The intimacies of bellies

The reason I started writing this blog is because I needed to get off of my ass and accept myself already. I’ve posted about that here and here. So I don’t really need to go all into that again, because I’m already enough of a blow hard.

The other day, I stopped to notice my interactions with N in the community (I laugh when I say that, because I work in social work currently, and that’s how we talk about the folks we support. I like talking about myself in that vein as well. You’ll be proud to know I am integrated successfully in the community!). So there we are at a bar with some friends, and as I sometimes do, I’m engaged but also viewing myself and us through a lens outside of us. What do we look like to others? How are we perceived? It’s this little social experiment I play. Am I fitting in or not? Is our group fitting in or not? Having been so disconnected from my body for so long, it’s relatively easy for me to just float away right on into the stratosphere of the room and ponder such sociological questions.

As I started to play 20 social psychology questions, N came up and touched me on my belly. I touched her right back on hers. I was brought instantly back to the here-and-now.

I have been thinking a lot about my belly lately. I lost about 85 pounds as a senior in high school, and despite bulimia, I gained it all back. When I gained it back, it seemed to comes back in differently than where I had had it originally. Or, maybe I was so unattached to my body when I was originally at my fattest, that I didn’t know I had a belly to begin with. Either way, I ended up paying attention to this belly I had.

In my relationships with men, who claimed to not give a whit about my fatness, (although actions and sometimes-words proved otherwise), they commented a lot on my ass. They loved it. Fat or less-fat — 180 pounds or 260 pounds — I have always had a round ass and thick thighs: the dilemma of being pear-shaped. I learned this when, at 18, at my least-fattest, I experienced getting called “thick” for the first time.

But they never, ever, touched my belly. Not when we hugged. Not casually. Not intimately. Not accidentally. And never during sex.

I remember noticing this disparity about what body parts were up for grabs when I saw a picture of my ex-husband and his ex-fiancee. There they were on a boat in Key West, his hand firmly planted on her flat belly. I thought: He never touches me like that. I could see their closeness, a closeness we lacked, in that visual display. Reading up on body language, when couples touch each other’s bellies, it is a sign of true intimacy. Makes sense: The belly is, in chakra terms, where the ego rests. We have to be pretty comfortable with someone to touch them right where the fight-or-flight impulse comes from.

N adores my belly. She kisses it regularly. She speaks of it. I have never had that before, and at first, it was weird, admittedly. My belly is puckered. It is scarred a little from gallbladder surgery. It hangs over my pants. It isn’t smooth and flat. It gurgles a lot because of IBS. The belly is a sign of fatness, of excess. In order to let someone to touch it, I have to be comfortable with it. She has to be comfortable with it, and with my fatness to touch it as well. That’s a scary proposition, once that requires, well, intimacy with both her … and myself.

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13 Comments

  1. zombie z said,

    January 21, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Word.

    I just realized that, while I adore being touched everywhere else, I’m really uncomfortable with being touched (or, worse, kissed) on my stomach. I feel like if someone gets to close to it, my Secret will be out. They’ll find out I’m actually fat, despite all the camoflauge I do to the contrary.

    On the other hand, I adore my boyfriend’s stomach. He is thin, true; but I can’t imagine loving it any less if it increased in size. And he apparently really likes mine, though I’m still squicky about him hanging out down there.

  2. thoughtracer said,

    January 21, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Isn’t that so funny? I have always adored bellies. Big, soft bellies. Everyone I have ever dated has had some pudge around their middle, and I have just loved it. But never mine. I have done countless situps to reduce my own pudge, somehow thinking that I could be really fat, but the flatter the stomach, the better it would be. I think my adoration of others’ stomachs was a projection of sorts: I need to learn to love my own.

  3. temper212 said,

    January 21, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    My fiance is wonderful like that- he has always touched my belly- and always loved it. At first it felt weird and awkward, because I hated my belly, but I quickly learned to love it, and it’s become integral to our bonding.

  4. Bacon's Mom said,

    January 21, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    My belly is a result of my pregnancy: covered with ghostly stretch marks, not firm like the rest of my fat, I never liked it until my husband started holding and kissing it. He helped me realize that though it was new, it wasn’t the “other” I had considered it. I look at other bellies now and think how soft and comforting they must be, how it would feel to be small again (like my daughter) and be able to rest my head against my mother’s lovely belly in a way she never actually allowed (but I do.).

  5. mshell67 said,

    January 21, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    My fiance and I have a big belly love between the two of us. In bed, we love lying belly to belly, since both of ours are considerable. I find it comforting and warm, I really love it. I used to hate my belly, but now I think of it as a wonderful thing.

  6. thoughtracer said,

    January 21, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I love all these comments about bellies!

  7. Orodemniades said,

    January 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Yes. As I’ve gotten bigger in my pregnancy it’s been a steep learning curve not to be ashamed of my belly. I mean, I looked pretty pregnant before I got pregnant, and now I look like I’m carrying a minimum of twins – and I’ve got 7 weeks to go!

    Does make me wonder, though, if my belly’s going to hang to my knees once the kid is born…

  8. Kat said,

    January 21, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    What a nice post. I have never thought that much about my belly. I know I’ve always hated it. It is where I carry most of my weight. I know I screech when my husband wants to touch it. My belly has always been off limits…too disgusting and undeserving of a loving touch.

    I’m going to work on this. Next time the hub wants to touch my belly, I’m going to let him and see what happens.

  9. thoughtracer said,

    January 21, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    I remember reading a column a number of years back by a guy regarding his adventures in dating. It was like in Cosmo or some other fluff women’s magazine. He talked about how he was on the couch with his girlfriend, and he gently laid his arm on her, so that his hand curled on her belly. And he felt her suck it in. He was bothered by that, because he didn’t care what her belly looked like or felt like. He appreciated its softness. I always thought that was sweet and always wanted to be with someone who was like that. A belly lover.

  10. caseyatthebat said,

    January 21, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Oooooh! Belly Lover! I love it! I’d love to put that on a pair of underwear!

  11. thoughtracer said,

    January 21, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    OMG. Or a t-shirt!

  12. katriona said,

    March 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    hi thoughtracer,

    sorry, maybe its my complete technological ineptitude but err..i couldnt find any other way to contact you…

    anyways, i love your writing, ive been reading your blog since it was added to the fatosphere blogroll, and i adore this piece on bellies..

    i am making a zine for the University of Calgary women’s resource center (up here in the great white north..aka canada..) and i was wondering if i could put this piece into it? with your name and info, or anonymous, whatever you like..

    anyways my email is tehe underscore flutterby at hotmail dot com, please let me know if youd be ok with that.

    thank you for writing 🙂
    katriona

  13. January 27, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    My boyfriend has recently confessed he loves my belly. Truth is, I’m not a fan of mine. It has a few dark scars. He’s always asking to see them, and kiss them. I think it’s real sweet. Today we were messing around and he insisted to feel it. Sadly, I didn’t let him.


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