'Foods to eat for a flatter stomach', 'Exercises guaranteed to bust your belly', 'How to get a flat tummy and maintain it' - the list of articles promoting what's often considered the ultimate body goal is endless. And I bet you've read your fair share of them. How many? Enough to feel rubbish about not taking their advice and consequently having a tummy that resembles a permanent food baby rather than a washboard. I am right there with you.
You needn't feel so bad for choosing Ben and Jerry's over burpees though because women are not supposed to have flat stomachs, science says so. Our middles are not only home to our digestive and reproductive organs but they 'need extra padding for protection' as Marci Anderson Evans - a registered dietician - points out in a powerful blog post.
The entry is entitled 'Does This Uterus Make Me Fat?' and shines a light on the fact women have a uterus - i.e. one of the key players in the baby-making process - and therefore it's not natural for our bellies to be flat, contrary to what Instagram will have you believe.
To give you some context: the original post appeared on her client's blog (which has now been closed down) and she gave Evans the permission to share her message with her followers.
It starts: "Thanks to Photoshop, it's very easy for women to forget what a 'real' woman's body looks like. My mother used to refer to it as her kangaroo pouch. The endless messaging of 'targeting those hard to reach lower abdominals' in our core workouts, combined with the airbrushing out of any softness in a woman's lower belly has completely eradicated an all important fact from our minds - Women. Have. A. Uterus."
The author is a firm believer of the mantra 'a picture speaks a thousand words' and goes onto illustrate the point with real-life and post-edit pictures of champion tennis player Serena Williams which are hilariously captioned: "Before and after uterus castration".
It's plain to see that Serena's stomach has been tucked in and smoothed over, rendering her baby-making organs and, as a result, her female identity non-existent. The blogger explains further: "By smoothing out (and airbrushing in) her stomach area, you are essentially removing that which makes her female, and you are perpetuating a myth that there is such a thing as a concave lower belly that occurs naturally, and not through extreme starvation. In essence, anorexia does the same thing to a woman as the Photoshopped picture above - it removes the womanhood from the female, and creates a little girl. It removes any purposefulness, other than to be looked at through (or consumed by) the male gaze."
The issue is particularly close to the author's heart as she has overcome her own battle with anorexia which left her unable to menstruate - another defining characteristic of the female form. She finishes on a strong note, encouraging women everywhere to celebrate their 'kangaroo pouch' rather than wishing a six-pack would take its place.
"Instead of lamenting my 'kangaroo pouch', I thank it. I send it warm thoughts on how grateful I am that it is working properly. I continue to nourish my body and I recognize that underneath all the Photoshopping, all women, everywhere, have a uterus.
"Even if you don't want kids, isn't that a comforting thought?"
We certainly think so.
Do you agree with the points raised in this piece? Share your thoughts with us @soFeminineUK
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