I pulled on the denim shorts I wear as a bathing suit. The waist of the shorts come up just under my belly button, holding my stomach in. I put on the loose top I swim in. It hides my belly.
Then I look in the mirror and tuck the bottom part of my shirt under my breasts and pull down the waist of my shorts so my belly is hanging over it.
I stand like a dancer with attitude and smile at my reflection, at my body, my belly.
I look great, I think to myself.
And I wasn’t just saying it, like I had a million times before as an affirmation. I was feeling it.
I actually believed it. I really thought I looked great. Strong prominent belly, unafraid to show herself.
I took the five minute drive to the Battenkill river and went for a swim.
I’m not hiding my belly anymore.
The hiding is the worst part. When I’m hiding, it feels like there really is something to be ashamed or scared of. That there really is something wrong with me.
Now when I look down and see my dress pressed against my belly, I feel like I have power over myself, instead of feeling ugly.
I feel beautiful and powerful and sexy – but for me, not for someone else. It has so much to do with the way I’m holding myself, the lifted chest, shoulders down, no more hiding. My attitude. This is me.
Baring my belly in Belly Dancing Class was a big part of this for me.
And it continues to be, because every time I dance in class with other women, no matter how good or bad I do, I feel good about myself. I’m not even sure why. Maybe I’ll figure it out the more I do it. I do believe it has something to do with sharing the experience.
Another thing that happened, is that I took a challenge from my friends Mandy and Athena to send them a picture of my belly for one month.
The picture of me above is one of them. I’ve sent 14 pictures so far.
The first few were tough to take and send. I hesitated hitting that little arrow on my phone. But now I look forward to figuring out a good way to get a picture of my belly. It’s a very personal and creative process.
I never imagined me posting a picture of myself with my stomach exposed on my blog. But it came to the point where it was just the next thing to do. The next step to take. Part of healing and honesty. Part of being real.
Hiding is like silence, when words need to be spoken, when truth needs to be told. It steals our soul and slowly kills our self, growing shame and fear in its place.