“Look at her belly,” hisses a girl to her friend, staring me up and down. They gawk, unable to process this. My voluptuous body, wrapped in this tight, gray, lacy, low-cut camisole, my protruding belly displayed under cotton that hugs every curve.
My face reddens, and I quickly walk away as if I haven’t heard. As if I don’t care. I say nothing. I should be saying, should be shouting, “Yes, look! Look at my belly! It’s there! It exists! It is round and fat and protruding, honestly and gloriously and proudly, under this tight tank top.
“Look at my belly! I’m not thin. I don’t look like a movie star, like a perfect little waif, flat as a board. Do you think I should change clothes? That I look like a fat slut? I don’t care. I’m amused that you think you are so important that everyone should conform to your arbitrary standards of beauty. You know what? I AM BEAUTIFUL!
“Look at my belly! Look at its roundness, its fatness.
“Look at my belly! And while you look, know that all bodies are beautiful. Know that I am secure in my body. I am beautiful because I think I’m beautiful. Know that my worth cannot be contained in this belly.
“I pity you, whispering girl. You are so insecure about yourself and your own body that you feel the need to judge and ridicule what I choose to do with mine. I pity you, whispering girl, because even as you gape at me in scorn, you are envious. You know that I feel beautiful regardless of what I look like or which clothes I wear. You are envious, because even though all bodies are beautiful, even though all people are beautiful, you don’t feel that way.
“Look at my belly! Belly! Belly! As you are too insecure to say the word to my face, I scream it out loud. Belly!
“Look at my belly, whispering girl, gawking girl. Look at my belly, at my body, at me. Look at my belly, because there is more than one way to be beautiful.”