There’s been a lot of talk about gaining weight during lockdown recently and not being “summer body ready”, but seriously what does it even mean to have a beach ready body?!
All shapes are beautiful but it’s not easy to always believe that when we’re constantly shown flat tummies, flawless skin and toned physiques in the media and advertising.
One woman on a mission to try and change the way we think about our figures – in particular our bellies – is Emily Harding.
Emily is a yoga teacher who created the hashtag #ALLBELLIESAREBEAUTIFUL and since posting her eye-opening video in June, she has been inundated with hundreds of messages from people who have related to her revelation.
In the six-minute clip, Emily bravely wears a black bikini top and floral bottoms as she shows off her bloated belly – and oh my is it uplifting!
“I want to talk about bloating and body image,” she says. “I look like this quite frequently, but right now it’s extreme. It’s probably because I’m due on my period in the next few days. And this is something… I don’t want to say I’ve struggled with, but we need to take back this while idea of ‘oh your belly should be small’.”
She continues: “I’ve hated my belly in the past, I’ve hated that it sticks out. I’ve been conditioned to think it should be smaller.”
However, Emily had somewhat of a wake-up call after having a Reiki session with a woman who told her: “Round is a shape and round is a beautiful shape, just like all the other shapes. Who has told you that round is not a worthy shape?” And now Emily is keen to try and pass that message on – and we couldn’t be happier.
Speaking to Uspire, Emily said the response to her video has been “overwhelming and massively uplifting”.
“I honestly had hundreds of comments and messages and it seemed like the video had really struck a chord with a lot of people, with some even saying it was the only thing that had recently made its way past all the years of conditioning they had experienced in having to ‘have’ a flat tummy,” she told us.
“It showed me that actually this is a huge area of body image that needs shouting about, for both men and women, as often this is the one part of the body that no matter how hard you train, how healthy and ‘careful’ you are, often can be wildly outside of your control and that can lead to devastating mental health effects, particularly in women.”
However, Emily did admit that she was reluctant to post the clip to her 4,488 followers on Instagram.
“I never had any intention of even filming it, but I got so upset and something inside me just snapped and I filmed it, it was the most liberating outpouring of emotion,” she explained.
“It took the love and support of a close friend of mine to help me find the strength to literally bare all! She told me (and rightly so!) that it was incredibly powerful medicine, and the exact medicine that everyone needed to see. So that helped me to go for it!”
But Emily knows it’s not always easy to love your body, so we asked her what advice she would give to someone looking to start the shift…
“Of course everyone’s body is so unique and the journey so different for all, as everyone has different things they’re so zoned in on. Truly though, for everyone, I can’t recommend enough starting with a bit of a reality and perspective check. Your body works, your body is not in danger,” she advised.
“If you’re bloated, you’re bloated with delicious food that you found it easy to source and buy. Millions of people around the world don’t even have access to food, sanitation, clean water, healthcare, and we’re worried about our health and happiness because of how we look?
“We are SO privileged and lucky to be in the situation we are. Now, I know that isn’t going to change anyone’s views on themselves overnight, it’s just something I personally find really helpful if I’m spiralling into a bad place by being too zoomed in on myself.
“For me, what I found most liberating was to share my belly (in this case online!), and start to embrace it’s roundness and fullness.
“ROUND IS A BEAUTIFUL SHAPE, who’s told you it’s not? We have to decide for ourselves, and find the strength and courage not to buy into the industries that want to keep making us feel like crap to take our money,” she continued.
“To start a shift of being comfortable in your own skin, I’d say it’s really important to challenge negative thoughts about your body when they arise, apply the filter of ‘reality check’ and instead mindfully speak to yourself about how that negative is actually a positive. There’s always a positive.
“Look for what you LOVE about your body, not loathe. Consciously look for, and celebrate, the things your body CAN do, not the things you think it can’t.
“I can’t recommend enough, to share your belly in a snap online or a story, it’s like sticking a stake in the ground to say, this is me, this is how I look, I am normal, I am beautiful, this is a beautiful NORMAL body. There’s so many edited, warped, filtered, photoshopped images out there, we need to start trying to even that out with images of REAL bodies!”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! So, what are you waiting for? Now that summer’s here, show your belly some love and the recognition it deserves because all shapes are something to shout about!