About

We are two friends who find ourselves chatting about sex, babies, pregnancy, bodies, and women alot.  Like really a lot.  Freakishly often, really.  Our names are Christy Tashjian and Karen Rayne.  Christy is a midwife and Karen is a Sex Educator.  You can find our professional blogs over there on the side bar.

Here is how the Belly Project came to be: one day we were walking home from taking our daughters to school and found ourselves talking about body image.  Christy told Karen about a poster she had seen many years before with black and white pictures of several women’s bellies. Christy did not remember the name of the poster, just that it left a powerful impression with her.  Karen suggested they create a blog with similar pictures and that they name it The Belly Project (as a body image geeky reference to the landmark book The Body Project).  It turns out the poster had the same name: The Belly Project.   We would like to acknowledge and thank the creators of the Belly Project poster, Lisa Kushner and Peggy McKenna, for inspiring this blog some 13 years later.

We realize that bellies are a sensitive subject, but they’re important!  They’re a major part of our bodies!  In fact, many of our friends were horrified when we asked to take pictures of their bellies.  Even after being assured that the pictures were anonymous, it took considerable powers of persuasion on our parts to part pictures of our friends’ bellies from them to put up on this blog.

We are hoping to collect a large number of pictures to show the many varieties of shapes and sizes and color of the middle parts of women’s bodies.  SO send us your pictures! Include your age and reproductive history, and we’ll get your picture up ASAP.

38 responses to “About

  1. I found you through the “Well Mom” website by Heather Cabot. Thank you SO much for the heartwarming and encouraging project.
    I AM NORMAL!!! Yay!!!!

    Carrie Robertson
    Founder, Mommy Adventure Club, Los Angeles
    two pregnancies, two babies

  2. I am 23 with 0 pregnancies and 0 babies, but I think this is a fascinating website about bodies and identity, raises some interesting (and important) questions about image. Well done.

  3. Thanks, Anastasia, I’m glad you like our project, and I hope you’ll submit your belly picture! We do have a few non-mother pictures up here. Really, the reason we’re so over-loaded with mothers who are in their reproductive years is because that’s who Christy and I are, and so that’s mostly who we’re friends with and have access to their bellies. So pass the word around among your friends – non-mothers are encouraged to participate too!

  4. Marie

    Wow! As an LLL Leader, LC and doula, I had heard about this project a long time ago. This is so helpful and healing to those of us who think we (or at least parts of us) are “not good enough”. As soon as I can, my belly (5 pregnancies, 4 babies/1 miscarriage, 51 years old) will join you soon.

    Namaste’,
    Marie

  5. We have seen The Shape of a Mother site, shortly after we started this site, thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention, Audra!

  6. No sweat! I stress out over online duplication because I am a weirdo. I’m always like “JOIN FORCES! JOIN FORCES!”

  7. My favourites are the tummies of ladies in their 50′s. Without sounding trite, there’s something almost regal about them. They have a past and a story. They have character. They’ve earned those tummies with a long lifetime. Surprisingly moving for me.

  8. jj

    I am glad that sites like this are getting out there and that women can share what ‘motherhood’ looks like…at least for some. I know that my belly can do extraordinary things (like growing a baby and being a soft place for my babies to rest) but it sure doesn’t look like the mommy bellies on this site. I would love to have any of the bellies on this site! I think most of these mom’s look like supermodels. I sure hope they are posting the pics to show off how good they look rather than posting them to show how ravaged they are by childbearing.

  9. JJ, Thanks for coming and visiting The Belly Project! The shapes and sizes and colors and kinds of bellies we have change often. If you’re not seeing something like your belly, submit a picture! In general, we’re not here to talk about looking good or ravaged, but rather to accept and acknowledge the range of female bellies that exist around us – both our own belly and everyone else’s. You can read a lot more on my perspective of bellies and “normal” and how The Belly Project works into all of this here: https://thebellyproject.wordpress.com/2009/01/15/on-the-normality-of-bellies-from-karen/

  10. Nina

    This site is great! Thanks for sharing. :) N.

  11. thirdgradeaunt

    This is a great concept. Everyone loves belly pictures. I might have to get my sister to send you one of hers before she pops :)

  12. steph

    “Our bellies are intimately related our sexuality and to our reproductive lives.” As a lesbian who has never been pregnant (and doesn’t have plans to become pregnant), I’m an outlier — I immediately can imagine that the statement must be relevant to most women. But I wonder about others who wouldn’t find this fitting: non-Americans? non-Westerners? trans/cis-gender women?

  13. steph

    I should add that I do think the project is great, though — a very cool idea for lots of reasons :)

  14. Hi Steph,

    While you might never get pregnant, most women have reproductive organs hanging out in their mid-section or have had them there in the past. They’re there, and regardless of their sexual orientation or parenting plans, it is through this section of our bodies that we feel the courses of reproduction flow.

    As to the relationship to our sexuality, the sexual appeal of the belly is of course a cultural concept in regards to how it’s treated in the public sphere. But even without these cultural overtones, because the belly is just above the genitalia, it is necessarily related to our sexuality – just as our hips and thighs are related to our sexuality. Regardless of whether we ignore our belly or include it in our understanding of ourselves as sexual beings, it resides in the mid-part of our body, not too far above our lovely vulvas.

    All that aside, though, I would never presume to say what someone’s belly means specifically to him or her – regardless of gender.

    I am glad you like the project! It’s been great fun for me and Christy.

  15. I found this site through Yahoo Shine and I think it’s wonderful! I’m 23 years old with 0 pregnancies so far but I find it very interesting to learn what other women have gone through. Reproductive issues (cancer/tumors/cysts) are common in my family so my baby producing future is very unclear. Seeing all of these women who have dealt with every single situation is comforting, knowing they made it through the tough times. Whether it’s due to miscarriage or abortion, many of these women (more than I would have thought) have had to deal with the emotional consequences of the loss of a child. Every body has a story to tell and it’s great that there’s a site that helps to share those stories sans any harsh judgment.

  16. This is a really good wedsit glad somthing like this existe and it makes me feel normal.

  17. Pingback: So many wonderful bellies! « The Belly Project

  18. Great site, but I wish

    … there were more bellies of color here. I’d submit a belly of color, but I don’t have one myself … maybe you should do a little more outreach online and solicit?

  19. Nikki

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been so self-conscious about my belly for years now, and after my son was born still, I felt broken. Viewing these photos and seeing how many women have bellies like mine, and have gone through similar experiences, is EXTREMELY healing. As soon as I get the gumption up (and the camera!) to take a photo of my 37 year old, 4 pregnancies (2 abortions, 1 stillbirth, 1 miscarriage) belly, I will!

  20. I’m so very glad, Nikki! I look forward to seeing your beautiful belly when you’re ready.

  21. Pink Sugar

    Hi! I’d like to send in a picture of my belly. I’m curious, what do the tags “warrior” and “crone” mean? I think I got the crone one figured out, but I wanted to be sure.

  22. Teri Inscoe

    We had to do a Belly Project in a class I am taking. It turned into a very emotional and cathartic experience for me and wanted to share it with the The Belly Project. You may publish it if you find it appropriate. Please let me know by email if you do. Thanks
    My Belly
    My belly is the core of my being, for within this most sacred personal place, this cherished place that is at once flawed and perfect as I am, I behold:
    the flower of my life force
    the cradle of my womb
    the root my intuition
    the origin of my creativity
    the source of my passion
    the sanctuary of my vulnerability
    the depth of my sensuality
    the conduit of my nourishment
    the reflection of my appetites and emotions
    the refuge of my sins and sacrifices
    the bounty of my vitality
    the strength of my integrity
    the acceptance of my authenticity
    the fire of my energy
    the heart of my soul
    the truth of my beauty
    the well-spring of my spirituality
    the eternal reservoir of my goddess-self.

    Teri Inscoe 2009

  23. Aoife O'Brien

    Hello!
    I just stumbled upon your website while in search of that wonderful poster you described. Do you know if there is anyway to get my hands on a copy of it?
    This website is great, I’m going to share it with all my girls as soon as I’m done writing to you.
    Cheers!
    ~Aoife

  24. I love this project. Wonderful!! I may send one day…

  25. This is an amazing and inspiring project! Thank you for the great outlet, and for providing a space where we can show off our real bellies, proudly.

  26. Rikki King

    So beautiful. makes me feel so much better for standing in front of the mirror wondering if my belly is “OK”

  27. Tabitha

    I think this is a really great website. It really does help people realise that it’s normal to look the way you do, that it’s not that you’re doing anything wrong with your eating habits or anything. I was wondering, are pictures from teenagers accepted? Because I would love to post my picture to help reach younger women as well.

  28. Thanks for the great question, Tabitha! We would be delighted to have pictures from any girl or woman of any age!

  29. I stumbled on this blog accidentally and I’m so glad I did. Only minutes after I read some of the posts I felt… so many things! I’ve always accepted and loved myself and my body but have rarely been able to look at myself naked in the mirror. I’ve gotten very good at undressing in the bathroom while averting my eyes away from anything reflective. :) However, only days after visiting this blog I found myself looking in the mirror before getting in the shower. (granted, it was a bathroom I wasn’t used to and one where two of the walls were covered in mirrors but still, give me some credit!) I didn’t look away right away and there may have even been a smile and, (dare I say?) a twirl!

    I plan on sending in my own belly picture very soon and am working on getting my five older sisters, and a couple of nieces, to join me in this wonderful adventure. I have never been so excited about getting my picture taken, let alone exposing my (beautiful) belly!

  30. Phoebeee

    i also stumbled across this blog; i think this is a seriously good idea my belly is probably my biggest insecurity and i think this is a really positive website for young teenagers ( like myself) to see what is in fact normal- because we simply don’t know anymore! My body image caused me to suffer from anorexia and bulimia and i think this is such a positive thing- well done :)

  31. Carlene

    I just saw a short film by Cambridge Documentary Films called Birthmarkings (http://www.cambridgedocumentaryfilms.org/birthmarkings.htm) that is EXACTLY what the Belly Project is talking about: our feelings about our bellies; in this case, post-birth bellies. Women talk with ambivalence, humor and love about the scars, marks and stretched skin that brands them as mothers. I got to you all at the Belly Project from a poster of the same name that I saw in someone’s office the other day…the synchronicity is amazing. Please check this film out!
    (I previously posted this in the wrong place (I’m new at this!), so I am reposting here.)

  32. That was an excellently written essay, thank you so much.

  33. Bethany

    Is this still active?

  34. Fernanda Lobato

    Hey! I was really excited about sending pictures of mine, but unfortunately I don´t have an outlook account, could i send it in a different way? thank you anyway x :)

  35. Suz

    I’d like to send in my picture

  36. Marian Struin

    this is such a great project!!! i have had a single birth a son that weighed over 9 pounds. then i had twins a son and daughter. from that birth my son weighed 8 lbs and 2 oz and my daughter weighed 6 obs and 13 oz. I thought I was the only one who looked this way. I have had such a hard time with it! it is so nice to know i am not the only one. it has made a huge difference! thank you so much!!!

  37. S.E.A.

    Will you be adding new belly photos soon? I emailed mine..but I see it’s been awhile since you’ve dded new photos. Thank you!

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