Inspired by SweetLeighSewn’s blog post entitled “A Love Letter to My Belly,” I decided to write this piece entitled “A Truce with My Tummy.” In retrospect, it really can be extended to be a love letter to my body. Seeing these words written down gives added impetus to live it out every day. If loving your body has become more difficult for you lately, I encourage you to try this exercise and see how it makes you feel.
We owe it to ourselves to love ourselves and practice that self-love in sometimes radical ways.
Truth is, this letter is hard to write because I don’t really love you. I don’t know if I ever did. I don’t know how. I was never taught. I didn’t think it was permitted.
You started to show up in puberty and never really went away. It would be far too easy to list and extoll all of the grief you’ve caused me over the years – occasional stomach aches, menstrual cramps, stretch marks, pangs of hunger, flatulence, ill-fitting dresses and jeans, sucking you in when photos are taken, the purchase of much shapewear to cover you up and smooth you out and hide you and make you disappear… I was (am?) ashamed of you.
I was taught to be ashamed of you. I’ve never borne children, thus I shouldn’t have a belly. I’m young and I have “no stress”, ergo I shouldn’t have a belly. I eat too many sweets and junk food and don’t do enough exercise (which is actually not true) – that’s why I have a belly.
For most of my life, I’ve just wanted you to go away – forever. I tried my best to make that happen.
I wanted you to turn into a chiseled six pack and not a beer belly. But since you won’t go away, and since disdain and disgust have not seemed to help, I’ve decided to try something different: I will love and accept you the way you are instead (and see what that will do).
I will love and accept you the way you are…
You’re the only tummy I have and I’m not getting another one. So I might as well love the one I got.
Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for digesting my food and helping me do 30 second planks (one day we will work up to one minute). Thanks for telling me when something is wrong and alerting me to danger – whether it’s an issue of food (indigestion), stress response, or an intuitive signal. If it weren’t for you, think about how much harm I would’ve allowed or done to myself or my life? I don’t think I fully recognize and appreciate all of the things you do for me.
I don’t think I fully recognize and appreciate all of the things you do for me.
You are round and soft and squishy and you have so much potential – but I need to love you for what you are now and not for what I want you to be or what you could be. I don’t think it’s fair to you – or to myself – if I only allow myself to love you when you’ve reached a certain ideal or look a certain way. You owe it to no one – not even to myself – to look a certain way. You are capable of much more than being looked at.
Chances are, if I can’t learn to love you now with your imperfections, I may never learn to love you – regardless of what you look like – and that would be tragic. You will change over the course of my life, and I want to be able to love you along the journey – once again, regardless of how you look.
I will stop pinching and poking and squeezing you as if my abdomen is some kind of foreign object, in constant scrutiny of your girth or appearance. We (as a body, as a black person, as a woman) face enough scrutiny already. The least I can do is save myself from further scrutiny. I will not be the source of any added, unnecessary criticism. You exist for much more than critique.
I will not be the source of any added, unnecessary criticism. You exist for much more than critique.
You are a part of me. To hate you would be to hate myself. To be ashamed of you is to be ashamed of myself. Let’s be honest: hate and shame are two things that I can do without.
So now when I undress, I stand boldly in front of the mirror, admiring my curves – my every curve. I shall stand unabashed of my body.
My love for you is unconditional; if, despite my best attempts, you decide to stay, I will love you anyways. I shower you with love today, because I don’t want to be among those who don’t know what they have until it’s gone.
If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. Thank you for being you. You’re awesome.