Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 26 November 2016

Gemma Styles: Should We Be Worrying About Our Belly Jelly?

Gemma Styles: Should We Be Worrying About Our Belly Jelly?

The Debrief: A US body positivity campaign has released a video encouraging us to love our bellies. But is it just another way for us to compare body parts?

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

These days it seems like we're pretty much skipping around from one body trend to the next. A constant anticipation; will the next one make us feel horrible about our elbows or wonderful about our eyebrows? Are we the size of a piece of paper or able to function as our own clavicular piggy banks? Probably not. Sigh. It's not all bad though, because at least the latest trend on the block is designed to normalise, well... normal bodies. 

Body positivity organisation Movemeant Foundation is honing in on one area of the body they think we all share - the 'belly jelly'. In its new video campaign, we see strong, confident women all bouncing around doing various kick-ass sporting activities, and letting their jelly wobble free. The aim of the campaign is to get women feeling more confident in the gym or while playing sports, not worrying about covering up. Even if you're in great shape, us women do typically carry a higher body fat percentage than our male counterparts, so the majority of us will certainly have at least a bit of movement around the tum - this video is here to say... so what?

FYI, the most basic, gendered reason that women tend to carry more fat is because our bodies are designed to, at some point, grow a tiny human inside us. These little blobs need nourishment from our own stores, therefore we've got to stock the pantry up for them - there's no last minute dash to Sainsbury's when it comes to procreation. Anyway, setting aside the scientific reasons for us to feel better about our jiggles, the campaign to 'Own Your Belly Jelly' is seeking to reassure women of their normalcy. We're constantly bombarded with images of models who seem to be made of a very lifelike, but rigid, high-tech plastic substance...? I joke, of course, but this is just another way to call attention to the unrealistic standards presented to us in the media.

This stomach-specific vid reminds me, in a more pointed way, of the This Girl Can adverts. I loved those, and to be honest I think I prefer them because they were more about what women could do rather than how they looked while they were doing it. Even though the focus on one body part is intended as a positive look at shrugging off our worries, it's still zoning in on one part and giving us something else to examine and compare. 

I'd like to think optimistically about it, therefore hope that the project will have the desired effect and give women more confidence. It's a good message - even if you're not rock solid from head to toe, it doesn't mean you're not fit or healthy and it doesn't mean you're excluded from being 'sporty'. But I can't help but feel that it's just another thing to worry about... when watching the video, as well as thinking 'wow, all these women are so much fitter than me' I was also pondering how jiggly my own stomach would look doing the same activities. I expect very, and that's okay, but I'd like to be thinking more about the activities themselves than how I'd look doing them. The battle continues.

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