Dearest Lower Belly, 

Hi. It's me—again. 

I realize that I think about you more often than I should. When I wake up and when I go to sleep, I think about how you'll react to all the things I eat. When I try on clothes and look in a mirror, I focus on you with an unrelenting stare. You remind me of many things for which I wish I didn't care.

You remind me of the Play-Doh I used when I was a kid. I pinch you and squish you, all the while marveling at how you are the way you are. I wonder why you don't mold to what I want you to look like no matter how hard I try. I consume all the right foods, I exercise multiple times a week, and yet you remain visible.

Brooke Daly

Lower Belly, you remind me of a spoiled brat. You ask me why you can't look like what that other bellies looks like. I tell you it's because each one is unique but you just cover up your ears and block out my voice of reason.

You are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One day you're flat, the next day you're bloated. One day I'm confident about you, the next day I wear the baggiest shirt I can find. It's a constant tug-of-war between acceptance and denial, and for some reason, the latter usually wins. I go back and forth between telling myself that looks don't matter and then, a second later, desperately asking my mom if the dress I'm wearing is unflattering. 

You are ubiquitous like a thorn in my side. Even now, at your smallest, you still cause me pain. I think about how you used to look and fear that you might look that same way in the future. The Freshman 15 is at the top of my list of fears, right next to bees and clowns.

Brooke Daly

And lastly, you remind me of oxygen—something that everyone needs to live. Without you, where would food digest? Where would children grow? I can't believe how much I take you for granted.

I'm determined to praise you for what you do instead of beating you up for how you look because with everything that goes on in my life, it's ridiculous to let you rule it.

So consider this a farewell, Lower Belly. Goodbye to second guessing my self-worth and beauty. Sayonara to fearing crop tops. And Adios to sucking in my stomach for every photo I take. 

Your new friend, 

Brooke