May 10, 2007

Last July I posted a picture of my naked belly, a nearly-12-months-post-partum belly that I wasn’t feeling very proud of. My body had changed since having a baby; what was once smooth was squashy, where there was unmarred skin there was a weird, scrawling line of scar tissue.

I decided to take a new picture, because sometimes it’s just not possible for me to look in the mirror and see my own reality—the reflection I see is so often influenced by what’s in my head: comparisons, criticisms, confusion. I’ve been staring at it off and on today, trying to come to terms with what I see.


I see a body that’s gotten stronger. I see a body with flaws. I see skin that once stretched to accommodate a baby (under the clothes is the same scar as before, no less faded, still a dark pink slash). I see the results of exercising. I see a thousand things I’d like to Photoshop away.

I posted this new picture because I always feel as though I have to hide that part of myself at all times. My belly is my Kryptonite. So this is my fuck you to that feeling. Fuck you, belly shame, now you’re on the internet.

There are times when I find myself obsessing over my body’s shape, my skin, my hair, everything. Always looking for the magical salve or clothing item that will transform me into—what? What am I trying to be? I feel like I’m chasing some nebulous beauty ideal like a dog snapping at its own tail.

I’d like to uncover a self-setting for good enough, but it’s nowhere to be found.


71 Responses to “Calibrating an internal gauge”

  1. ali on May 10th, 2007 9:35 am

    my stomach is my kryptonite as well…

  2. Leigh on May 10th, 2007 10:29 am

    Hi there,

    That belly does not warrant any shame. You are hott. You are a MILF (we’ll, um…if I were a man. Or a lesbian). You also do not look as if you have borne a child!

    If it’s any comfort, I used to feel a lot like you do. Now, at 45, I’m much more accepting of myself. I just don’t stress about that stuff anymore (even though I’m single). After years of going through exactly what you describe, I just got tired of worrying about it. Now i’m just really happy that my body is strong enough to run, bike and do yoga. I feel better than I did when I was in my 20s because I am uber healthy and have let the judgments go!

  3. donna on May 10th, 2007 11:02 am

    I read somewhere, something along the lines of “When you die, God will not look at you for medals, or awards, but for scars.”
    I have a scar that runs from my xyphoid process, to my belly button, then from there to the top of my pubic bone. And it’s not straight. THAT makes me crazy.
    But your tummy, damn zerberts all round! You look great, can’t tell you even had a kid. And that is WITHOUT retouching, surgery, lipo etc.
    Trust me, you may not think you look good now, but when you get to be 50, and you look back at that picture, you are gonna feel like an idiot for not showing your tummy to strangers all the time. Dancing naked on tables. Stripping. Wearing a thong on the beach.
    Maya Angelou said it well, “make up for the sobriety of my youth”, break loose Linda, party down, you and your tummy rock.
    (Actually the only advice I do have? Some spray on tan. Works wonders. Stretch marks won’t tan, so they leave the white lines, spray on tan, tans the stretch marks too. And darker looks better, cellulite goes away, you look healthy. Don’t tan for real though, that sucks for your skin. Don’t believe me? Use some of your bare essential make up on your tummy, then take another pic, that’s what a tan will do for you.) Do you need even that? Hell no. Again, you rock.

  4. Jody on May 10th, 2007 11:46 am

    You are a total MILF.

  5. Scott on May 10th, 2007 12:10 pm

    “Fuck you, belly shame, now you’re on the internet.”

    Man, that so belongs on a t-shirt. You should submit that to Threadless. Nice post.

  6. Kristina on May 10th, 2007 12:16 pm

    You look Fab!
    You’ve probably already seen this but just in case…
    Have a great weekend!

  7. dorrie on May 10th, 2007 12:30 pm

    I think you look amazing! i am inspired.

  8. Lauren on May 10th, 2007 12:43 pm

    Awesome. Now I’m a little less afraid of my future post-partum bod.

  9. Karen on May 10th, 2007 2:10 pm

    Shut. Up.

    You look awesome. I’m especially impressed with your lack of inner thigh fat. ;)

  10. lisa on May 10th, 2007 2:18 pm

    Your belly looks damn fine! You’re doing great, sister!

  11. Lucia on May 10th, 2007 2:48 pm

    I think you look great!! I haven’t even had a baby and my belly well – let’s not go there!

    In honor of your zombie “love”:

  12. Keri on May 10th, 2007 4:06 pm

    You look GREAT! Summer’s here…now get a bikini and show off your bod! :-)

  13. Melissa on May 10th, 2007 4:45 pm

    You look great, and very healthy. What’s most amazing is your honesty. Thanks for sharing this!

  14. thejunebug on May 10th, 2007 8:53 pm

    Well, speaking as someone 130lbs overweight, if I had your belly I’d run around in a bikini screaming “look at me!” :) I think you’re beautiful.

  15. Lesley on May 10th, 2007 9:47 pm

    It’s funny how relative one’s perspective is. I learned today that I have to get my driver’s license renewed because it’s due to expire in June. The pic on my license is 5 years old. I remember the day the photo was taken and how much I loathed it when it arrived in the mail. I looked at it yesterday and thought “not bad!” Because now that I’m five years older, I think I must look like shit. Five years from now I’ll look at the new pic and think “hey, not bad!” – so why can’t I just think that about myself now? Enjoy who I am and what I am NOW?

    Unfortunately, “real” isn’t what’s in the magazines. The photos in the magazines of the supermodels and glamourous actresses have even been retouched and airbrushed because even a perfect model/beautiful actress is too flawed for a cover or an inside spread.

    The other night on Letterman, Jane Fonda who just turned 70 turned to the audience and said “I just want women to know that it gets better.” That all these ideas about growing old as a woman are bullshit. She may not be Barbarella anymore, but she kicked ass on that show. She’s got a new boyfriend, she’s having lots of sex, flyfishing, and she looks pretty damn fabulous.

  16. Lesley on May 10th, 2007 9:55 pm

    P.S. I’m doing a lot of turbo jamming and I notice Chalene’s six-pack belly has evidence of childbirth on it and she is a sexy, good-looking, confident woman. I would kill to have her body.

    The way she looks inspires me because she’s a real live person in great physical shape with a strong confident personality. I think if she was a flawless Barbie Doll I wouldn’t be motivated to keep going.

    What makes a person attractive is a combination of things. I’d say you’ve got it all going for you.

  17. Gentry on May 11th, 2007 3:31 am

    I see the body of a trim/slim woman in her 30s. If that’s your body post pregancy and without a daily personal trainer, I’d say you have the Luckybitch gene.

  18. TB on May 11th, 2007 4:14 am

    There’s a song Carly Simon wrote after her breast cancer surgery, called Scar. One of my favorite lines from the refrain is “Lead with your spirit and follow your scar” to me, it’s about the physical manifestation of our life experiences and a really good scar, or a stomach that has held a child is a great testament to where we’ve been and where we’re going.

    You look great.

  19. AmyD on May 11th, 2007 7:40 am

    You’ve got me beat, and I haven’t even had a baby yet.

    As for your gumption, humility, and proverbial balls, I’d say you’ve got me beat there, too. Well done!

  20. Ally on May 12th, 2007 4:50 am

    I thought your belly looked quite nice. I also struggle with belly shame, and have spent more hours than I care to recall working out to get some improvement, successive approximations of whatever ideal I thought I’d someday reach. It still has yet to happen. I remember once scolding myself thought that I should spend as much time bettering my brain as I do my belly. Now I read while working out (I hope that’s helping). Kudos to you for having the nerve to post with belly pictures – I maybe need to work on my nerve, too.

  21. Melanie on May 14th, 2007 4:13 pm

    I think your belly looks great – and you have obviously come a long way from the last pic. Give yourself a high five, girl!

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