For Every Woman Who Hates Her Stomach

There is only one rule to plus-size fashion: Show the good stuff, hide everything else. Play up the boobs, show off those lower legs, and for God's sake, put a tent over the rest of it. And, above all, hide that belly. Give us a big, round ass or maybe even thick thighs, but no one wants to see that.

I've been a good little big girl since Day One. I wore the tents and giant purses and stood behind friends in photographs. I bought billowy, hippie-chick blouses thinking, "stomach: solved!" — only to crumple in shame when someone offered me their seat on the subway. I've spent most of my 20s unintentionally rocking some sweet maternity style.

Then, one day I saw a phrase that changed everything: visible belly outline (or VBO). It was beneath a gorgeous full-body shot on Gabi Fresh's Instagram. Like many of you, I'm constantly inspired by Gabi's fearless style advances (she's the one who got me in a fatkini, and I've never looked back). But, it never once occurred to me that she — or any of us — might ever let the belly out of the bag.

That belly is the source of my greatest humiliation. It's the thing that jackass little boys poked at in elementary school. It's the one part of my body I cannot stand to have touched. I cannot stand to touch it. When I see it peeking out in the mirror, I hear my mother's voice telling me to suck it in.

So, when I heard about VBO, I knew I'd have to do it. There's one thing I've learned for certain in the last year: Show off what you're ashamed of. Tell the dirty secrets. Give those dark and scary corners some sunlight. It might not make the problems disappear, but I guarantee it will make them so much smaller. Most of the time, our demons are just jackass little boys, in the end.

I don't like my belly, but it's just not that big a deal. It doesn't define who I am. It's not so big and horrible that it cancels out the rest of me, body and soul. It's a part of me, and I like me. Even if I don't like that part, I've got to show it some more respect.

So, I put on some cute skirts and I took it for a walk. Here we go.

Photographed by Nicolas Bloise; Styled by Haley Loewenthal; Hair and Makeup by Andi Yancey.

The Anti-Diet Project runs on Mondays twice a month. You can also follow my journey on Twitter and Instagram at @mskelseymiller or #antidietproject. Hashtag your own Anti-Diet moments, too! If you're new to the column, you can check out all the entries here.

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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Baby's first pencil skirt!

Here I am, posing on the outside, squealing on the inside, because there is nothing more nerve-racking than standing on the sidewalk thinking everyone in New York City is staring at your gut. This is a good time to remember that most people in the world are not all that concerned with you, let alone what you wore to work that day.

But, I sure liked it.
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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Booyah. Belly. And, look at that — the world's still spinning.
3 of 7
Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
I'd be lying if I said this photo didn't scare me a little. As long as I'm showing off things I'm ashamed of, I might as well share that, too. Body positivity doesn't mean you walk around feeling like Beyoncé every day. I'm 70% sure that even Beyoncé doesn't feel like Beyoncé every day. But, I'd rather put up this slightly awkward, weird-face photo of myself than only show you my good side. That's what body positivity means to me. It's about not hiding. It's about actively looking at the scary photos until they're not so scary.
4 of 7
Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
Hey, conventional beauty standards: Can you see my middle finger? No? Maybe it's because you're distracted by how AWESOME I LOOK IN THIS OUTFIT.

(Body positivity also means looking at the awesome photos and loving every second of it.)
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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
At first, the level of V in this VBO made me want to throw a diva fit, lock myself in the bathroom, and not come out until the maniac who made me do this dumb-ass story came over and apologized.

Then, I remembered that I pitched this dumb-ass amazing story and high-fived myself for being totally grown-up and awesome.
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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
We might not be best friends, but by the end of the day, my belly and I had formed a relationship based on mutual respect and civility. We're like chill divorced parents who still spend holidays together.
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Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.
True, there's not much belly showing, but I had to share this badass shot, regardless. Sometimes you like the way you look and sometimes you don't. But, it's rare to get a photo where you look the way you feel.

And, right here, I'm feeling like a strong, victorious lady who hopes she doesn't fall down the stairs in these shoes.

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