Freed Bodyworks celebrates all bodies as they are - but we know it's tough work to embrace our whole selves in a world that demands we be different. Massage therapist Kelly Bowers shares her brave reflections on cultivating belly love at 55:
I once had to stop someone from repeatedly hitting my mom in the belly. The person I had to stop was my mom.
My mom’s belly – large, round, and smooth like an apple – represented everything she hated about her body. She hated a lot of things about her body. When she began hitting herself that day she’d just received some lab results from her doctor that showed that things were getting worse in her body. So, of course, she started pummeling her own belly.
When my own belly began to grow in my mid-30s I was disgusted and ashamed and angry. I wouldn’t touch it and I hated looking at it in the mirror. After a few years I recognized the destructiveness of my self-hate. By hating my belly I was hating myself for having that belly. I began intentionally looking at my belly and rubbing it whenever I thought of it. It’s now automatically the first thing I do every morning.
Which doesn’t mean I don’t stare at it in the mirror and wish it were smaller. A few years ago I developed a permanent small bowel obstruction which distends my stomach dramatically. From the bottom of my breasts to my pubic bone, my belly is looking more and more like my mom’s – large, round and smooth like an apple. A large apple.
A year or two ago I found myself fantasizing that I magically woke up with the belly I had at 45. But then remembered that at 45 I wanted the belly I had at 35. And at 35 I wanted the belly I had at 25. (At 25 I was mostly happy with the belly I had.) Which meant that, hmmmm, this 55-year-old belly that I’m now carrying could be the belly I would be longing for at 65.
That day I decided to start looking at my belly as though I were already 65. To pretend that I had wished this belly into existence 10 years from now. It doesn’t mean I don’t sigh in resignation when I look at vacation pictures with my big ol’ round belly sticking out. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated when I’m having a bad belly day and my pants don’t fit well. Those things still happen.
But every day I look in the mirror at my belly and my whole body and find my Eyes of Love and at least for a few minutes use them to see me (because my belly is me) with gentleness, acceptance, and peace.
To see me the same way I see my clients. As wonderful whatever shape I’m in.