Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Middle Of It

Body parts have, throughout history, taken it in turns to be rude, unacceptable and positively illegal. Whilst the Victorians found ankles the height of offense, just a few years previously ball dresses were cut down to the bosom and were by no means full length. It seems each generation has its own paranoia about showing off certain parts of the anatomy; for the poor Victorians it was the entirety, the flappers of the 1920s did the utmost to conceal their breasts and legs were hidden for years. Our generation has moved on from all this; legs are celebrated, breasts a mere part of walking down the high street and bottoms revealed in the tightest body con. One thing that hasn’t quite penetrated the liberal mind of the average Brit is the stomach. The midriff, navel, abdomen. Whatever you want to call it. An inch or two will be glossed over, especially if it’s a loose fitting top, but the tight, short cropped top? Even if it were a high neck, long sleeved piece paired with a midi it would still be met with disapproving looks. Even on a night out. Even in Hull. (Ok, so the test piece was worn with a mid-thigh skirt. What’s a few inches between friends?)
What is it about this seemingly innocent area that has made it the unwitting victim of society’s disapproval? Perhaps we have become desensitised to other areas through over exposure, both in reality and in the media, which and have sought another cause for embarrassment and horror. The stomach, of course, is usually covered through sheer practicality; no one wants a chilly tummy. Perhaps, however, the reason is deeper than this. A woman’s stomach is the nest in which babies grow, essentially the future of humanity. It is vulnerable and tender. If we feel nervous, we cross our arms, creating a barrier between our abdomen and the world and according to the BBC,  40% of women who would like to change something about their body would change their stomachs. Indeed, a recent abs class at the gym had a staggering majority of women with only a couple of brave men, apparently fighting for their six packs.
Maybe we simply don’t like seeing the midriff because it reminds us of what we haven’t got. The only girls who (should) reveal theirs are the annoyingly slender, toned morsels who must have my share of will power as well as their own, incurring a deep envy in the women in their vicinity. As for those who definitely shouldn’t be showing off what they have in abundance, those looks of disgust are quite simply that. Looks of disgust.
Don’t think I’m against the idea of exposing my navel to the world, I simply don’t understand the negative result that doing so incurs. Why has wearing virtually nothing more than underwear in public become expected yet that nice, flat expanse of harmless flesh in middle is almost sinful? Try it. I dare you. It’s liberating.

1 comment:

  1. Haha this is an interesting topic Charlotte. Living in South Asia, one of the weird things I notice here is that the navel is the only bit that IS acceptable to show off to the world. Dressed up in saris, the women here are pretty much all covered up apart from their midriff. It doesn't matter how old they are, how pregnant, how fat, they let it all hang out!

    I think the taboo of showing off the midriff is a sad sign of Western culture making women loose touch of what is is to be a woman. As you rightly point out, this is the part of us that hides our womb. The part of us that one day will stretch and become home to a baby. We should be celebrating that, not hiding it away as though being a mother or having some flab that will eventually protect a child is a bad thing.