Hi Dr. Barbara,
I'm 17 and having a self-image situation. I joined an all-girl yoga group a few weeks back and we just got our class uniforms in. Basically, these low rider yoga pants and crop tops. They look cute, but I'm nervous because of something small. I have a huge outie belly button.
I know many people have them. My sister and a friend both do, but mine is really noticeable and I'm real skinny too. It doesn't go in at all and looks like a mushroom on my abs. I know that sounds funny, but it gets more recognized than me.
I've only been to class once with the uniform and several eyes made me uncomfortable. During our back bends, my instructor said, "somebody has an outie," and it felt like I was going to faint. Then we did a partner exercise where a classmate helps you stretch and my partner asked me if something was wrong with my belly button. Of course that hurt. I'm thinking of surgery but mom says my belly button is one of my best features. So I don't know what to do. My doctor told me years ago it should sink in some as I age but that was a long time ago. Now she just says my belly button wants to be seen and I should show it off. Easy for her to say. My best friend says my outie is very weird but adorable at the same time. I wish it was an innie.
So I go back to yoga class Wednesday and I'm nervous. Giggling, staring, and comments are gonna happen.
What should I do, Dr. Barbara?
An Embarrassed Teen
I am so happy that you wrote to me. You, like so many other teen girls, tend to be very self-conscious. There is a tendency to focus on one body part to the exclusion of the rest of the body. Teen girls talk to me all the time about being dissatisfied with their thighs, arms, tummies and other body parts. I understand this. I would, however, like you to consider developing a new personal mantra and way of thinking about your body that will help you feel better. Remember that you are not simply a belly button, a thigh, a pimple etc. You are a young woman with a body, a personality and friends.
Please try not to give your belly button so much power to upset you. I love the suggestion that your belly button makes you unique. Right on. I love that. Just like some of us have wild and crazy curly hair others have pin-straight hair. We need to accept, celebrate and even joke a bit about our differences. A little humor goes a long way. So maybe your belly button does want to be seen just like my curls want to go every which way no matter what I do.
When your teacher or anyone else makes a comment about your belly button, simply nod your head. There is no reason for a classmate or a teacher to comment about it. You already know about your belly button. There is no need to have a discussion about it. Perhaps you can change the topic.
Why not try to be an example for teen girls everywhere by accepting yourself and exuding the confidence of a young woman who accepts herself with all of her unique qualities? If you can do that that would be quite wonderful.
I wish you luck. Enjoy the class and get back to me and let me know how you like yoga!