I had a revelation a few weeks ago…… belly buttons are fucking funny.
It’s not like I’d never thought about the function, form and oddity of this body part, but I’d also never had a small child try to force their entire hand inside it either. That in itself, feels really weird.
You see, my daughter Bonnie is super cheeky and super wild. When she smiles it is from ear-to-ear. With a raised eye brow, she always anticipates your own smile back. When she giggles, it’s contagious. It distracts and takes away any solemn thought that may try to clamber its way in. It’s funny how we all try so hard to meditate, do yoga, listen to calming forest sounds to combat our stress, I certainly do. Even when I sometimes feel knee deep in sleepless nights, massive poo filled nappies, runny noses, and tantrums, she can still always manage to sweep it under the rug in a second with that look.
So the other night, when she climbed up on me and began to wiggle my post preggers pot, I realised I had to let go. I mean I never had washboard abs to compare, but also hadn’t quite ever experienced the Homer Simpson effect. You know that one when you wobble your tummy and it continues to wobble for a few seconds after you move your hand? Well if you didn’t know this, if you have kids, try it, I beg you, they think it is the funniest thing ever. Then just wait till you reveal your belly button. For Bonnie, it’s like I’ve uncovered a plate of Hey Duggies, a bowl of berries or a park for her to run crazy in. Even funnier, is her attempt to burrow her baby, little hand in, it’s almost like she is trying to pull herself back inside.
I do have an actual point to this, other than just belly buttons are fucking funny. Besides, that they make kids lose it.
See all that laughing of hers, makes me laugh. It makes me smile ear-to-ear and I see my own cheeky, childish grin, that is now mirroring me in Bonnie. It makes me stop thinking about the ab crunches that I should do, the chocolate cake that I shouldn’t eat, the wine I often want to drink, it makes me just stop and go –this is the most important thing. I need to be able to laugh at my body, know that I’m now rocking that one-piece bathing suit over the skimpy bikinis (who am I kidding I never wore those), say to myself I am beautiful and accept my imperfections because in fact, she thinks I am just perfect. If only we all looked at ourselves with the proud, in awe eyes of our children –wouldn’t that be a crazy thought?
It’s a hard reality to face that there are just so many images of what we are supposed to be, supposed to look like and that healthy is more than often portrayed as young, tanned and skinny. That for women; the beautiful, curvy sizes are often shunned and made to feel disgusted by themselves. I’ve always tried to live my life without buying into these concepts, but it is hard when it is repeatedly shoved down your face with endless forms of media. I can’t even believe that getting plastic surgery is now becoming the new fad, I actually gasp when I see covers of the trash mags. As much as we think things are changing, the hard facts are, girls as young as 3 or 4 know what the word fat is and that scares the shit out of me. Especially when Bonnie is not far off that age.
When I see kids get up and dance in the middle of a shopping centre, dress into mismatched outfits, run nude and free through sprinklers or when I pull Bonnie’s pants up way past Harry high pants status and she just grins because she has absolutely no concept of her appearance or her weight. These are the things that I want to protect.
I saw this picture the other day with a wrinkled, older lady and the words “if only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be.” This struck me, because it so true. It shouldn’t be about the outer layers, it should be about what you value, how you treat and respect all people and how you do the same for yourself. I’m sick of hearing people being shamed by how they look, if they are larger it must be because they are lazy. So those men and women who are naturally bigger boned, but run marathons, does that mean that they too are lazy? Seriously….
I see the only way forth is to start with myself. Since becoming a mother, I have especially found the pressure to be a super mum. One who can work, look after their home, their child and find the time to stay fit, healthy and trim. I had this big box of pre baby clothes that I convinced myself that I would fit into. Not only did that make me feel shit, it took up valuable space for storing baby keepsakes and crafts, and importantly, new clothes that actually fit me.
So instead of approaching my cupboard space with angst and trepidation, I threw that box out, started again and decided to educate myself. I read blogs about positive body image, try to watch documentaries like Embrace or Miss Representation, stop myself or others talking badly about their bodies, keep myself fit and healthy not for fear of extra weight, but for fitness and wellbeing. I also don’t beat myself up if I occasionally want to have that piece of cake or wine with dinner too. I certainly don’t shy away from nudie runs around the house as I don’t want Bonnie to feel shame or awkwardness about her body. I wiggle my wobble just so I can crack a smile out of my daughter and I try not let society push my self-confidence button in negative ways. On my off days- as we all have them, I just need to remind myself that this body gave birth to the most brilliant, cheeky little thing and that is far more important that anything.
Because really who wants to talk about that kind of stuff when you could get down to the deep, and layered conversation starter, that belly buttons are fucking funny.