Body Image: The Way My Stomach Looks [Thinking Out Loud #7]

I’m going to explain something to you that I don’t like to admit often.

I don’t like the way my stomach looks.

There, I said it.

Today, I’m linking up with Amanda from Running With Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday with a different spin. This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week, and Amanda asked those participating in the link-up to share a personal story or angle on eating disorders. I’m doing this because I think that people need to be more aware that these disorders are silent killers. Not enough people get the help and support they need to recover from eating disorders; far too many lives are changed forever by the battles we wage with our bodies every day – I’ve seen lives changed by them first-hand, to people I love. We need to understand that there should not be a stigma about getting the help we need to live.

I believe that body image is a big player in eating disorders, but it is also an entity of its own. Body image is still something I struggle with. I don’t need to be told that I’m “not fat,” or “look so good!” I know that. I do. I’m not fat. I do look good. But I have never liked my stomach. I don’t know if I ever will.

What got me thinking about my stomach specifically this week? I mentioned Monday that I participated in a nearly naked run over the weekend. Everyone involved wore their sports bras and shorts. No real shirts. The race was something I always wanted to do, but it was a big risk for me.

It was difficult for me to feel confident being around other girls with flat abs, no fear about baring their stomachs. I don’t even really like to wear bathing suits, so this was tough. Maybe you think I’m being dramatic here, but I’m just being honest. It’s something I’ve never been comfortable with. It partially stems from the weight I did lose when I was in high school as well as being surrounded by friends for my entire life who had great abs. And what I’m about to do, post a picture of the stomach I don’t love? That’s just as much a risk for me.

runbareonbricks

Thankfully, I’m at a place in my life where I know that when I feel the worst about my stomach, I won’t drastically drop my calories or beat myself up for having that extra spoonful or two of peanut butter earlier. I’m going to continue to eat extra peanut butter, cake, and other things that will keep me from getting “perfect abs.” I’d rather be happy than restrictive these days. That’s fine. I know that I won’t have perfect abs. They’re probably not in my genes, anyway. It doesn’t really help that I have a scar next to my bellybutton now, either. Still, I also know that I look fine the way I am. But honestly? I don’t think it’s a crime for me to be self-conscious about my stomach. We all have our insecurities. I am not made of steel – no one is, as far as I know. This is my insecurity.

I have a lot of other awesome assets. I love my hair; I love my eyes; I love my legs. I think I’m funny. I have amazing friends. My family is the best I could ask for. I am a good person, and I do love myself. I just don’t love my stomach.

So here’s my final thought: It’s okay if you don’t like something about your body. Just know that there are so many other parts of you and that one part will not define you unless you let it. Don’t let your insecurity define you and control your actions. Recognize that you are great, because you – and I… we’re great.

No question today. Just your thoughts. 

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46 comments

  1. Wow, this post rings so true to me. This is the first time I’ve come across your blog and I can completely relate. My stomach is my ‘uncomfortable’ body part too. Over the years I’ve had to loose a lot of weight to get down to weight to compete for a sport and whilst I was at my lowest my stomach was flat but…I wasn’t happy! I didn’t have enough energy to concentrate on work, even talk with my friends, I couldn’t enjoy my food, or really my life – it so wasn’t worth it! Now I eat healthy most of the time and workout and my little bulge (!) is back but I am SO much happier! Now looking at it reminds me of the fact that I am actually living my life 🙂 sounds like you have a great attitude to me!

  2. I am really proud of you for writing this post. a lot of us, i bet the majorityof us, do the same thing. critique one part of us without realizing the whole package is worth way more than that one part. i love hearing you say this and saying how you moved from it. i know my stomach will always be a sore spot for me too, females and their stomach always get us i guess!

  3. This post rocked my socks off. Beautifully written, and amazingly honest and brave. I’m pretty sure we all have those things that we’re not particularly fond of about ourselves… I know I do, but I also know that they’ve started to matter. A lot less as I’ve gotten older and realized that I was putting far too much weight and worth into things that didn’t matter all that much — and at the cost of things that DID matter, like health, happiness, and freedom. Those extra a pounds and rock hard abs just aren’t worth the time and effort it takes to live that way. I’d much rather relax and enjoy my cookie 🙂

  4. This was really brave of you and I love your honesty. It’s funny because I don’t like my stomach either. I would rather eat the cake and cookies, let’s be honest, b ut it’s something I have never come to terms with. For whatever reason, my belly button droops down and it makes my stomach look larger. I APPLAUD you for doing this race and not worrying about your stomach (which by the way I think looks great!). And I love the turn you took and made it about things you do have in your life and not to dwell on this one aspect.

  5. Lovely post, and brave! Focusing on what you love about your body is so important, as well as realizing that there’s so much more to life than being critical on yourself. I know when we’re all older we’ll look back at photos of ourselves and realize just how beautiful and healthy we were at the time, might as well just accept it now and appreciate our amazing bodies for all they do for us!

  6. I remember this feeling exactly. Why does everything in college have to involve nudity? But at the same time, why do we have to be so damn scared to bare it all?

    You are so beautiful and NORMAL and have nothing to be self-conscious about. You fuel your body with the right stuff, you stay active, you are funny, and smart and have so much to contribute. Whenever you spend more than .00004 seconds dwelling on body parts you don’t like, remember that! Or just text me and I’ll snap you out of it.

    So much love!

  7. I don’t think you were being dramatic at all.. I would struggle to bring myself to do that run. To be completely honest with you, I don’t think I could do it. I have come a long way with my body image issues but to bare my stomach and do a run half naked? Nope, still don’t think I could.

    1. It was a really uncomfortable but freeing thing for me to do! Especially when surrounded by so many good lookin’ guys with six packs, let me tell ya. I’m glad I did it though, and I’m glad I wrote this post!

  8. This post is amazingly honest and brave hun – I think it’s MY favourite post that YOU have ever written! And I completely, 100% relate because I have the exact same insecurities. My main body insecurity has always been my stomach…it doesn’t seem to genetically have it in it to be flat, let alone be a six-pack. It’s frustrating and it bugs me that I’m so self-conscious of it, but it is what it is.

    I know you don’t need me to tell you this, but you are an amazing, lovely person, and your body has nothing to do with that.

    1. Thank you so much Sam. It’s so frustrating sometimes but I mean, it’s not worth me expending all of my energy into getting the perfect stomach! I don’t think I would be happy even if I got to that point. xo… a big big xo.

  9. Brave and inspiring 😉 Thank you for your honesty! I really admire those with body acceptance than those who are restricting food and slogging away at the gym for something that may ultimately be unattainable.

  10. I can relate to this SO much. Thank you for sharing, seriously!

    People think I am insecure because I have insecurities – but the truth is… I love my body, i love myself – but I am still allowed to feel insecure sometimes or about certain parts. But that (by any means) does not mean i have low self-esteem or what-have-you. So i loved that you put that out there in this post.

    My insecurity is my stomach as well. I am not sure I will ever have a stomach I will be “comfortable” with – but you know, those nut butter spoonfuls and chocolate and wine are STILL going to happen. I am past obsessing and stressing about it.

    Have a fabulous day, lady! ❤

    1. You’re welcome – and thank you for reading! We alllll have insecurities. But on the opposite hand, we all have amazing qualities as well. I’d rather be happy and healthy than beat myself up because I don’t like my stomach. I don’t think I’ll ever like it – but that’s okay. There’s so much more to focus on. 🙂

  11. You think you’re funny? Hmmm….tbd. Kidding. This is a really great post and I can relate seeing as my stomach annoys me more often than any other body part. I am confident and most days I love my body but on the days that I don’t, it’s my stomachs fault. But, like you said, I’d rather eat cake than never eat cake–I’m happier that way.

  12. Awesome post, and you know you are not alone. Same body part for me, but like you said, I’d rather eat that spoonful of peanut butter or those few Girl Scout cookies instead of completely restricting myself. And I think as I get more into my twenties, I have that “I don’t care” mentality that I am going to do what makes me happy instead of looking at others.

  13. Bravo Ang for stepping out of your comfort zone to write this and embrace it- we all have that part or parts of our body that we don’t like or wish we could change and whether you realise it or not- just by partaking in that race, you’ve shown more self love than you’d probably consider.

    1. Thanks Arman. It was certainly stepping out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure. I feel like you would laugh at the fact that I’m such a prude I had to shield my eyes from all the scary man bodies… a lot of them were wearing like little speedos and I basically had to avert my eyes because I’m so embarrassed by things like that. Also one of those guys had a creepy horse head on with just some undies so I was just really uncomfortable lol. I don’t know why but I just needed to tell you that…. okay I’ve said enough haha. This is why I don’t twerk at the gym! I’m a scaredy cat. I swear I will one day…

  14. Ahhh I definitely relate to you about not loving your stomach because that’s the one part I don’t love. It’s frustrating too. I know I workout. I eat good most the time. Why can’t my stomach look as good as those girl who I see eat cocoa puffs for breakfast at my sorority house? But that’s just how I am 🙂 I have great legs and great arms and for lunch today I had hot cheetos and chocolate cake. I’m so happy to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t love her stomach. I’m so glad I read this today!

    1. Haha right? One of life’s great conundrums. Oh well, we have a lot of other amazing aspects to love about ourselves. I think that coming to terms with the fact that I just don’t love my stomach and I never will was freeing for me instead of forcing myself to be happy with it, I can focus on everything else I like.

  15. Thanks for sharing this real picture. It wasn’t until I was so tiny that I lost my period and looked frail that I finally lost my tummy, and even then, I had residual from having been heavier…

    1. Just know that the “imperfections” we see in ourselves won’t define us unless we let them. I want to portray the real version of myself on here – and that real self, while happy, does have insecurities. The most important thing is that I need to be healthy, though.

  16. Ang, thank you for always being REAL and HONEST… even when it’s on a topic that scares you the most. I commend you for not only running this race but posting the photo online. You are a beautiful woman, and should never feel anything less.

    1. Thank you Jessie. I really appreciate that – you’re far too sweet. I try to be as honest as possible on here, otherwise I don’t feel right. I could say that I love that part of my body and am so confident about it, but I’d be lying! That’s not why I’m here. Thank you as always for reading along. xo

  17. I think this is something we all really struggle with. We see things about ourselves and we magnify them and they become so, so, SO important to us. I do it. For me, it used to be my hair. I hated it. I wanted to be blonde and have long wavy, gorgeous hair. But the hair that used to cause me so much stress wasn’t even something that other people FOCUSED on. They thought my hair looked fine. I realize that self image has nothing to do with what other people think of you, but I think that a lot of times, we believe that others see us the way that we see ourselves. I looked at your stomach and thought it looked great. I didn’t see a scar next to your belly button. Amazing how the image that we have of ourselves if often so far from the image that we project to the world! Great post.

    1. Thanks Amy. This was such a lovely comment. It’s difficult for me to really believe that people don’t notice the same “imperfections” that I notice, simply because I hear comments (not about me but about other people, etc) in everyday life. It’s just something that gets to me sometimes, but I know it’s not defining unless I let it be. Which, if I want to be sane, I can’t!

  18. Ang, wow. I’m so glad you wrote this. We do all have insecurities but I think it’s amazing that you posted a picture to show that you’re being strong about yours. As far as body image and certain parts we pick at on ourselves, I have a mantra that might help. I’ve found that when we focus on what our bodies and body parts can DO instead of how they appear, there is more acceptance and appreciation. You may not love the way your stomach looks, but I’m sure you love how your core keeps you stabilized and strong during pilates and yoga and keeps your posture on point. I don’t like my thighs most days, but when I think about being able to log hundreds of miles a year, I can cut myself some slack. Just some food for thought and I totally love that you wrote this. You’re great. 🙂

    1. Thanks dearie. I’m not necessarily strong about it, and it clearly still gets to me sometimes, but I know that my core can do great things for me even if it’s not the hottest thing on the block. xo

  19. Wow! What a brave post to right, it’s so inspiring, so thank you 🙂 but you know the old saying “we don’t see our bodies the way others do”, this isn’t to add a cute bit of kindness, this is me being honest! You have a great, healthy body and we all have those small things we might not like, so I applaud you being so open 🙂

    1. Thank you – I appreciate it! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that there will alway be things we don’t like about ourselves that we might not be able to change. We can accept them for what they are, but we don’t have to love them. We just have to know they won’t make or break us.

  20. I love your positivity! I’ve never been a fan of my stomach, so I fell into the restriction trap. *le sigh* I love how you focus on all of the things your like about yourself. Kudos for you for doing what makes you happy. 🙂

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