Pudgy, chubby, plump, round, fat, poochy...however you say it, it's a reality: I have a big belly. Not enormous, just big: big enough to hang over my pants, big enough that I can grab a large handful of fat from it, big enough that it has been pointed out to me in public. I have always been pudgy in the belly--nowhere else. When I was a kid, my parents used to tell me that I had a "cute little poochy tummy," and at the time I was horrified. Other kids used to say, "Anna's belly jiggles like jelly!" and I was just as upset. Now as an adult, I have come to a greater appreciation of my belly. It took a long time, but I can now accept that I'm how I am meant to be.
There are several things I like about my belly. I like that it is soft and round. Sometimes when I am stressed, I lie down and rub it because it is soothing. I like my deep belly button. I don't really know why: I just think that thinner people have strange-looking belly buttons. I like that my lower belly is pudgier than my upper belly. My partner thinks a little pooch is cute, espeically when I am wearing my swimsuit. If I get a bellyache, my partner likes to rub my belly and make me feel better. Some people may think all this is weird, but I don't care anymore. I have a pudgy belly, and I am proud of it. I don't have to worry about how I will look if I gain a little weight, or what people will think if I can't squeeze into the same size all the time. My belly already has a lot of fat: it's ok if it gets a little rounder every once in a while.
My belly used to be larger than it is now. At one time, my belly was so big that I could pinch several handfuls of fat from it. The changes in weight, all due to medication changes, were hard to accept...but I have accepted them, and even when I was obese I was able to accept my belly and love it anyway. During that time, I had the privilege of participating in a photography project that my friend was doing. Her project was to take pictures of the bodies of realistic-looking women--not just thin women. This gave me a great opportunity to love and appreciate my belly even more. I now have photos of me rubbing and petting my belly, exploring my belly button, and lovingly pinching a bit of my lower belly pooch. My favorite series of shots is supposed to depict the struggle between pressure to be an extremely thin woman instead of a normal-sized woman in today's world. In the first picture, a thin girl is poking my belly and I glare at her. In the second picture, I sadly look down at my chubby belly and grab a handful of fat. In the final picture, I look happily down at my beautiful belly and rub it lovingly.
When I used to struggle with my opinion of the way I look, I once talked with a woman who believes firmly in meditation based upon the body. She encouraged me to listen to my belly: not just the gurgles and growls, but to really listen to what it has to tell me. She said that the belly is the body's core, and especially for women it is the center for creativity. That night I went home and did just that. I layed on my bed, rubbed my belly, and thought about what it truly wanted. The first thing that came to mind was food, because obviously all bellies need food. But then I decided that my belly's most important need was love and appreciation. But what is there to appreciate about a belly, especially a large one? Lots, I've found. Not only does my belly feed my body, but it gives me character. A pudgy belly is a distinctive feature which is underappreciated. If we can appreciate large eyes or thick lips, why not fat bellies? Having a chubby belly has also made me a stronger person: I know I do not look like what society wants me to, and because of my belly I have learned to deal with criticisms on my physical appearance from other people. I know that all my friends value me for who I am, not how I appear.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to share this story because I truly love my big belly, and I hope it will always stay soft, round, and plump.