Go to a newsstand.
Look at all the magazines. Read the cover lines.
Odds are, 8 out of 10 of them are screaming versions of the same things:
LOSE BELLY FAT FAST! GET SIX-PACK ABS IN JUST 5 WEEKS! 6 EASY WAYS TO GET A FLAT STOMACH!
For the longest time, I picked up these types of magazines specifically for those advertised articles. I thought maybe the right article, the right exercise would magically transform the little belly I'd had ever since I was born into a perfectly flat, smooth stomach.
I told myself if I would just stop eating candy, throw pasta out the door and do 1,000 crunches a day, I'd be happy! My pants size would drop right along with the little tummy, and I could actually wear a crop top without worrying about looking like I was busting out of the shirt.
Yet no matter how many spin classes I took or how few calories I consumed, my pudge refused to budge. It's more stubborn than my older sister in a fight over who gets control of the remote when we're both home for Christmas.
But one day, and I never thought I'd ever say this, I grew to love my belly. Well, "love" might be an overstatement, but the relationship I now have with it isn't full of hate or disgust. There is acceptance, and there is a bit of appreciation.
I am 23 years old. I am healthy. And I can be thankful for the belly I have, have always had and will (probably) have until the day I die.
1. It holds up your laptop while you binge-watch "Gossip Girl."
One hand is hitting the "next episode" button and the other is reaching in the Cheetos bag.
2. It proves you have enough to eat.
If you aren't going to bed hungry, you're already luckier than a lot of people in this word.
3. And it lets you know when you're hungry.
A distinct rumble sound will wake you from even the deepest sleep and push you toward the refrigerator.
4. If you don't have a butt, you need something to keep those high-waisted jeans from falling down.
Showing your crack is a lot worse than having a FUPA.
5. You'll have room to carry a baby one day (a day very, very, very far away).
A baby might seem like a horrible choice now, but eventually, you might just be grateful to carry a little human in that belly of yours.
6. It helps support the laundry basket you have to haul up three flights of stairs...
Hey, you have to use what you got.
7. ...and that massive bag from Trader Joe's that had the handles break after just two blocks.
Your arms can't carry milk, oranges, frozen vegetables and two boxes of cookies by themselves!
8. You're a woman and it gives you curves.
Curves are good. It doesn't matter if they're on your chest, hips or stomach.
9. It's an incentive to work out.
Because sometimes waking up at 6 am to go for a run isn't the easiest thing in the world.
10. It keeps you grounded.
Your body isn't perfect, your friend's body isn't perfect and that celebrity on the cover of that magazine had her stretchmarks Photoshopped.
11. You'll rarely, if ever, have the "this is too loose around the waist" problem.
Consider yourself a fortunate woman.
12. You're a little bit softer and therefore, you're a better snuggler.
Aside from being told you're really smart, funny or talented, that's the best compliment anyone could receive.
13. You have a go-to answer whenever Regina George, Gretchen Wieners and Karen Smith expect you to say something negative about your body.
"I have really bad breath in the morning" is already taken.
14. But most importantly, it's a part of you.
You have to love yourself.