unwanted paunch. I quickly learned that a large, protruding or flabby abdomen was a bad thing for a woman to have. Some of the men in my family had similar or smaller versions of it, but when they referred to their rolls as a “beer belly” or “love handles,” it seemed to be terms of endearment. I never heard them complaining about their girth the way the women did. In fact, almost every girl and woman I knew, in or outside of my family, hated their bellies. I learned that having a big tummy was simply unacceptable!
As a teenager, while I poured through my teen magazines, I learned that society definitely agreed. The multitude of bone-showing models and fat-busting advertisements continued to punch me in the gut. They told me how to work it, wrap it, burn it, pinch it, tighten it, flatten it, bind it, slim it, cinch it, tone it, hide it, blast it, belt it, lose it and suck it in!
But nowhere did anyone tell us girls anything about how to LOVE our bellies …unless… we were pregnant! Only then, for the next 9 months, a woman got to have a belly in peace! She became a belly-goddess! This is when a woman’s belly is painted, cast, decorated, kissed, rubbed, soothed and loved! After all, her belly is a vessel of life and that is something to celebrate!
But the moment her child leaves her womb, a woman is once again bombarded by the onslaught of belly-haters to get rid of it! That lovely, magical baby house is now an ugly, bulging, spare tire that must simply go away! People no longer rub their hands and fingers affectionately over her lovely middle. They no longer lean their soft cheeks against her solar-plexus and speak or sing adoringly to her. Once her baby is born, it’s all about loosing the pooch!
My girlfriends and I now find ourselves sporting a middle-age-spread. Not only are we still battling our own Inner-Critics, we occasionally have to deal with ridiculous comments from people asking us how far along we are or when are we due! “Puh-lease! We are clearly beyond baby-making years, honey!” It’s times like these, when I want to flippantly and loudly toss out Rosa Lee’s quote.
“Can a woman have a belly in peace?!”
As a girl grows into a young woman, she no longer needs ads or commercials telling her she doesn’t measure up. By then, her Inner-Critic is alive and loud! These Inner-Bullies lives constantly within and is hard to escape! Sometimes, she shows up as a Comparison Queen. The Comparison Queen’s job is to measure the value or success of your life by comparing you to others. In her eyes, you are never enough. She makes you feel inferior to others.
“Your belly is fat and ugly! Everyone can see it. Why can’t you have a flat stomach like everyone else? No one will love you with a big belly.”
Ahh, those Inner-Critics! We all have them. They pile on loads of belittling or negative messages and make us feel like crap! Our Inner-Critics cause us tremendous stress and unhappiness! So what do we do?
- Deactivate your Inner-Mean-Girl!
- Transform her!
- Give her new superpowers!
- Empower the voice of your Inner-Wise-Woman
- and Give up self-bullying for good!
In every moment, every day, you have the choice of what thoughts fill your mind, what emotions fill your body, and what actions guide your life. You have a choice as to whether you tune in to the judgmental voice of your Inner-Critic or the loving force of your Inner-Wisdom. What will you choose?
For all of us women who have bullied ourselves — as little girls, teenagers, and adults — it’s time to say “FINISH! ENOUGH!” It’s time to LOVE OUR BELLIES…. and to Love ourselves.