I’m not sure what it was that made me feel like my 19-year-old stomach was too big. Looking back, it was irrational and the sort of thing that mystifies you in your 40s, sizing up the ways in which you wasted your 20s. One summer, instead of hoping turnstiles on the C in an attempt to make my way to Fort Tilden beach, I spent an entire 15 minutes stewing over the way my underbelly popped when I twisted slightly to the left. Back then, I saw my belly button. It lived. Weren’t those the days?!
Except, I am not in my 40s. I’ll be 28 next week, and I am 25 pounds heavier than I was at 19. I’ve had three pregnancies and two children, and my stomach, like a dirt road in the back house of a Virginia ranch, shows all of it. Somewhere below, hiding deep down under my crab-shaped birthmark, and tucked under the belly that now sort of sags over my denim, there’s that belly button that once lived.
Examining myself from that mirror, where I weighed no more than 110 pounds, and still managed to force a microscope on my own imperfections, has sort of put it in perspective and opened up a passage to true self-love. Not only did this belly stretch beyond what I thought humanly possible, to make room for three babies, it proudly displays that journey every single day. If anything, my post-baby belly should be on full display this summer.
I know that it is much easier to type out “Show it off!” “Whip out that two-piece!” rather than actually doing it. The internal conflict is something of its own nature. We are no more than two weeks into the summer of 2017, and while part of me wishes summer could last forever, the joy and beauty is in the realization that it’s fleeting. The hot and sticky slow drip of ice cream and lazy days on the beach are few and far between. So if you’re inspired, here are a few things I did to turn this insecurity into a point of confidence.
VIDEO: Anne Hathaway on Her Post-Baby Body
1.) Buy or pull out belly shirts from the back of the closet. Don’t just skip to the two-piece if you’re hesitant. Start slow. I started off slow: I wore a belly shirt to the grocery store, then an afternoon with a girlfriend, then when I got more confident, an afternoon melted into a day quite rapidly.
2.) Skip the mirror analysis. This is a hard one. But how many times have you talked yourself out of something by standing in front of the mirror for too long? I noticed that once I stopped staring in the mirror, my self-criticism started to fade away.
3.) Admire other women who are doing it right. Closely. It is also easy to watch from the sideline and praise someone. Try asking them about their style, their confidence, and even their insecurities. There’s this beauty and magic that happens when women open up to one another. Once you’ve talked, take what you learn and turn apply those lessons to your own life.
4.) Re-evaluate your flaws and work on acceptance. I noticed that once I started pointing out what each flaw meant, or verbalizing my insecurities, it lost a bit of its significance. Instead, they became a point of pride, ones that I not only accepted but truly grew to love.