THE BLOG

#HealthyBellySelfie Awareness Takes Off

02/10/2015 01:05 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2015

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We Don't Need Photoshop To Look Healthy

I think about the 15-year-old me often. Like I'm trying to go back in time to fix something but I can't, really. The only thing I can change is the now.

You are about to take part in a revolutionary self-confidence initiative leading up to Valentine's Day.

Here's the scoop.

In search of some real body inspiration, I Googled: "regular women's stomachs, normal man's belly, real stomach, normal belly, regular woman in bra, healthy men without six pack..." All I could find were extreme images. I found thin women, most likely retouched in photoshop, and then I found heavier women squeezing the fat around their belly in contempt. Nothing in between -- or at least realistically normal. Like mothers with stretch marks practicing yoga. No thin woman admitting that she's always judged by her body and rarely celebrated for intelligence. Where was the moderately toned women doing something inspiring, like a handstand or finishing a 5k?

The Google searches I came across for normal men's bodies were even more appalling. They were completely a misrepresentation of most of the men I know. The men in the image searches looked like they ate Popeye's can of spinach right after they came out of a spray tan booth... macho, six pack and tanned dudes in women's underwear -- or was it? And then I found extremely heavy men with bellies so large that they joked about using it as a tray for their dinner plate or beer bottle. Again, nothing balanced really. Nothing "in between," like the guys I usually see in my yoga studio. Or the men that prefer community sports over the gym.

This is what media's new normal is.

Where's the balance? Is extremism really the only way to get our attention or break the Internet? What are we teaching each other? That we can only grow to be depressingly thin or joke about being so unhealthy and making poor lifestyle decisions. (And eating off our bellies? Ew.)

The 15-year-old me would have appreciated seeing a positive change. A viral network of healthy, real people showcasing their belly with no retouching or photo shop. I would have benefitted from seeing a real person with a real body who's actually healthy. A picture that would say, "I'm healthy, I'm fit, I'm normal, and my size is just a number. I'm not afraid to show off my vulnerabilities if it reinforces that I am #BiggerThanMyBody, and you are, too." A collaborative media push to promote self-confidence and health at every size. That's what the 15-year-old me could have used.

She would have wanted us to rewrite the way media depicts healthy.

This movement would have saved me 10 miserable years of eating disorders and supplemented me with enough self-confidence to overcome a depressing amount of body dysmorphia and the pursuit of plastic surgery.

We have the chance to rewrite history. To flood the Internet with healthy pictures and stories for the 15-year-old me.

What really matters, in my opinion, is the effort. The effort to choose health over vanity. The effort to let go of strict social ideas of body image and shamelessly embrace the blessing we already have. The effort to just own it. Soft belly, stretch marks, pregnant belly, six pack abs or not, scars, bloated stomach, outie bellybutton -- whatever. We own it.

And the #Belfie Project was born.

The #Belfie Project is for real people with real bodies. It's a chance to rewrite the images that pop up online under, "normal healthy body." It's a chance to influence a generation that buys into six pack abs, and teach them that their soul is worth a lot more than that. For the #Belfie project, you don't need to squeeze your stomach fat or skip a meal before your picture, because you're perfect just the way you are.

Real people. Real bodies.

We don't need photoshop to look perfect -- we're good enough just as we are.

What is a #Belfie?

A healthy belly selfie. And a chance to share your personal journey: Why is your belly healthy?

Examples:

"My belly is healthy because I just gave birth to a healthy baby boy. #belfie #healthybellyselfie @mykindoflife_em"

"I'm healthy because I choose to eat real food. #belfie #healthybellyselfie #eatrealfood @mykindoflife_em"

"This is what a healthy belly looks like after running a 5k in 30 degree weather #commit. #belfie #healthybellyselfie #runeverydamnday @mykindoflife_em"

"My belly has been with me through 16 different sizes, and it's happy and healthy as it is, just in this moment. #belfie #healthybellyselfie @mykindoflife_em #selflove #selfconfidence "

What is the goal?

Women and men flood social media with the goal of 214 pictures of healthy bellies before Valentine's Day 2015.

What will we accomplish?

Exposure for real people to feel more human by seeing real healthy belly selfies from normal people with honest stories. This post will continue a self-love initiative leading up to Emily's nonprofit Topless Tour event in San Francisco on Valentine's Day weekend.

When can I start posting?

The #Belfie Project post starts now! Join in and share your #Belfie on all social media channels--Our goal is to have 214 #Belfies before Valentine's Day.

Why am I asking for your help?

I believe in your story and how it will touch someone in need of inspiration and self-confidence.

What you need to do:

Post a picture of your #Belfie on social media, and use the trending hashtags, #Belfie and #HealthyBellySelfie. Make sure to tag @MyKindofLife_Em in your picture so we can comment on & count how many beautiful #Belfies we've sent out to the universe. Your #Belfie can be any picture of you with your belly exposed -- it does not need to include your face. You can take your #Belfie with your friends, in a yoga pose, with family, by yourself in a mirror, on the beach, in the yoga studio...get creative. We're inspiring health at all sizes. Extra points if you take your #Belfie after a workout!

Let your followers know why your belly is a healthy. (Ex: I just gave birth to a healthy baby. I just ran a 5k. I just finished a healthy meal at home my family.)

Don't forget!

4 Things to know for your #Belfie:

1. Include the hashtag: #HealthyBellySelfie & #Belfie.
2. Tag @MyKindofLife_Em in your picture & in comment. (This is how we count the #Belfies)
2. Picture should show your healthy belly. (Examples below.)
3. Answer: Why is your belly healthy?
4. Nominate 3 friends to share their #Belfie within 24 hours.
Together, we can.

I'm so touched that you want to align with The #Belfie Project, promoting this powerful and healthy self-confidence initiative before Valentine's Day.

No wrong way to take a #HealthyBellySelfie for the #Belfie self-confidence project:

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"There's no such thing as a completely healthy belly. How dare we not celebrate this. I actually like having a belly, personally I feel more feminine." -- Mikaela Reuben

Group photo Mark Kuroda

Original post from My Kind of Life

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If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.