I’m Not Hiding My Belly Anymore

Me and my belly. Wearing my choli and belly dancing skirt.

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.






38 thoughts on “I’m Not Hiding My Belly Anymore

  1. My goodness, Maria, you have a beautiful belly! A body is simply a body; it’s the good that we use it for that matters.

    My belly is an old woman’s belly that has held 3 gorgeous children and shows it. My husband loves it and thanks it for making our family. So sweet!

    Let’s be proud of who we are, body and soul!

  2. Hooray Maria,
    Your belly IS beautiful! You have inspired me. I have hidden my belly for 50 years. Thank you! Tess

  3. You go girl! Looking good!
    Many, many moons ago when I was in college I hung out with some friends that were belly dancers (I was 99 lbs soaking wet back then and they were middle aged). They were not ashamed of their bodies. A valuable lesson for me as a very young woman.

    1. Beth, I remember seeing the confidence that some of the middle aged models had in my drawing classes when I first when to art school. I envied them. And I loved drawing their soft beautiful bodies.

  4. In the era of body shaming everyone forgets that every body is beautiful and the body is a reflection of ones life.

  5. You do look great. I started to say I wish my belly looked that good, but then I stopped and thought “I am what I am, why feel bad about that?” The belly is always where I first gain weight and the older I get the harder it is to fight that but I have to remember my body is still working and that’s what matters.
    You look great, Maria, and the belly dancing class is great for you, I’m sure. Enjoy!

  6. This made me cry. I have never in my whole life ever felt anything but shame and loathing for my body. Years of a mother who told me how worthless I was and then many years of society and me telling myself the same. But this post has made me stop and think . Maybe I can find a way to love myself and what I have been given.
    The last 2 lines spoke so much to me.
    Thank you.

  7. Such a wonderful inspiring post so full of self acceptance and strong beginnings of self love which sadly so many women lack. I embraced my belly years ago when I first attended a Belly dance class, there was such a feeling of sisterhood among the women dancing you couldn’t help feel the love. You look wonderful in the photo.

  8. Beautiful, Maria.

    At first I thought, “What belly?” Mostly because I have a much more substantial belly than you do. Then I re-read your post and considered that you have a belly and I have a belly. They’re different, just like our faces, our hands or our feet.

    You DO look great. So do I. We all look different and confidence is sexy and real. Thank you.

  9. OH, MARIA! OH, OH, OH!! I HARDLY KNOW WHAT TO SAY!!The only thing more beautiful than this delightful, strong pic of you is your insight. Thank you so much, Annie

  10. You are so gorgeous! I love your smile! I have been ashamed of my big buttocks with a small waist for many years. I always hidden my curvy figure…till last month. My friend convinced me that I am really blessed with my curvy body. I started to dress differently and I was getting compliments about my figure. For first time , at 53 years old, I feel great about my body!! It is so rewarding to feel like that !! I am so proud of you for doing this blog!

    1. What a beautiful story Lori! I feel like I want to dress different too now. Like I don’t want to hide my body anymore. Thank you for sharing your story!

  11. Catching up on my blog reading, just want you to know I think your beautiful! I am a serial belly camouflage expert. Your courage inspires and as I sit here with my big comfy soft belly, I think, what’s not to love! I am strong and able, let it all hang out! Terri B

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