Like most American women, I’ve struggled with my body image since I was about 8 years old. Of course, it didn’t get really crazy until I got to High School. I was bored and intellectually unchallenged at my high school, a destructive combination for me, and I became obsessed with what I perceived to be my physical imperfections. I struggled with an eating disorder for about six months before I got angry and decided I didn’t want to hurt myself anymore. But ever since, I’ve hated my belly, where I really manifested a lot of my body image issues.
Apparently, I’m not the only one! Turns out many women have a complicated relationship with their bellies.
Which brings me to The Belly Project. Started by Dr. Karen Rayne and Midwife Christy Tashjian, the site aims to show all kinds of bellies, from young to older, from pregnant to washboard and everything in between. They write on their site:
…perhaps nothing is as preoccupying to us as our bellies. Our bellies are intimately related our sexuality and to our reproductive lives.
We will include pictures of women’s bellies, their age, and the number of pregnancies, abortions, and miscarriages they have had.
This site made me realize that I only ever see two types of bellies about 95% of the time; those of models and those of pregnant models, which definitely gives us all an unbalanced perception about the variety of women’s bodies. It is so rare that we see regular women’s bellies, and after looking through the gallery I had a totally new perspective on my own! So much so that I contributed my own belly and details to the project. And this has all helped me think about my body differently, and more kindly.
The site’s been featured on tons of blogs, including Glamour.com, Jezebel, The Feminist Majority, and others. What an amazing and creative use of the Internet to shed some light on a subject that is endlessly discussed, but often hard to tackle in a concrete way.