|How I Learned to Love My Buddha Belly
My journey of acceptance of my body, and my belly.
After years of struggle and angst while viewing fashion magazines, I can finally say with all honesty I love and totally accept my little Buddha belly. It’s about as round now as when my son Justin was in it at three months.
I can hide it pretty well, if I must, with girdles and tight panty hose for business meetings, and holding my breath works well in case of emergency. But most of the time, my belly and I have reached a peaceful understanding. It wasn’t always that way.
As a teen, the belly was simply not an issue. I was 6’ tall by age 14, and had always been long-legged and very thin. I ate anything all through high school and I wore skinny bikinis on the then low-key surfer hangout of South Beach years before it became the “US Riviera”.
Once in my twenties, in the college years, I had to diet only a little once in a while to stay size 10. I became obsessed with fashion magazines at that age, and loved all the attention I got from strangers asking me if I was a model. I was, after all, very tall, very slim, and chic-looking. I was young and naive, and believed that I needed to look exactly like those Glamour models from every angle if I was ever to attain a perfect life- a House Beautiful home and a GQ husband. I learned about what I thought was the meaning of life in the many pages of the many magazines I loved to read.
I even went so far as to check out a modeling career. I moved to New York after college at age 23, and discovered that I was too old, or I needed my chin made smaller, there was always some reason why I wasn’t quite good enough. I wasn’t too crushed, since a career in publishing and advertising had much more allure to me.
In 1987 at age 28 I married and immediately became pregnant with my son Justin. I stayed pretty thin during the pregnancy naturally, and after he was born even got a little thinner from nursing him. Things never worked out with his GQ father, we had married after only knowing each other a short time. I knew he looked good to everyone, and eventually he acted on the all the female attention he received, leaving when I was pregnant and never returning. I am certain that my thinness after becoming and unexpected single mother then had some stress attached to it, not to mention my near poverty, which limited how much food we could buy.
Justin was a beautiful Gerber-perfect baby. Everywhere I went people gawked at him telling me how beautiful he was. He was my angel. The gods were merciful to me as a new single Mom, because Justin was such a good baby. He hardly cried, woke up smiling, and was the love and light of my life. While raising him alone was not easy, I would not have chosen any other life but one with Justin in it. I raised him with my maiden name, and tried my best to put the nightmare with his cheating, abusive father behind me.
In my late twenties and early thirties I moved up from a size 10 to a 12. Some 12’s were big, and I liked the extra comfort with that. I was busy working on developing my career and raising Justin, and stayed pretty thin from sheer exhaustion from constant activity and a healthy living diet. Not long into my career, my gift of gab paid off and my career as a sales professional began. I had money, and could finally without worry buy lots of food, and even go out to eat, often if I wished. I could treat myself to Godiva chocolates, and I am to this day convinced they are better than sex and men. They never talk back and you never have to clean their pee off the toilet.
At age 34, after being alone for more than five years, I met another “Mr. Wonderful”, as my father always called the few men in my life. I was happy and settled into domestic bliss with him in my House Beautiful home, and began cooking even more elaborate meals at home and entertaining friends. I felt so satisfied and complete when the house and meals looked Martha Stewart Living perfect. By age 35, my size 12 was bordering on a 14. My little round Buddha belly, now very tanned, was beginning to show so slightly, but I still thought I looked pretty good as I gardened on the patio each weekend in a bikini while Justin laughed and squirted me with the hose running back and forth from his little kiddy pool. I walked every morning around the island we lived on, getting a little sun and staying tone. I did it because it made me feel good, and Lido beach was a beautiful place to take a walk. The firmness was a side benefit.
My new man did not like the changes in my body, and made his feeling known loud and clear. He apparently needed me in a seriously dysfunctional way to look like a Sports Illustrated model again. If I had known he was like that, he would have never become my husband. He rudely announced that just because I was married to him did not mean I was allowed to become a fat housewife. He purchased a treadmill and placed in it the center of the family room, and asked me to please run on it daily. He announced he would be my trainer, and in addition to my duties of working for him, raising my son, and running the home, I was now going to
be on the fitness track and that would be on my schedule each day. He called me from the office when I was working at home asking me so sweetly if I had run yet each day. I placated him verbally, but had made up my mind when the subject came up the very first time that I would never take orders from him, knowing there was nothing major wrong with my body, or the way I looked. The problem was clearly him, and I sadly but quickly realized this marriage was not going to last long.
Things disintegrated from that point, and as the inevitable divorce turned ugly, my weight went up to a solid 14. Living with that man had driven out any joy I had once found in exercising out of me for good, it seemed then. But it had increased my love of chocolate. In addition, he emptied my bank account, he had managed to swindle me out of my ownership and $87,000.00 equity in our home, and got away with stealing more than $30,000.00 worth of my personal property, my antiques, and even my personal papers and journals, which he took just to be mean. In spite of it all, and my new size, all things considered, I looked pretty good.
It took years to settle everything. By the time it finally went to trial, my ex-husband had drained all the cash equity out of my home and sold it, feigning bankruptcy. Meanwhile, he had opened a new company in the same industry in his new girlfriend’s name, the one he dated while married to me, a three times divorced ex-daycare center worker now the president of an advertising agency-thanks to him.
It gave me great satisfaction to strut into court a tall, blonde, happy size 14 almost 16, with big boobs. My bra size had increased from a 36C to a 36D with my weight gain. I smiled to myself in court as I thought of his new girlfriend enjoying his “personal training”.
My lawyer was awe-struck when my ex husband was legally allowed to get away with taking my money. I have struggled with grief and acceptance of the loss for years, while still trying to create some kind of happy life with my son. I still have occasional nightmares about the ordeal. Comfort became a big issue for me during that time, so I purchased my first pair of Liz Claiborne size 16 jeans, big and loose, heaven to wear.
I have been experiencing a growing, peaceful kind of self-love and acceptance since reaching age 40, and I am grateful for it. I lose weight from activity, not from a self-forced deprivation based on what the media with its fashion models, television actresses, and movie stars send me the message I should be if I want to be “beautiful”. I feel sorry for anyone who thinks they must eat a little lettuce, boiled chicken, and no carbs for lunch to be acceptable to the world. I ride my bike with my son because we like to, not for a cardio benefit. I canoe on the lake with my sweetheart for fun and a little adventure, not for my upper arms. I walk with my little friend, our Maltese dog because it is enjoyable, especially for him.
The woman I am today can flip through a fashion magazine and rather than feel the urge to hire a personal trainer, feels pity for women who think they need to. No one person can ever attain the perfection presented in those magazines without becoming anorexic, overly exhausted, or just plain miserable. Regular folks don’t have cash for personal trainers, tons of plastic surgery, and daily facials and massages. I know I do my best to be my personal best, with the busy life I live. That's good enough for me. Gone forever is the unrealistic idea that my home, my man and my body should be as perfect as the ones in the media. Good riddance to that concept.
Today at 43 I am a happy size 16 and a DD cup, and I love my Buddha belly. I suds it up in the shower and lovingly moisturize it daily. I was lucky enough to meet and love a man with one of his own. I wouldn’t trade kissing his soft furry belly for all the treadmills in Bally’s. We have no desire to marry, and that works for us both. The dream of that perfect married life depicted in the magazines I built it on is over for me now, and I am at peace with the happiness I find in each day of my life, as it is, for real. He has never complained about my little Buddha belly, and neither of us is inclined to slow down our love for homemade brownies, marshmallow treats, and fat-free ice cream sandwiches. We both work hard, and enjoy our meals and downtime together. I am not gaining more weight, in fact when I get really busy my size 14 clothes fit again. Either way, I am feeling fine and looking good! My sweetheart collected a number of Buddha statues when he traveled to Thailand a few years ago. They are all over our house. I love having them around, because they are always smiling, like me, belly and all.
About the Author
Lisa Marie York is a single professional working mother residing the Orlando, Florida area. She currently completing her book, her true-life story which is under consideration by several Television and Motion Picture production companies. For more information about her upcoming book, please email firstname.lastname@example.org