Friday, July 10, 2015

Please Stop Saying Belly

I hate the word belly.  I didn't used to hate the word; I liked it just as well as any other word.  But I hate it now because “belly” is always followed by the word “fat”.   Belly and fat used to be two separate things, and now they are one thing, and the word belly is the all worse for it.

In the past, belly was a perfectly pleasant word, and not at all overused.  It could refer to a ‘belly dancer’, which was a woman who had a great looking stomach and knew how to use it, or it might refer to a little toddler tummy that stuck out and made the child even more deliciously squeezable.  Belly dancers stomachs and baby’s stomachs are each beautiful and lovable in their own unique ways, and a tribute to the word belly.  Those were the good old days for the word belly.

(I know nothing about this book.  It was randomly selected for its title.)

But now, belly means fat.  Nobody goes to see “Magic Mike” and to see his sexy belly.  They go to see his sexy abs.  Or his six pack.  Or his torso. 

We’re a people obsessed with belly fat.  This is because we are a people possessed by belly fat.  We all have muffin tops or love handles, or other euphemistically named rolls of gross, squishy business around our middles. 

There is a TV commercial running now in my city which discourages the drinking of sugary drinks by showing ACTUAL belly fat as it looks on the inside.  Trust me, it’s even grosser than the outside kind.  It’s all yellow and glisteny and it wraps around your healthy pink organs and strangles them.  Soda, anyone?

Belly fat is referred to constantly on book covers and television shows, and in pop up ads (“Proven to Melt Belly Fat!”).  I'm pretty sure the word belly is unhappy about its imprisonment with fat.  It didn’t want to become some unattractive, down-market, organ-killing word.  It liked its old life, when it was used once in a while and meant a few different things. 

Now some magazines and other sources are trying to mix it up a little by referring to flat bellies.  I'm afraid it'just too late for that.  Flat belly just sounds to me like a fat belly that is oddly flat in front but just pooches out on the side and flaps around when you move.

Belly, I’m sorry.  I need to quit you, at least for now.  Perhaps one day we will all learn to eat right and exercise, and belly fat will be a thing of the past, like mutton chops.  I love the word chops, because I love many varieties of grilled meats, but I would not have loved the word chops back when it was constantly used to refer to some fellow's big hairy face.  So hang on, belly.  Your time may come again.  

In the meantime, I hope I have convinced you dear reader, to stop saying belly.  I think you'll find it improves your worldview.


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