This is what it looks like when I bend over. So if I'm naked, and reaching down to pull the plug out of the bath or pick up a discarded toy, this is what I see. As the three year old so beautifully put it, 'Mummy, when you bend over, your tummy goes all sort of melty-down.'
And I dislike it. I dislike it intensely. I realise this may make me seem shallow and superficial. But I'm afraid that I cannot quite accept the rather dramatic fall from grace my body has experienced; transformed, almost over-night, from something I willingly and happily flaunted, to something I'm keen to keep hidden from view.
You can imagine why the following image caught my eye.
Doing the rounds on facebook, Cassie's Fox's photo of her own tummy when her baby was six months old has been shared thousands of times over. Her image and accompanying words have sparked everything from cathartic release, to spiteful bitchiness. For me, they raised mostly guilt. My tummy looks a bit like this, and yet I have never really so far been able to integrate the way it looks with the gratitude I feel for my children's existence.
I shared her image via the facebook page for my blog, and although some who commented, like me, felt negatively, I was inspired by how many women echoed Cassie's feelings of pride and acceptance in their changed forms.
An artist friend and follower of my blog, Anna Appleby, offered to take these women's words and transform them into a piece of art to be shared here. I am so grateful to her for taking time out from caring for her two small children to create the beautiful image that follows.
The next images are close-ups of the main picture, with some of the words transcribed beneath.
|doughy, squashy, home, mature, mummy's like a zebra, love handles, cuddle|
|womanly, curvy, proud, strong, feminine|
|scarred, striped, complete, someone's left a cake out in the rain|
|stretched, stitched, lucky, powerful|
|powerful, lucky, torn, stitched, stretched, scarred, now empty, complete, stripes|
|nourishing, finally have a purpose, disconnected|
For me, these images, and the little chain of events that led to their creation, has been a welcome challenge to my entirely negative feelings about my melty-down tum. I don't love it yet, and perhaps I never will, but I have certainly nudged a little bit further along the long spectrum of feelings, a small step away from repulsion and disgust, and a tiny tiptoe towards pride and acceptance.
Please feel free to share your own feelings and responses in the comments below.
If you would like to find out more about Anna's art, or would like a print of Acceptance Nude, please contact me, and I will put you in touch!
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