you want me to write something funny, something clever, something about
airplanes. Okay, but itís not about airplanes, itís about the body, things
on the inside, things on the outside, and whatís appropriate. Specifically,
when and where one should or should not show belly. At the beach, sure.
At home, whatever. While belly dancing? I guess, if thatís your thing.
Maybe at a club, but I donít think so. Not at work, not at church, definitely
not in restaurants. The beach? Okay, sure. A pool, Iíll give you that.
Working out? Pretty iffy. What Iím concerned about here is not the bikini
or the sports braóthese items obviously reveal belly and do so for a purpose.
The problem is with belly that is intentionally revealed by the decision
to wear a shirt (with or without sleeves) that is cropped to reveal said
The underlying conditions of the fashion
decisions to show belly are, apparently and unfortunately, rooted in the
desire for inappropriate, unwarranted attention. It is insecurity, a lack
of feeling loved, watching too much Baywatch, and/or a confusion regarding
the norms of society that drive a woman (or a man, if we may go so far)
to make the decision to reveal his/her midriff. Or is it?
Now I donít want to appear a prude, I fully
support naked love, but I have to, I feel I must, plant a firm foot against
the unregulated use of stomach. Furthermoreówhat, exactly, is the stomach?
If we are to concern ourselves with the accredited sciences of medicine
and anatomy, we must concede that the strip of skin from beneath oneís
breast to slightly above the pubis is not really the stomach. The stomach
is an organ. Inside the body. The misappropriated naming of this region
as stomach is imprecise and only further exacerbates the confusion over
When we speak about the female stomach
we talk of tummies, bellies, midriffsóinfantile and inaccurate terms.
I know Iím opening doors now: feminism, body imageóbut truthfully Iím
not trying to discuss this in some big deal philosophical way, I just
want to know: when is it appropriate to show belly and what purpose does
Would I be a happier, more liberated person
if I showed my stomach? I think not. I flirt the tummy, a button-down
shirt with the last button undone. Yeah, I get attention. The problem
here is that I donít want to generalize, I donít want to punish. I donít
want to say that women who show belly are sluts or whores. And yet, showing
belly is often a flagrant disregard for a certain kind of propriety.
There is no honor, no honor at all, in
reducing oneself to a poorly named section of the body. Reduction never
gets to any kind of truth. And if one must succumb to synecdoche, could
one pick a body part with a little less baggage? Umbilical cords, ovaries,
placentas, the miracle of birthóitís too complicated to even think about.
How about the kneecap, the elbow, the ankle, the collarboneótheyíre all
underrated and underused. But what do I know? Once, back in high school,
I licked peanut butter out of a gentlemanís belly button. (I was fifteen,
he was sixteen.) I also think I sucked on his toes that night.