Few women like the way their abdomens look. Walking past the women’s magazine stands in your local supermarket, you’d be forgiven for thinking this section of torso between our boobs and vaginas represents our value as human beings.
To illustrate the point, here are three stories I print screened from the Mail Online this morning:
I hate to be a slave to materialistic insecurities perpetuated by stories like these, but I think my tummy is disgusting. It’s my evil twin, representing all my weaknesses – my inability to turn down my mum’s homemade cake, the extra forkful of pasta I sneak when dinner’s over and I’m supposed to be putting the leftovers in a lunchbox for tomorrow, the one-too-many pints I drink while trying to convince myself I’m still young and reckless and not ready to care about liver disease. Over the years of teenage hedonism and young-adult-angst, I’ve developed a good coating of excess fat around my midriff that is, whether I like it or not, impacting the opinion I have of myself in a pretty negative way.
People like me who aren’t entirely happy with their bodies start to lose self-esteem. Suddenly we don’t see the amazing things we’ve done or how lucky we are – the qualifications we worked so hard to achieve, our great jobs, our friendships, our experiences, our health and good physical fitness… all we see is rolls of fat in places where other people, people who’ve ‘got it together’, have nice attractive muscle lines. It’s vain, it’s self-indulgent, self-destructive and narrow-minded – but it’s how I think a lot of us feel.
Guilt is an important part of a consumerist society. Guilt keeps us buying – the gym memberships, the low fat yoghurt, the women’s magazines and, as a natural by-product of abstinence, the chocolate, crisps, alcohol and fast-food we now believe to be ‘forbidden’ and therefore ‘desirable’.
Our tummy insecurities equal big bucks for some industries. But it’s just a piece of flesh. Women who ‘flash their washboard abs’ in tiny crop tops are not necessarily fitter, or more accomplished than me. Who’s to say I wouldn’t beat them in a plank-off? I’ve got unsightly fat reserves but what does unsightly matter in an apocalyptic situation when the food starts to run out? My rolls protect me. If I fall over, I’ve got five inches of flesh protecting my organs from damage. If I get stabbed, there’s a bit of cushioning there increasing my chances of survival. I rarely get cold.
We always look at the downsides of fat and never the positives.
Let’s say f*** you to consumerist guilt and the Daily Mail and embrace our bodies. Let’s look at fitness in a positive way, as a way of enjoying life and improving ourselves – not as a way of getting rid of imperfections and guilt.
Don’t feel down about the easter egg you demolished yesterday, or the other easter egg you intend to demolish today. It’s OK to look shit in a crop top. Most of us do.