MY MIDSECTION AND ME

  1. I became self conscious of my tummy at a young age.
    I don't remember exactly when the rampant insecurity took hold, but I always had a bit of a round tummy, even though I was a slender child. I do remember feeling mortified when a kid in my fifth grade class told me I looked "pregnant ". It's always been the first place I gain weight, and even when I am at a healthy weight I feel like it looks big compared to my skinny limbs.
  2. My mom didn't really help matters...
    Looking back it is clear to me now that she had some body image issues of her own, and she sure wasn't shy about pointing out my "flaws" as she saw them. She frequently reminded me to suck in my stomach, not to tie shirts around my waist (she thought it drew attention to my large middle), and encouraged me to lose weight. All of this led to me becoming incredibly fixated on my "gut". Even after my adolescent growth spurt that left me a size 3 for most of high school.
  3. I became an expert at tummy camouflage.
    Large sweatshirts were good. Ditto oversized plaid shirts (thank you, grunge era!). When baby doll dresses got popular I cried tears of joy. Sadly crop tops were not an option-more than anything in high school I wanted to look cute in a stomach baring sweater a la Liv Tyler in Empire Records but my insecurities would not allow such things. Also one piece bathing suits were not especially "in" so my back got way more tan than my front because time at the pool was spent mostly on my stomach.
  4. But clothes weren't the only way to camouflage.
    I devised special ways to sit in class so as to hide my little rolls. Also I heeded my mother's advice to "suck it in". Recently I found out that this practice is not good for your core or your pelvic floor but that is a whole other list. I frequently checked my reflection anywhere it appeared so as to make sure everything was pulled in. A friend once noticed this and accused me of being vain. Too ashamed to admit what I was doing I just clammed up and decided I deserved her scorn.
  5. In my early 20s I made a truce
    I still didn't love my mid section-it was soft in an era when six pack abs were the physical ideal. But I had come to a point where I felt a little more confident. I tried about 20 different workouts that promised to give me the body of my dreams, and when they didn't I went ahead and got my navel pierced anyway. A small, only slightly regrettable rebellion against my own insecurities.
  6. And then an ironic twist
    In my late twenties my husband (who in all his dearness has always professed complete love for my body) and I found out we were expecting...twins. Suddenly I was being encouraged to gain weight. Extra inches of circumference were encouraged. For the first time in my life I wasn't self conscious of my waist. I was SUPPOSED to be getting bigger. I loved it. I got ridiculously big and it was wonderful. Here I am at 36 weeks pregnant, 2 1/2 weeks before I had my twins.
  7. The twist gets twistier
    The experience that brought me so much peace with my body and amazement at what it could do totally destroyed my midsection. My skin and muscles did not respond well to so much strain. I had a major diastasis and my stretch marks got stretch marks. For almost a year my stomach resembled an old man's ass-and I know this because I worked in a nursing home in my early twenties. A perfect bikini body was no longer something to strive for-it was no longer an option at all.
  8. And so here we are
    Since the twins I've had 2 more darling babies. Over the years my midsection has been through those 3 pregnancies, an appendectomy, one c-section, and an exploratory laparoscopic surgery. The skin has recovered somewhat from that first pregnancy, the stretch marks remain but the old man's ass has disappeared (except when I do plank in yoga class) and I feel I have more or less made peace with my body. The fact that there are so many cute one piece bathing suits now helps. 😉
  9. But here is where the universe really had it's chuckle
    A couple of years ago I got together with a friend from high school for a drink. In the course of our reminiscing we talked about this dumbshit boy we were both hung up on back in the day. She sheepishly admitted to me that she had been bitterly jealous of me for a while after dumbshit boy had praised my physique in conversation with her. His opinion? That I had "the most perfect stomach". To make this weirder she was the same friend who thought I was vain for constantly checking myself out.
  10. So to sum it up
    Random insecurities are rarely worth the attention we pay them, but most of us have them. Perhaps we would all be better served by showing ourselves a little more love. But also....I will never...EVER...tell my daughter to suck it in.