This month, Men's Health advises what to say to a naked woman:
"[The] belly was by far the touchiest subject for women. If there's any sign of the dreaded 'chub,' ignore it. If it's flat . . . 'Lay your head against it and tell me it's your favorite place in the world' (Carrie, 25). 'Wow, those core workouts have really paid off!' (Dawn, 25)".
Dear Men's Health,
My husband subscribes to your magazine, and this month's issue has been hanging around the bathroom for the past few days. I read the article "What to Say to a Naked Woman," and I'm troubled. I thought you should know.
I think it's funny that you refer to the belly as the "touchiest subject," and then advise men against . . . touching.
Bear with me as I parse your advice: Only a flat belly should be complimented. A chubby belly is a source of shame, so it should be ignored. Ignoring part of a woman's body ensures that she won't feel uncomfortable about it. A flat belly deserves loving remarks like "It's my favorite place in the world"; a chubby belly is no one's favorite place.
I can't speak for all women (obviously). I'm self-conscious about my belly. If a man were to ignore it, I would assume that he was turned off by it. This would serve to further separate me from my body [sad trombone].
If a man were to touch my belly, kiss it, love it, tell me it's his favorite nestling spot, I would be more inclined to remember that it's a part of me. And because it's a part of me, it isn't good or bad. It just is. And that, that's acceptance.
I have chub, Men's Health. I like it because it's me. I don't like it because it makes me heavier than my body wants to be. I'm conflicted, Men's Health, and you're not helping.
photo by Lisa Berry
I have chub. And I'd prefer that no one dread it -- not my husband, not others, and especially not me.