Sunday, 11 March 2012

Loving Your Tum

Ask most women which part of their body they least like and invariably they’ll say their stomach. We’re a nation obsessed with flatness, when it comes to our middles (but not when it comes to our mammaries. Then, flatness becomes something to be avoided at all costs). Tummies must be taught, toned, if possible concave. Carbs will be eschewed, sit ups will be struggled through, gym sessions endured, contraptions will be strapped to us and in between times we’ll do an awful lot of sucking-in. When a good looking man walks into a room, there’s almost always an audible intake of breath from any assembled women as they attempt to force their recalcitrant midriffs into compliance with their whims. There’ll be no jiggly-ness here, thank you.

When something doesn’t conform to our arbitrary idea of ‘perfection’, we automatically perceive it as a ‘flaw’. We’re told to ‘embrace’ these flaws, as if a mole, or a wrinkle, or a roll of fat is inherently distasteful, and we’re therefore obliged to acknowledge that they make us an imperfect version of ourselves.

Some people have flat tummies. Some people have round tummies. Some people, like me, inexplicably have quite a flat bit around the rib area but then a great mound of flesh in the lower portion. Look, this clingy dress showcases my inelegant tum to perfection:

I am told I can brand my tummy shape an 'evolutionary thing' – My body still thinks I'm a cavewoman, apparently, and is protecting my womb from the elements. My body doesn’t know that there’s feminism now, you see, and that I’m no longer automatically destined to be a baby making machine. It thinks its doing me a favour. The poor, deluded thing.

At Body Gossip HQ, we’ve been asking ourselves – Who ever said that the flat tummies were the loveliest of them all? Has it always been this way? Greek statues have rounded tums and they are a physical manifestation of the artist’s purely conceptual imagining of beauty (i.e. they could make it look however the heck they wanted, with no reference to reality), so one would assume not.

Our fixation on that little area betwixt chest and pelvis has become so aggressively all-consuming that even BodyGossipRuth - she of the athletic, sporty, healthy, size 10 figure - has had a long-standing issue with her tum. Whereas I, who had pyloric stenosis as a baby and have a whacking great scar in the middle of mine that looks like a zip, have long since reconciled myself to the idea that I’ll always think mine is a little bit lame.

Then, we thought ‘enough! This is ludicrous! We are grown, educated women, with degrees and careers and mortgages! Why are we doing this to ourselves?’ Which just happened to coincide with BodyGossipSarah launching her ‘cyber March’ on Twitter – a challenge to the public to declare to the world that they think a part of their body not traditionally perceived as beautiful is blooming marvellous and they don’t care who knows it.

BodyGossipRuth started posting a picture of her naked midriff on Twitter each day, using the hashtag #lovingmytum. And you’ll never guess what? People only started joining in! Now, everyone’s at it.

So, if you feel so inclined, pick up your phone and point it at your tummy. Now take a picture. Now look at it. That is yours, that is. Own it. Your stomach works very hard every day, processing food, hosting yards and yards of intestine, rumbling to remind you it needs feeding and sucking itself in when good looking people come into the room. Without the scar on mine, I'd be dead. So, say a little thank you. Love your tum. Go on, I dare you.


  1. I have a picture of mine and I am about to upload it. I did it years ago as part of my dissertation :)
    I cannot guarantee it is the exact same, but hell yes :)))

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  3. Though male, I've taken a few pictures of mine. Like you I've had to work to accept my body with its centre-stage pyloric stenosis centipede. Objectifying it has helped me to embrace the whole miraculous story of who I am.