The Year of #FreeTheNavel

Body image.

The two words we struggle to maintain a positive mindset about. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve always struggled with body image. I had friends growing up that didn’t consider me good enough because of my figure, and I always thought that I was disproportional. I spent a very long time hating the way that I looked and never feeling good enough.

Caption: I have big thighs and knobby knees.

While my struggle was not unique, (nor is it truly over), years of unhappiness over my body shape were exhausting to my self-confidence, and by no means am I the only one who experiences harmful thoughts regarding my body image.

Poor body image in young adults can lead to a variety of health-related problems, including eating disorders, substance abuse, and thoughts or actions of self-harm. All of these are problems that can carry into adulthood. If we aren’t combating negative body image at young ages, then this will lead to a life-long struggle, and I don’t like that idea of a future.

I am sick of hiding my body and feeling ashamed of having fat, cellulite, and stretch marks. They are completely natural, and actually incredibly beautiful. There is nothing wrong with fat, although we’ve all somehow become programmed to thinking that fat is the enemy. Newsflash: roughly five percent of females naturally have the body type that we see on magazine covers and on television shows. Five percent!


That being said, a part of body confidence and body acceptance means no body shaming; including body shaming those who do possess that natural figure. Calling them “skinny bitches” or saying that “real women have curves” simply disregards all of the efforts towards body positivity that we’ve strived to make. We are all “real women” (and men!), and no body type is better than another. (I’ll step off my soap box though, and get back on track).

While I may spend most days tucking my figure away into layers of “flattering” clothing, I wore a crop top one of the last days in April when the weather was gorgeous and the sun beat hot down on our skin, and I received somewhat of an unnecessary comment: “Wow, Abby, I can see a lot of belly!” Confused, I whipped around, tore my shirt up a bit farther and shouted back, “It’s a navel!” The friend who walked next to me looked around like I was a crazy person, and I laughed my way down to where I was headed.

When I received a second comment about my showing belly button, I was appalled at the fact that in our crop-top-wearing society I was suddenly the target of confusion. My second response, which has since stuck, was “Free the Navel!”

Thus, #FreeTheNavel2016 was born.

Caption: #FreeTheNavel2016 #LoveYourTum

#FreeTheNavel2016 is my “radical” movement towards self-love. It’s similar to #FreetheNipple, but much more modest, and slightly more acceptable in our Western society. The following day, I wore yet another crop top, and continued to receive remarks regarding my exposed midriff. I mean… it’s a belly button! We all have them, and mine is quite cute after a laparoscopic appendectomy a few years back. Why shouldn’t I have the right to show it on warm summer-like days when I’m hanging around with my friends?

Although I may not wear crop tops every day for the rest of 2016, and there are some circumstances where it may not be advisable to have much exposed skin, (ie. an interview), #FreeTheNavel2016 is my opportunity to reclaim my body and love it for every scar, birthmark, stretch mark, and “extra” bit of fat.

And I’ll look hella cute doing it.


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