This post isn’t really about naval fetishism, but it is the written, real time version of my realization that my relationship to my belly is far less ambivalent than I previously thought.
I don’t really have a thing with bellies…actually, that’s a lie. I didn’t think I had a thing for bellies until I wrote this post. Hands? Yes. Nape of the neck? Obviously. Collarbones and shoulder? Fizzy, little sigh.
But tummies are different. Unlike napes and collarbones, I don’t sexualize them…at least, not beyond the fact that they’re a lovely expanse of sexy, touchy potential. Round, flat, muscled, soft – if my partner has a tummy, I’m going to want to touch it because it’s part of that person’s body. Odds are that if I’m having sex with someone I want to touch their body, belly included.
My apparently long-standing but newly discovered thing with bellies has less to do with other people’s and more to do with my own. When I was young, I trained at the SF Ballet. Even as a little person, emphasis was placed on how fit and strong and flexible our bodies were, and I was taught that my stomach muscles had a great deal to do with that. When I was dancing, I developed an intuitive awareness of my core muscles and how they engaged. They were my tools and I took care of them. They made me feel strong and capable, but that had nothing to do with sex.
When I got older and more aware and, as a result, more consciously guarded, I became protective of my belly in a largely symbolic way. Traditionally speaking, it’s a vulnerable place and “showing your belly” has never come naturally to me (massive understatement). The fact that getting people to “show their bellies” was one of my ex’s favorite pastimes probably didn’t help. In fact, my hyperawareness of it as an emotionally vulnerable place (and the protectiveness that came with it) may be why I’ve never thought of my belly as an especially sexual part of my body until I actually sat down to think about it.
Much to my surprise, it is.
After years of habitual maintenance, my core muscles are literally and figuratively the center of my strength. I engage those muscles when I run, when I pick up my daughter, and oh, damn do I engage them during sex. A really good kiss is enough to make them tighten up for go-time. I bend and flex and stretch from my belly. I use it for leverage. I sit and stay grounded from there too. Without getting too sentimental or spiritual about it, my belly has become my seat of strength in both body and mind.
While I might be naturally attracted to certain body types, a person’s belly doesn’t register when you compare it to any number of other things, but my relationship to my own belly is surprisingly less generic. My belly is strong, and that makes me feel strong, and yeah, that actually is sexy.
Stretching out long, like a cat, in bed; curling up beneath someone, anchoring myself on top of them, bending this way and that. My belly lets me do all of those things. Even better, it helps me feel present with my partner when I do them. I had no conscious awareness of that before now. It’s kind of lovely that writing this helped me figure that out.
For more thoughts on bellies and naval fetishism, check out Kink of the Week or click the lips.