Give Up On A Flat Stomach, Folks -- Let's Celebrate The VBO

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Originally Published: 
Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

You had a baby. Perhaps you had more than one baby. Perhaps, like me, you had several babies. Or maybe you are raising a child you didn’t biologically carry. Or you lost your baby.

Maybe when you got pregnant the first time, you had a flat stomach. Maybe it was perfect, the teenage-dream belly, a flat, perfect plane of skin that ran in one line straight from your breasts to your … you know. Maybe back then you could look straight down and see your … you know … without leaning forward a teensy bit. Maybe you mostly still can, kinda.

But you, very likely, don’t have a flat stomach. Short of surgery, you will probably never have a flat stomach again.

Give. It. Up.

As we say in the South, let go and let God.

And the Lord God, the universe, the flying spaghetti monster, or basic human evolution decided when a woman got pregnant, her stomach would stretch. After this stretching, there would be no need for her body to look the same as it did before. It didn’t need to. She was fine the way she was. So her formerly flat stomach remained somewhat stretched. No longer did she look like she used to; she looked like she’s a mom.

That’s because she is a mom.

So after you have a baby, even if you lost alllllll the baby weight, even if you fasted yourself down to the same weight you had in high school, your stomach will probably never look the same. It will never tighten up. It will never completely flatten out. Your formerly flat stomach will pooch. It will squish, or sag, or maybe some skin will hang down in weird little wrinkly folds (I have weird little wrinkly folds).

Give it up, folks.

Yeah, you could get surgery to take care of that. And that’s okay. Your body, your choice. But many of us don’t have the money/time/inclination/desire to do so. We look exactly the way we’re supposed to look. We look like we had a baby.

Make it normal, people. Let’s normalize a VBO. Let’s normalize a belly pooch. Let’s normalize squishy bellies. Because they are normal.

Zachary Reed/Reshot

Stop walking around acting like you’re supposed to look any goddamn different. Stop being ashamed. When you look down at your belly and think, “God, if only I looked …” just shut that shit down. Your body is beautiful and amazing.

They have built an entire industry on making you think that you should have a flat stomach. It’s called “shapewear.” It’s clingy and sweaty and sticky and sometimes makes it hard to breathe, and you tend to bulge out the edges of it. I should know. I wore The Most Popular Of Shapewear for years, come depth of winter or sweltering heat of a Southern summer. I would not allow myself to be seen in public without it. Why? Because if people saw me, they would know I didn’t have a flat stomach.

They knew I didn’t have a fucking flat stomach. I was carting three children everywhere.

Because here’s the other secret: everyone knows you do not have a flat stomach.

If you are someone who has procreated or is raising kids, we know your stomach is (more than likely) not flat. We know it (more than likely) sags or bags or flops or pouches or pokes or shelves or does one or many of the things that the female stomach does when it’s asked to stretch big enough to accommodate an eight pound human being for a certain period of time. Y’all, think about that baby one more time. Close your eyes. From a sheer that-thing-was-in-my-body point of view, that baby was fucking enormous. It literally shifted your vital organs around for the better part of a year. The whole world knows that.

Once you take the shapewear off, you’re left with the same stomach you had before you put it on. What are you going to do, wear that shit to bed? I sure hope not. You deserve comfort.

“Lose the mummy tummy”? Shut the hell up, tabloids and the Western beauty standards driven by capitalism to make us feel bad about ourselves. Moms have tummies. Period.

A flat stomach might be nice. So would some of those really expensive, weird gadgets in the Williams-Sonoma catalog that you wonder who the hell even seriously contemplates buying. So would a unicorn. A unicorn would be cool. I could hang towels on its horn or something.

A flat stomach is about the same. Pretty to look at, but not necessary. Not necessary to be an amazing human. Not necessary to live your best life.

So, try to make your peace with your belly. Look at it. Realize that it will never be the same as before, short of surgical intervention, so you might as well learn to appreciate it for what it is right now. Be less self-conscious. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a crop-top (unless you want to). But you can drop the shame. You don’t have to look like you did before.

You can look like a mom. It’s okay to be a mom. There’s nothing wrong with being a mom. Moms are awesome. So are soft bellies, round bellies, stretch-marked bellies, all the bellies.

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