The first time something negative seeped into my head about my stomach, I was 14. I had just performed a show and was wearing a shirt that showed a little bit of my belly. After walking off stage, a loved one pointed to my stomach and said “you better watch that.” I remember from that moment on being very self conscious about my stomach, always wanting to cover it. Still to this day, my stomach is a place of insecurity. I’ve struggled with major stomach and digestion issues my whole life, leaving me seriously bloated at the end of most days. For some reason my stomach has been a struggle for me. Honestly, my insecurity around it is something I’m digging deeper into and working on healing, so when I happened to stumble upon the “Love Your Belly Movement” on Instagram, I felt a little less alone and empowered by real women rocking their bodies. Our stomach is such a place of power and creation, the “core” of who we are. It’s time we embrace that power and stop allowing society to shame us for anything other than the flat tummy we’re continually sold. It’s time we lift each other up as women and empower one another to rock our own original beauty. Thanks to women like Gina-Marie and Hailley who founded “Love Your Belly Movement,” our bellies are being celebrated and a new light shown on our bodies.
Meet Gina-Marie and Hailley ~ Creators of “Love Your Belly Movement”
We are yoga teachers at BIG Power Yoga in Houston, TX. We met during our 200 Hour Teacher Training Program at BIG and we instantly became friends. Hailley likes to call us soul sisters. We knew we had a special bond from the very beginning and we have loved growing together on and off the mat; and now in our journey with the Love Your Belly Movement.
We started the Love Your Belly Movement a couple of weeks ago after witnessing the body shame that Lady Gaga received after her Super Bowl halftime show performance. The movement began with a single photo on Instagram that Hailley posted of her bare belly – this post inspired Gina-Marie to do the same. Many other women in our community soon joined us and only a couple of weeks later we had over 100 women who had posted their belly on Instagram. It was clear, a movement was born. We call it the #loveyourbellymovement.
When was the first and last time you remember being body shamed?
Hailley: The first times I remember experiencing body shame was early high school after I had gained weight. I remember my Grandpa telling me I had “thick thighs” and that they weren’t like my Mother’s. I can also remember my Mom and I having a conversation and her saying that, “I carried my weight on my stomach”. Neither my Mom nor my Grandpa meant to bring any harm to me, I know they both love me VERY much. Yet, it was in these moments that I immediately went into comparison and shame. It was then that I decided that I looked different, bigger and “thicker” than other girls my age and I carried that with me for many years. The most recent time I remember was just this week, Gina-Marie and I took some photos for our podcast, SHE.inspires and I looked at one of the photos for a split second and decided that I looked “too big” in that picture compared to her.
Gina-Marie: I have to admit that most of my body shame comes from me. The first time was probably when I was in 5th grade. I hit puberty before all the other girls and I vividly remember thinking I look different. This is bad. The last time, if I’m completely honest, was probably yesterday. I felt a little fuller in my jeans. I remember thinking I shouldn’t have eaten as much as I did the night before.
How do you not absorb it and not let it affect you?
Hailley: We believe it is a daily practice and we are always practicing love and compassion for ourselves and our bodies.
Gina-Marie: I’m teaching myself to embrace my body. I’m learning how to become more aware of how I talk to myself. If I notice myself saying something bad about my body, I immediately find something to celebrate. Yoga has taught me that. It has allowed me to see myself through completely different eyes. I also surround myself with people who respect their bodies.
Hailley: Some days I am good about being kind to myself and I can let a negative thought go in seconds, other days a negative thought will stay with me longer. I believe what has supported me the most is realizing that the negative thoughts I have, aren’t actually me. I practice noticing those thoughts, letting them go and then re-directing my attention to something positive. I’m working on transferring my attention off of the negative and onto something in my life that I want to celebrate – like music, yoga, coffee, family and friends!
What is in your toolbox of tricks to lift your confidence when you can’t seem to find it?
Gina-Marie: We LOVE this question. It is, smiling at myself in the mirror, listening to FUN music, kissing my husband, eating with my friends, laughing with my family, dancing, singing, going on walks, practicing yoga, and speaking 5 things I love about myself.
Hailley: It’s getting out of my own way! If I am feeling down, I get up and get moving! When I feel my lowest, I am usually at home alone consumed by thoughts or emotions. If I notice this happening, I will get up and get outside, clean my apartment, do laundry, write in my journal, dance to music, literally “phone a friend” or go to yoga. Getting out of my aloneness and out with people supports me in re-connecting to my best, most confident, self.
What is your hope for the future of women and how we see and treat our bodies?
Hailley: Our hope for the future of women is reflective of the Love Your Belly Movement mission: A movement designed to encourage women to stand tall, live bravely, dream BIG, and celebrate their perfect bodies exactly as they are! Our hope is that we can begin to create a world where women are not stopped, halted or even hesitate going after their wildest dreams due to a negative thought or negative image of their body. We know that women are absolutely phenomenal and we support a future where women are able to SHINE at any age, any weight and any stage of their lives because they accept, love and celebrate themselves exactly as they are.
Who is your health and wellness inspiration?
We both truly support and inspire each other. Gina-Marie says, “My health and wellness inspiration is my best friend and Love Your Belly Movement partner, Hailley. She treats her body with so much love and respect!” Hailley is also constantly inspired by the work, growth, love and kindness that Gina-Marie has shown and given to her body. Hailley says, “Gina-Marie is truly an inspiration and a living example of doing the type of work that supports body, mind and soul.” The health and wellness inspiration for the Love Your Belly Movement was Lady Gaga. It was how Lady Gaga responded to the body shaming after the Super Bowl that inspired Hailley and Gina-Marie to take action. It was the message that Lady Gaga put out into the world that lit a fire inside Gina-Marie and Hailley. Lady Gaga said, “Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions.”
Soul of Everle “5”
#1: What are you fully DEVOTED to?
Gina-Marie: I’m fully DEVOTED to my husband, my friends, my family, my faith, the arts, teaching, yoga and the Love Your Belly Movement mission!
Hailley: I am fully DEVOTED to living and celebrating life. Honestly, the older I get (I’m turning 30 this year!) the more I understand how precious life is. I’m less and less interested in wasting precious moments of my life worrying about if I gained a few pounds or how I look in my jeans. I’m more and more interested in savoring every moment, every connection and every ounce of life that I’m given. I’m devoted to creating, loving, laughing, connecting and living boldly in every moment of my life.
#2 What brings you ultimate JOY?
Gina-Marie and Hailley fully agree on this together : “We feel ultimate JOY when We are 100% ourselves.” No hiding, no comparing, no trying to be something else or someone else. Simply allowing myself to be ME. That is what brings us the most authentic and REAL joy.
#3 If you could shine a SPOTLIGHT on someone who has either inspired you, helped you heal or that you admire, who would that be?
Gina-Marie: My husband. The way he loves me, allows me to love me more. He makes me feel smart, funny, beautiful, sexy, kind, and powerful!
Hailley : I would love to shine the spotlight on the Love Your Belly Movement Community. These women are courageous, BOLD, powerful, vulnerable and simply amazing. I have been AMAZED at their vulnerability and strength to share, connect and LOVE. It is these women that I admire and it is these women that inspire me to keep moving forward in my own journey of self love.
#4 What do you love most about your SOUL CASE?
Gina-Marie: The thing I love most about myself is my loyalty. I love the kind of friend I am. I love that I invest fully in my loved ones.
Hailley: I love that my soul has the ability to light up another. I believe I was given a gift to be able to bring light, laughter and love to the world. I am so grateful that my soul has the ability to light up and brighten the soul of another. I love that I get to do that. I love that about myself.
#5 When you come down with a case of WANDERLUST, where do you love to travel and explore?
Both: We LOVE this question. We always have a case of WANDERLUST. We’re both actually traveling to Europe this summer! Gina-Marie will be headed to Rome, Venice, and Portofino; while Hailley will be travelling to Paris, Lisbon, Seville and Florence. We also have WANDERLUST plans for Love Your Belly Movement. Our vision is to create yoga classes, workshops, and retreats all around the world!
Do you have insecurities surrounding your belly? If so, how do you work through them? Do Share! Sound off below…