Embodied: Julia’s Story
Our new blog series, Embodied: Letters to reclaim the whole is off to a fantastic start! Here, we share a beautiful piece from Julia Herrington as she shares with us her story of reclaiming her belly fully and completely, now. Thank you, Julia, for your brave honesty and open heart and for letting us in for a glimpse into your inspiring journey.
This blog series is an opportunity for anyone and everyone to reclaim their most hated body part and share it with the world. We believe this is how we can create change for one another. Our hearts long to have the layer of shame seen and lifted. Our bellies, thighs, calves, and arms want to be felt and experienced. Our bodies want to be whole. And the world needs us to reclaim. If you’d like to submit your story, check out our submission guidelines. Your willingness to share your body story, your journey from belly, butt, thigh, or arm hatred to body respect, will be a gift to our community.
He wrapped his arm around you and held you and felt you and touched your soft belly in a post-coital snuggle. Uncomfortably, almost angrily you quickly snatched his hands and removed them. Your belly, you despised. Your belly, you abhorred. You starved, you vomited and mistreated your whole body for the hatred of your squashy belly. Your belly was not loveable, it was undeserving of tender touch. Your softness was to your great shame, as it was inexcusable, as it was your greedy and unconstrained fault.
It had always been this way, since you were young, that soft part was something you had learned to loathe shortly after you had learned to read. You could hardly stand to look upon the wobbly belly that you desperately tried to conceal, to contain to shrink.
Mirrors were horrifying reminders of your worthlessness, so you avoided them. But the soft belly could still be felt, there was nothing firm about it. You would lie down, sit up, stand up and sit down and your malleable tummy would move and with its movement you could sense a growing rage within you. It was in these angriest moments that you would strip down naked before your reflection and spitefully call yourself names. You would pull and tug at your spongy parts until they appeared taut and then you would release your hate filled grip and go on hating all the more. Oh, so much time you spent hating!
He saw no reason
It was that moment, in bed with the man who lovingly touched your squashy tummy and though he only momentarily touched your belly, it strikes you as a turning point. He saw no reason for the disdain and shame that you had always assumed was your obligation for possessing a doughy middle. You had believed that the wobble was an embarrassment, something that made you broken and incomplete, something you needed to strive unendingly to convert and restrain.
It isn’t to say that he made you whole or that you suddenly and magically loved your tummy because of him. In fact, he’s long gone. However, his lack of awareness toward what you perceived to be an obviously nasty body to recoil from, to look upon with shuddering disgust gave you pause for thought. How did he not see what had always been so plain to you? Had you been wrong? Was your body really so unlovely? And isn’t it strange that right around the time you began to read you began to focus your mental energies not on the expansion of your mind but the size and compliance of your belly?
You are grateful to your whole body
Slowly, you began to see your belly differently. You saw it’s softness as a mark of your woman hood. You place your own hands on your middle ever so lovingly now. In retrospect, you see that you wasted countless hours hating yourself and your midsection, distancing yourself from it, disconnecting from it. But now, you inhabit your body, you move in it, you breathe in it, you live in it and you are grateful. You are grateful to your whole body for all that it does every day, but you’re especially grateful to your belly for forgiving you all those years of hate and freely allowing you to love it now. Your belly hasn’t changed, but you have. Your tummy is still squashy, soft, wobbly, malleable, spongy and doughy but these words are no longer words of hatred, they are words of love.
Julia lives in the not-so-sunny-City of Portland, Oregon. On any given day, she’s likely to be found consuming obscene amounts of coffee, running around in the beautiful northwest, cooking delicious food or yapping incessantly about women’s issues. You can read more of her musings at eatingstorieslikegrapes.blogspot.com.