January 14, 2020
Many women have a “pooch”—not a dog, but a “muffin-top” stomach, caused by water retention, hormones, or a poor diet. Among them is Ashley Dorough of North Decatur, Georgia. The 35-year-old has seen her body change in shape and size over the years—however, despite the ups and downs, the mom of two isn’t being hard on herself. Instead, she’s celebrating her body by posting about those changes on Instagram, she told Health magazine recently.
On January 9, Dorough shared a photo of herself on Instagram, showing off the side of her stomach in a close-up shot. “This might make you uncomfortable to see, and if so… I want you to lean into that and think about why,” she wrote in her caption. “If I had six-pack abs would you also feel uncomfortable? This is an angle I’ve always avoided looking at in the mirror, even 100 pounds ago. But today I did it.”
“Thankfully a really busy career and a husband who NEVER commented on my body size kept me from going down an even more destructive road,” she wrote. “But today, when I finally looked … I was okay. And although it’s so incredibly different than what we’ve been taught is beautiful, I felt compassion and love for this skin and this belly and yes, even the overhang.”
She said that it’s important for her to see bigger bodies in the media, to help normalize body diversity among women. She added that body and fat acceptance helped her break her unhealthy pattern of disordered eating, and has made her want to feed herself in a way that feels healthy for her, specifically.
“So right now, I’ve had to hit pause from anything nutrition or exercise related,” she wrote. “Right now, I have to be okay with gaining a few pounds as I heal. I have to be okay with being a little weaker, because as much as I miss exercising… I know I’m not ready for it yet.”
Dorough’s message received a ton of love from her followers. Other women and mothers praised her post and shared their similar experiences.
“Ooooh yes this took me a long time to see when I first started deliberately making mirror attempts,” one person commented. “Getting past the uncomfortable part (which always lasts longer than we hoped for) is usually biggest part of our growth.”
“This makes me feel so many things, but uncomfortable isn’t one of them—I feel seen, I feel accepted, and I feel like I’m looking at a beautiful body. Thank you for all your transparency as you’re going on this journey. You’re changing hearts and minds,” another woman wrote.
It’s no secret that messages like Dorough’s not only create a positive environment on social media, but they’re also flipping the script on what it means to be beautiful. However, many dietitians and doctors might disagree. We welcome comments from our readers.
Research contact: @health_magazine