I have always hated my belly. It is the one part of my body that I would change if I had one wish. However, I love being pregnant. It is a time when I celebrate this part of my body and show it off instead of hiding it. I feel that it is the only time of my life that I can wear whatever I want and not worry about the fabric clinging to my stomach.
The women in my family have all been endowed with apple shaped bellies. I never thought that I would ever show off my midriff in public but on a hot Sunday in July I decided to don a cropped top and have my pregnant belly painted.
Because it pushed me out of my comfort zone.
Divya, a Tokyo-based artist and body painter, asked me what I would like to have painted on my tummy. I knew instantly that I wanted a lotus. It is the logo that I use for my fledging online work and a potent symbol of the beauty that emerges from muddy waters.
By happy coincidence Divya also feels connected to the power of the lotus having been raised by Indian parents who always told her “the thicker the mud, the more beautiful the lotus.”
I wanted to include an ‘om’ symbol in the design to represent the sound of the universal consciousness, my love for yoga and my own connection to India. An om combined with a lotus felt like the perfect combination for my baby. When Divya showed me her draft design, I had tears in my eyes!
After years of feeling ashamed about my belly, it felt good to adorn it in this way. It was like an apology for all the bad things I have said about it over the years. Being a pregnant British woman in Japan, I have been subjected to constant comments from strangers about how big my baby bump is. Most of the time I shrug it off but, of course, there are days when it upsets me. That Sunday, however, I got to walk around town feeling proud of my colourful lotus belly. It was both a relaxing and a healing experience.
Once the baby is born I will no doubt return to hiding my belly again because old habits die hard! I am, however, trying to be more positive about the language I use to describe it. After all, it is the giver of life and my place of creation. Energetically it is where all the energy channels of my body merge and become one.
It is where the lotus blooms.
Why not celebrate it?